When Prince Paul dropped his storyline concept album Prince Among Thieves, I was totally floored by the amazing style of the main character Breezly Brewin. There was this thick New York accent he rhymed with that just couldn’t get out of my head - it came out and made every word seem that much more real and gritty. After buying Prince Paul’s LP I immediately went about finding out all I could about this particular MC. After asking a few cats I knew they told me that this rapper had a group called the Juggaknots and they put out some wax on Bobbito’s old label Fondle Em.
Taken from the 1993 Clear Blue Skies EP they recorded for Bobbito, the now refurbished Clear Blue Skies (or Re:Release) includes those original selections, but with ten or eleven new tracks that were recorded, but never released from those original sessions. So, while the material is new, its not entirely brand new, as the flow and vibe of the LP makes almost immediately known (this is some classic old-school shit that knocks from start to finish). While the Juggaknots trio of Breezly Brewin, Heroine, and Producer Buddy Slim come with a style that you can’t quite put a finger on, but it sure sounds good. The laid back delivery on songs like on “Who Makes It Hot” makes you wish you were out in the park on a summer day after playing some b-ball. From the jump off of this album you know you are in for a treat. The instantly recognizable John Coltrane piano sample on “Trouble Man” sets a tone that screams classic. Almost like a one-two combination, the next track “Jivetalk” rocks with an amazing beat that consists of water trickling, instrumentation and Breezly Brewin repeating the nonsense words “Blahzee blah blah”, a strange mix that needs to be heard to be understood.
Beyond the loops and beats placed down on this record, it’s the vocals that get the job done right. Breezy’s vocal tone comes in clear on all songs; never getting muddled over any production. His incredibly distinct voice handles every track just about perfectly and Heroines near-similar accent compliments her male counterpart well on tracks like “Who Makes it Hot”, but the shining example of how a voice, a track, and subject matter work off each other in perfection comes on the title track “Clear Blue Skies”, a debate between a white father & son about the inter-racial love interest of the young man.
In all my music listening very rarely do I get to hear an album that makes me want to go call my friends up and play it for them; very rarely does a group interest me so much that I feel compelled to conduct a search for their entire catalogue. This group is that rare exception, and this album proves why. The search may have been long and hard for this album, but the pay off made it well worth the wait.
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