So let me explain how this will work. I press play on an album and there is no: pausing, rewinding or fast-forwarding throughout any song. Every track get's my gut reaction from start to finish.
The first album in our series belongs to J.K. The Reaper. With five outstanding mixtapes under his belt and two years of preparation and uneding work, J.K. The Reaper's long awaited debut album, Digital Tears, has finally been released.
As a long-time member of Denzel Curry affiliated collective, C9, and founding member of the FANG Life crew, J.K. has always been unaplogetically himself with little regard to people fucking with him. As long as he was able to express himself clearly, J.K. was on the mic. The sense of mortal melancholy and absolute devotion to his brand alone reflects unquestionably in the cover art for his latest project. The subtle color palette and overall disinterested expression on his face evokes a feeling of a man at peace with drowning in his own quiet insanity.
Now let's dive into this twelve track project and see if J.K. plans to go out with a whimper or a bang!
J.K. immediately carries the ocean theme from his cover into the production of the opening tracks as he speaks slowly in with that gravely voice to start off the project. Digitization, glitch effects. I love this beat! His unique melody pulls you deeper into the crashing production.
"Stuck in this virtual world/ I've been here all along" J.K. croons as he introduces you to this realm he's been trapped in.
And just like that it's over as quick as it started. Interesting opener.
Purple & Pink
Classic J.K. synths float in open space.
That voice though! The Reaper is menacing yet vulnerable on this track. His punctuating delivery is perfectly carried by the beat, while never getting lost. An onslaught like a horde of slowly moving zombies, it puts you on edge and keeps you completely focused while inching you along at a snail's pace.
"I pray to God you never love me again."
Oh the beat stopped. J.K. is talking about the first girl to break his heart, ooh shit his homie just came in. HAHAHA, telling him to quit being a pussy and to go out and get some.
Let's hit this party J.K.
More digital themes to the beat. Almost like classic Nintendo sounds. Interesting from producer Brenden Powers. Oh shit okay, he started with the sleepy singing of his, but then just jumped into the deep end of the pool. Not quite break-neck speed, but enough to keep your head bumping non-stop.
"North-side kid from the bottom of the map," let them know where you from J.K. I can't get over how well the gravel in his voice is put on display by these spacey computerized beats. Excellent production.
Beat cuts out at 3:11. An argument, gunfire. Sounds like the party Jabbie headed too wasn't much fun after all.
The first single off the tape is accompanied by a video by director David Wept that premiered on the FANG LIFE Youtube channel (+FNGLIFE).
The heavenly stabs build up to Jabbie's voice breaking out over a more minimalist beat than the earlier tracks. This flow is crazy, very true to his unique stylings.
Making me all nostalgic of those days when we would all get drunk and high in the neighborhood parking lot, because we had nowhere better to be.
Here's the speed! "Parking lot pimping" woooooh J.K. is taking no names, just lives. The bridge is too infectious, catch me saying "Started" over and over until my last days.
Another beat cut and more talking from Jabbie. God damn he's too funny. A whole little skit about erectile dysfunction and I don't know who this other voice is, but take Dr. Reaper's prescription of one Colt 45 and get back out there my man.
Drunk / Drowning
Really embracing his melodic side with the hooks on this project. Very basic, yet resonating production allows Jabbie to take full control of this song. Breakout that flow J.K. oh, it came for a second but it's gone again.
A break in the song, letting the production breathe. Not the greatest production I've heard from Nick Leon or Brenden Powers, yet still captivating so that should tell you something about the skill these two possess.
OKAY! LET'S SCREAM OUR FRUSTRATION ABOUT LOVE INTO THE NIGHT. Back to the melodies. And waves crashing as the beat switches. Oh wow. Very vulnerable Jabbie. Tell me who hurt you J.K.
"I've been trying forever/ Trying to keep it together/ But no matter what the ocean dissolves my efforts" I really, really like this line. Favorite of the tape so far.
My Only Friend
Alright, here we are at the halfway point. Plodding bass stabs to open the beat.
"Is it this cocaine talking again/ Is it my acid trip talking again/ Is it the alcohol talking again/ Is it these drugs that will be my only friend" I'll be your friend J.K.
Exploding onto this production. "Jabbie don't walk, I flew" And damn is he soaring across this track. Favorite to this point. I cannot stress enough how much I love his delivery over these perfectly tailored beats. I'm really feeling the way his shorter tracks feel like a wave, they slam into you with shear force only to disappear as soon as they came. Leaving us alone with a Jabbie bitter with love as he expresses his feelings toward a woman in his past.
Apparently we're about to get disrespectful... I can't wait.
A much softer intro than anything before it. Jabbie slams into place, there's that damn near perfected delivery "Or when I'm swimming in your estrogen/ Them other women on some extra shit/ I didn't know you were the exorcist" talk your shit J.K.
The harmonies behind his vocals are really pulling at me like this beat suddenly needs a hug. "I really thought you loved me/ And I really thought I loved you too," We've all been there man.
Damn, I can just feel this beat holding me at night. Really dig the production, good looks to Nick Leon and Telescope Thieves.
A perfect break-up song. I see this being a hit come February.
Dead 2 Me ft. Twelve'len
The only feature on the whole album. Anyone familiar with J.K. The Reaper's music should recognize Twelve'len from tracks like Promnite's "Gunsmoke" or Twelve'len's "Heaven Is Only A Planet Away." His unique "rock and soul" style of singing is one of the most unique within the Denzel Curry led ULT crew. Let's see what he brings on this track.
OOH that beat burst forth, love the rolling quality it has. J.K. stretching his vocal range once again, getting a bit more into a higher pitched area, but not quite there completely. Twelve'len providing the adlibs, keep the vibe going and I'll be crying by the end, watch me.
Okay some heavily edited vocals taking the stage in this bridge. And Twelve'len has arrived in force, perfectly blending his fiery rap flows from his damn near heartwrenching vocal expressions when he sings.
"I wanna tell you about everything/ Now that I'm dripping gold/ Your mask was transparent/ Your mask was see through/ I wanna tell you that your dead to me" Twelve'len lays it all out as the song comes to a close.
Another, skit is coming in. I love these Colt 45 advertisements, I wonder if a 40 would really cure erectile dysfunction... that's an untapped market. This redneck voice is killing me... holy shit that's his sister. Colt 45 really not responsible for any sister fucking, let it be known.
These synths are too smooth. Oh shit, here comes some of that Ronny J production. And J.K. is just sliding all over this beat. I'm definitely getting a different feeling from the second half of this album. "One of the craziest n****s I've ever met was white/ Now that's ironic/ The lines between me and you/ Are only symbolic" Talk to me J.K.
All of his songs are exceptional but this is definitely one of his most lyrically potent to date. Very moving. And here come's that flow I've come to depend on. Damn, might be one of my favorite songs. I'm really feeling this Ronny J beat too, very sentimental and inviting.
"Fuck you America/ Look what you made me" really discussing his creation as a person, with the hook mentioning his parents by name.
Not a lot to say other than, I feel like I know him a lot more now than I did before.
Some quick bubble pops? I don't know what that sound is but I like it. Okay and J.K. bursts on the scene to stomp on the beat. Sliding back into his melodic side for the hook, vibing to it heavy. "I remember when I met DJ Drama" flex up. Slight beat switch giving J.K. even more power behind his words.
Another switch up, we're really getting to see every faucet Jabbie has up his sleeves. "Looking at this rap like a sport/ Sitting on the bench waiting for my chance to hit the court/ So I can ball and get all this shit I couldn't afford/ I want more/ Shit I want a world tour" This is that moment J.K. He's really hitting all of these nuanced changes, I'm heavily fucking with this one as well. R.E.M produced is incredible, very evened out for all the switch ups involved.
A shining moment for J.K. The Reaper on a great debut album. Let's finish it just as hard.
I also really enjoy all these moments of J.K. talking. I'm really feeling his personality seep through this album. These hooks alone are enough for J.K. to blow up off of. Seriously, listen to this one. I've come to really embrace his slower flows too, makes me appreciate the attention to detail he pays when it comes to hitting the pocket of the beats he's on.
"I'm balling in 4K/ They got it on GoPro" I fuck with his flexes. And speed is the key to pulling the song all together again. He really chose the perfect beats for his debut. He just demolishes all of them and this is no exception. "I'm a city boy/ I ain't no pretty boy/ Bitches call me by my old name/ Like I'm Titty Boi"
Great job by Holly on the production.
HAHAHAHA this after song skit, is too fucking much. You just gotta hear this one yourself.
Athena & Poseidon
And here it is, the closer. Okay, okay. Telescope Thieves getting jazzy with the beat.
J.K. comes it quick with some near spoken word style bars. Instantly getting lost in this soundscape, just as the beat kicks in. There are just too many lyrics to try and pull one stand out. Seriously, this is the only song that was missing from the album. I didn't even know I needed this until right now. Quick stop to his vocals, near EDM style synths coming in. That bass is making me wanna stand up, not sure what that's about.
And here is Jabbie in his most melodic flow yet. And it's gone as quick as it came. Almost like the waves of the album cover slapping into me.
Okay the song is gone and I'm not sure who's talking, but this is the culmination of a tireless process in the FANG LIFE camp, that much is obvious. Beat switching up under the talking. Jabbie is coming back in, very ethereal on a beat that seems to stand alone in a universe of its own making. Getting some heavy alt rock vibes from it as it comes to a close.
The perfect ending .
And with that, twelve tracks are left to us by the Digital God of Broken Hearts. This is an album that feel like years in the making. A perfect example of the different abilities that J.K. The Reaper possesses, and yet I still feel like there is more to come from the Greensboro native. The way that Denzel Curry rocketed to fame through embracing his sheer uniqueness in an industry of a cut and paste mentality, J.K. too has the ability to forge his own lane to greatness.
If these are his tears, I can't wait to hear his anger.
One-Listen Rating: 7/10