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27 September, 2004@12:00 am

      While her buzz factor is currently at its highest point, Brooklyn’s female super-lyricist Jean Grae has been establishing herself for years. Her solo debut, Attack of the Attacking Things, was released in 2002 to critical acclaim, and her Bootleg of the Bootleg EP laid further claim into her status as the game’s strongest estrogen-charged MC. Touring with the Okayplayer family and recording songs with Roots, The and Talib Kweli only helped to raise the levels of anticipation for her next full-length. 

      This Week is upon us, and the potential she has displayed is met with much success. Detailing a common seven-day span in her life, This Week showcases a more complete MC than on her previous efforts. Where as Bootleg of the Bootleg EP was drenched in abrasive and dark moods, This Week covers a wider range of emotions. On “Intro,” Jean announces, “Critically acclaimed and shot down since Attack, and took all of the criticism, loaded it up and shot back,” instantly letting listeners know just how focused she is this time around. This warning of sorts is made forcefully apparent on This Week’s harder offerings. Adam Deitch’s eerie organ arrangement on “Fyre Blazer” inspires Jean to spit angry jewels, while she blesses the hypnotic “A-Alikes” with punishing bars like, “I’ve mastered it, fucked rhyme, killed its father, bastardized it/ masquerade it, I rolled a drive-by and patronized it.” 

     The real gems on This Week don’t come when Jean is firing off her consistently complex metaphors, though. Showing that, among all of her edgier fare, she is still a woman, Jean addresses the issues of relationships and the opposite sex with ease. Letting a potential love interest know that she truly is one of a kind on “Not Like Me,” she conveys a sexual confidence unheard on her past work. 9th Wonder contributes a beautifully executed blend of vocal wails and soulful horn samples for Jean to opine over her man on the undeniable “Supa Luv,” and “Give It Up” achieves a dream-like state as she ponders the mental tug-of-war that typically accompanies romantic feelings. 

      This Week is not a perfect record, however. While Jean’s lyrics remain impressive throughout, a few of the instrumentals do her talents little justice. For reasons unknown, she recruits production team Midi Mafia (of 50 Cent’s “21 Questions” fame) on “You Dont Want It,” but their painfully generic backdrop warrants skipping. The thunderous percussion of “Style Wars” will make heads nod at first, but its repetitiveness becomes evident by the time the hook comes in, while LT. Moe’s piano and staccato-drum combination does little to excite on “The Wall.”

      In the end, though, This Week is a triumph for Ms. Grae. Hearing her solid songwriting abilities on the E-mail themed “P.S.” is proof enough of her capabilities on the microphone. As the 9th Wonder-produced final track, “Don’t Rush Me,” brings the disc to close, there should be little arguments to the claim that Jean Grae is one of the most gifted lyricists in rap music today, male or female. If justice is served, she will become a hip-hop heavyweight in due time, and as specific bars heard on the aforementioned “Don’t Rush Me” hint toward, Jean seems to have that in her sights. “There’s nothing like knowing yourself, like the way I know the smoking has kind of broken my health, like the way I know my flow don’t make appropriate wealth/ I can’t change that, but, funny I’m saying that when its money I’m aimed at.” 

  Mixtape D.L.
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