By now most of you would have been aware of The Beat Generation series, with already released albums by producers such as Pete Rock (Petestrumentals), Jay Dee (Welcome 2 Detroit), Marley Marl (Re-Entry), Wil.I.Am Of Black Eyed Peas (Lost Change) and others. Up next, DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Philly-bred turntablist and producer that the world has grown to more associate with Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith from back in the day. Seldom ever seen, Jazzy Jeff and his production team, A Touch Of Jazz handle this LP with their vibrant Philly-Soul throughout. The amalgamation of mostly hip hop, touches of R&B, spoken-word poetry and even a deep house track, “In Time” featuring V at the album’s closing, unquestionably all make this an urban masterpiece. America’s present hotbed of urban finesse is Philadelphia if you hadn’t witnessed, and as Jazzy Jeff ropes in Jill Scott, ?uestlove, The Last Emperor, Shawn Stockman (Of Boyz II Men), J-Live, Freddie Foxxx and a host of really talented locals from his camp, the evidence from this homegrown LP is of pure excellence.
There’s too many excellent cuts here – approximately ALL – to magnify with my pen. Forget about looking at Jazzy Jeff or pre-judging this album slightly. It kicks off with a familiar jazzy, East Coast melody (the same one A Tribe Called Quest used on “Butter”) in the title track (“The Magnificent”) featuring rappers Pauly Yams & Baby Blak who in their lyrics, big up Jeff’s long-lasting career. Jeff’s scratching snippets offer vinyl cuts of Fresh Prince, Biz Markie and Special Ed classics which all collide in unison, introducing you to a post-summer, street-savvy soundtrack of quality productions and fresh undiscovered talent. Take for instance the lead single, “For Da Love Of Da Game”, again by Pauly Yamz & Baby Blak who ride and tear this smooth soul fusion of addictive guitar licks and Rhodes keys. It simply melts into your ears with pure, sweet easiness. Many of these tracks tend to invoke the ‘butter-smooth’ factor into its recipe. For instance, even when “Worldwide” pushes a Pete Rock-type production style, Jeff leaves the chorus wide open for a hook with some seductive soul singing. More and more smoothness is thrown at your dome when Shawn Stockton of Boyz II Men is glad to demonstrate his singing power on “How I Do”. When newcomer Raheim grabs a hold of the mic with his time-sensitive lyrics on “My People”, the floating atmosphere he creates is ascension to heaven. This dreamy, mid-tempo groove seems destined to be an anthem for the oppressed from city to city: “MY PEOPLE was made to endure, MY PEOPLE’S all shapes and colors, MY PEOPLE’S got more people with them, that’s more people – more sisters and brothers/MY PEOPLE stay strong as an OX, MY PEOPLE will never fail, MY PEOPLE will always remain, remain with a story to tell!”
As for spit-kicking lyrical emcees, it’s J-Live’s two tracks, “Break It Down” over the deadliest hip hop underground production here that takes you on a journey beyond the shine or floss of typical rap rotation. On his undeniably soothing next track, “A Charmed Life”, we see this LP standing up to test anymore crazy enough to step into this ring. It’s a shame that two excellent cuts as this only stand a chance of being heard, providing you are aware of this album. What’s up with radio these days? Even when one wants to take a break from the head-nodding power of other quite danceable party starters such as “Musik Lounge” featuring Odyssey and “Rock with U” featuring Eric Roberson, there’s still more to offer you relaxation. Chill out to the imaginative and pictorial memorabilia of Philadelphia’s black history that is painted through the spoken-word poetry of Jill Scott on “We Live In Philly”, and allow yourself to be drawn into a city that has always been rich in black culture.
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