It’s hard to believe that rap’s current king, Jay-Z, started off as the sweat-suited partner to 80′s rapper Jaz, who made a little noise with the Fresh Prince-like narrative, “Hawaiian Sofie”, as 2Pac would have reminded us later. This was some time ago, and you’d think by now he would have hung his mic up; but while he looks like he is pushing forty, he still rhymes with the voice of a youth, sounding as fresh as he did in his younger years.
Jaz has teased us with a number of mixtape joints and independent 12-inches released over the years, enough to entice into wanting a solo album. But what we get with Jaz-O and Immobilarie’s Kingz Kounty is instead a business opportunity for Jaz to hopefully rediscover Jay-Z, in the form of several young apprentices, P. Knocka, Floss, Tah Jiggz, Neilleon and rookie hopeful, Dibiase. In a nutshell, rather than Big Jaz’s triumph return to the game, this is an introduction to The Immobilarie Family (also known as “The Council”, in the past), and yes, like most crew albums, it is scattered and disappointing.
Truth be told, it does have its share of enjoyable moments, such as the throwback joints “Love Is Gone” (prod. by DJ Premier) and “Diaries”, and it does produce a decent club banger or two, (“Let’s Go!”, “Never Forget You”), however dated they may sound. And obviously, when the high profile guests come in, they steal the show, as M.O.P. and Ras Kass charge-up the mics on “Pledge Allegiance”, and even Mr. Cheeks breathes some much needed life into “BQE”.
Jaz gets his time to shine solo on “Deadly”, but unfortunately, this track only whets the appetite for more sample-based solo action from Jaz (think Sauce Money’s mixtape fave “What Time Is It” or the “Kingz Kounty” 12″). Too much of the album is spent following outdated, late 90′s production styles, such mimicking those of Swizz Beatz (“This Be Him”, “I Know What You Like”) and big apocalyptic tracks in the vein of Nas’ “Hate Me Now” or Puff’s “Victory” (“Jinkin’”, “Enemy Lines”). Not to mention, Jaz takes a back seat, leaving most of the mic-chores to Dibiase, who delivers sub-standard thugisms, dipped in so-so punch-rhymes. Among the other cast of emcees, Dibiase definitely proves to be their leader, but next to Jaz, or any of today’s commercial super-heroes, he proves exhausting on roads-to-nowhere like “This Be Him” or the “Oochie Wallie” clone, “Take Me Papi”. In his defense, he delivers a somewhat saving grace with the extended drug-metaphor, “Crack & Heron”, (part of this complete breakfast), not to mention some funny metaphors sprinkled throughout the album.
This album has it’s moments, but they are few and far in between. Enjoyment of the album truly depends on how big of a fan the listener is to the sub-genre of east-coast underground thug-rap, but it sure isn’t reaching the many-times-over platinum masses of Jay-Z. For this critic, the most disappointing aspect of the album was watching Jaz put his faith into a sub-par project such as this, after he has showed so much promise in the past.
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