Showing posts with label cousin ayjay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cousin ayjay. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

video review: 'the maze' by a:j

Well, this was an interesting record to untangle. Pretty interesting, to be sure.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then I've really got a ton of records to tackle - stay tuned!

Monday, July 18, 2016

album review: 'the maze' by a:j

Let's flash back to the end of 2013. I'm a mostly fresh-faced music critic coming up on my hundredth or so album review on YouTube, trying to ensure I've covered everything I need before the end of the year. And then, almost by accident, I find a record that's been languishing in my inbox for a few months, a hip-hop release by Cousin Ayjay, a relative unknown who still managed to capture my attention for some impressively layered production and an ambitious narrative framework exploring the listless day in the life of a perpetual stoner. Now if that's seems like an oxymoron, it's because this record falls into a weird spot for me: plenty of detail in creating the characters and world around him, but as a rapper Cousin Ayjay could feel a little sloppy. The production was lush and off-kilter, but it rarely developed any sort of momentum to drive the story. In other words, it did have many of the hallmarks of an indie hip-hop passion project: lush and expansive with little to no pop appeal, but also self-indulgent and overlong, not quite coming together as strongly as it could.

And yet say what you will about A:J - he dropped the 'Cousin' from his name a few years back - he's the sort of artist I like seeing in indie hip-hop, and thus when he approached me with his newest album, I was definitely intrigued to see where he was going next. So steeling myself for another complicated listen, I dove into The Maze - what did I find?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

video review: 'sonic dopamine' by cousin ayjay

Well, this took a long time to get out, but it's about time I post it.

Next up will be Dessa, and then it's time for YEAR-END LISTS! WOO! Stay tuned!

album review: 'sonic dopamine' by cousin ayjay

Let's talk about weed albums. 

I was once told by a friend that if I ever started smoking pot, I would inevitably start listening to either trance or hip-hop, and the more I've delved into the latter, the more that statement makes sense. There is a lot of talk about marijuana in rap music, from casual mentions to glorification to the rare anti-drug screed, and some rappers like Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa (hell, most of the G-funk scene) built their entire personas off of association with pot. Now I'm not puritanical when it comes to weed, and I am in favour of legalization and taxation just like cigarettes and alcohol, but I'm also aware of the fact that like any drug, abusing it can have detrimental impacts on your life. As for me, I'm not one to smoke pot and that always leads to an interesting question: do I need marijuana to truly appreciate or understand albums focused around the drug?

Now, the obvious answer is no: if the artist is good enough, they can recreate the feel and emotions of getting high through their production and the delivery and their subject matter. Acts like Gorillaz and the supergroup 213 were fantastic at this, but even then there were some tracks where I had to accept as a critic that they weren't going to make sense. Like with The Beatles' famous 'I Am The Walrus' or The Barenaked Ladies' raps in 'One Week', some songs are intentionally nonsensical. The issue that I've run into, however, is unique to weed albums, where I've called out elements for not making the slightest element of sense and then get criticized for not being 'on the same level, man'- implying that the truths these albums are conveying only become coherent or are relevant under the influence. 

But even with that possibility in mind, I was curious to check out the album from Cousin Ayjay, who approached me back in September to take a look. And while it is later than I'd prefer, I still was curious to take a look at his new record/mixtape Sonic Dopamine, which from the track titles and the few samples I heard definitely had the hallmarks of a weed album. Did it work for me?