Music Tu Madre, Bottle of Whoop Ass, Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes, Sick of Being Rich, and now A Job Ain’t Nuthin But Work, have more than given purpose to J-Zone’s lengthy stay in the independent hip hop game. These releases have also proven another thing, Zone is one ignorant dude. Whether you want to look at his bananas production or his obscure subject matter, Zone has developed into the “People’s Champion” emcee. By saying everything that you only thought about and making it sound good has secured J-Zone’s place amongst the comedians of hip-hop. At one point in his career, Zone flirted with retirement, but that route may have been too easy for the average rapper. Now what started as a senior project in college has developed into a full-fledged career. With that, Zone attempts to do the unthinkable and come original again with his 6th release, A Job Ain’t Nuthin But Work.
While Sick of Being Rich was heralded as J-Zone’s most polished, but not quite his best work (a la Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl), it left many fans praising him, but most of his critics complaining of more of the same. So guess what? Shit hasn’t changed with A Job Ain’t Nuthin But Work. As a matter of fact, this may be Zone’s best and most diverse work to date. Whether Zone is taking a shit on his city of New York that many take pride in (“Bullshit City”), or dissing every basketball/emcee (“A Friendly Game Of Basketball”) it is apparent that Zone isn’t doing this for anybody but himself. It just so happens that many of us find his sarcastic wit and over the top humor appealing. Take “Baldylocks” for instance, where Zone talks trash about chicks who “went from Alicia Keys to Sinead O’Connor” all over his signature production. Zone says things that you may only catch on an episode of
Chappelle’s Show (“I slapped her scalp with a spatula for psyching out a brother/and looking like an Ohio Players album cover/not a good thing she reminds me of Lou Gossett/rocks a bandana when she wants to Tupac it”). In between Onyx jokes and vocal snippets one may also notice how refined J-Zone’s delivery has become. The progress from Music Tu Madre up to now is visibly significant. Watch how Zone clowns the club scene on “Disc Ho (feat. Dick Stallion)”. With a club friendly beat and Dick $tallion doing his best Pharrell Williams impression, Zone recounts an uneventful night at the club which leaves him on crutches after showing off his dance moves. Zone also makes it no secret that he can’t hold his liquor from his “Disco Ho” escapades to the drunken stupor of “Lightweight (Remix)”. Zone has evidently become more than just a clown on the mic, he’s mastered his art of emceeing.
Many may miss the accordion ride of “Bum Bitch Ballad” or the indistinct samples of “Orphan Babies” from his previous work, but Zone still finds ways to come with it behind the boards. The manic thump of “Oops! (I’m Sorry Bitch)” bleeds of trademark Zone. Rambunctious sound bites accompany J-Zone’s half-assed apology for fucking up many events in his time. The album’s only guest spot outside of Old Maid Ent. is crafted a beat, which seems custom made only for him. Devin The Dude collaborates perfectly well alongside J-Zone with his own boorish style on “Greater Later” as the two observe their piss poor celebrity status. Zone even feels the need to give a nice little porno instrumental for all the kids out there on “Sleazy Listening”. Nothing but in your face, unapologetic, J-Zone at his finest. The dude is just as ignorant through his production as he is through his rhymes.
What separates this album from previous endeavors is the creative concepts that J-Zone comes up with. While trying to get a little radio play, Zone reverses the curses on “Edit These” but then flips and does the unthinkable. Just to spite “corny ass DJ’s”, J-Zone replays the song with the rhymes playing in reverse and the curse words left in their original form. A big middle finger to all the stations that won’t play J-Zone. Playing the role of the ugly dude that gets all the fine chicks of “Kill Pretty” resounds of nothing but spiteful ignorance. Many emcees talk about how many chicks they can get because of their looks, but how many become the dude that knows he’s ugly but “has never had a girl who is less than a 7″. He constantly disses himself (“Got a blind date with this chick named Sherane/with an ass so big it don’t fit on her frame/I show up looking dead wrong and she’s irate/Not a supermodel, more like a primate/Bitch talkin about the situation is moot/ “you shoulda called your last album Sick of Being Cute”) but so elegantly and cockstrong that it is laugh out loud hilarious. For the first time Zone gets introspective and takes a look at his own work with “The Zone Report”. He strips down the humor and really digs his nails into this one. Observing his own accolades that many missed in between the humor (Who the fuck independent been around six years/dropped five LP’s and still here…ummmmm) and narrating his career thus far makes J-Zone a little more human than the average rapper.
After all is said and done we are left with one of the most entertaining albums of the year. J-Zone has done it again and will keep many of us hungrily awaiting his next release. The only question left to ask is “What else can the jester of hip-hop do?” Every time the question is asked Zone comes thru and A Job Ain’t Nuthin But Work isn’t any different.
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