featured REVIEW


Jeff Spec Rhythm And Blues Avery • 2005

Straight from Vancouver, comes Jeff Spec, recording since 1995, and therefore a producer/MC with quite a following and reputation in British Columbia and beyond. As a member of the City Planners crew, alongside Ishkan, Sweet G, Sichuan and Moka Only, the rep grew bigger and outside Canada, the recognition has only grown more with his 2002 release on Day By Day Ent, 'Dark City'.

Let me start off by saying that it takes quite a lot of guts for a rapper to name his album 'Rhythm and Blues', as the expression never did well amongst hip-hop purists ànd fans (remember the whole 'Rap and Bullshit' hype). My guess: he's referring to the authentic style of music; after all rhythm and blues are essential in order to have good music. Especially for a real and honest artist such as Spec, who starts his album with a hungry, mighty rap over an old school drum break like it was 1983 all over again. 'Been on the side-lines, believe I’mma win, it’s the pulse in my wrist, I’mma bleed through my pen', he courageously flows in 'In The Air', of which the chorus features Moka Only doin an interpolation of Phil Collins’ 'In The Air Tonight'. More recognisable sampling is laced by Sweet G in 'Who Am I', where he chops Ann Peebles' 'Trouble, Heartaches & Sadness' (of Wu-Tang fame) unto some polished head-noddin drums. In the meanwhile Jeff Spec keeps it true, talking about where he’s from ('I came from the bottom, Holmes, that’s why I’m so gutter'), what he tries to achieve and who he actually is. 'I am what I is, live it no less', he claims in the funky 'Back Against The Wall', holdin a steamy clavinet and a swingin bass line. It gets deeper in the introspective 'My Thoughts', produced by Murge, holdin some icey piano stabs and a shivering guitar riff. The production is solid and carries as well as outlines Jeff’s raw voice. The beats are sometimes rough, now and then heroic, sometimes smooth and soulful and carry additional instruments such as bass guitars, clavinets and organs.

'Rhythm And Blues' is a great effort and another step forward in the career of Jeff Spec. With the help of the fellow City Planners, he built an album that pleases me even more than 'Dark City'. The lyrics won’t fool you; honest, hungry, aggressive and well-supported by the musically rich production. No nonsense, no smoke, no mirrors, no gimmicks.

POSTED ON 02|09|2006 by cpf

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