CD Review: Big Jess

Unknown Prophets
Big Jess Good Clean Fun
by Kandis Knight

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to do some housework and catch up on my local music listening. After digging through my local music crates I stumbled across Good Clean Fun by Big Jess of local Hip-Hop combo the Uknown Prophets.

I had listened to the record a few times before and remembered it had a light cheerful vibe—plus I was sick of the smooth jazz 100.3 rotation. Good Clean Fun is refreshing because it’s different, fun and entertaining. The CD cover art even matches the way you feel while listening to it.

My nephews made a pit stop at my house for some Popsicles while on their way to the neighborhood park and I didn’t have to turn off the CD because I was worried about them hearing anything too crazy. Once they heard a couple verses they were really digging it. I even caught them dancing in the living room to the first song (“Yea” featuring Jess’ UP bandmate MaDSoN and Brent Snyder).

I was glad it was music the little people could feel, I guess sometimes we got to make music like that. If it does nothing at all it expands your fan base into the future because little kids grow up to become fans and consumers. It gave them an appreciation for Hip-Hop on a level that was acceptable—but in the back of my mind I was thinking I could throw in my copy of Jay Z’s Black Album as soon as they left.

Track four, “Those Were The Days,” really brought back some of my own childhood memories. I felt like I grew up right alongside Big Jess or like he had been secretly watching me grow up on hidden cameras or something bugged out like that. It is set to some jazzy keys, a thumping bass line and some flirty-ass snares. Even though I didn’t know people younger than me played with Atari 2600 and Coleco Vision I know it was the shit for me back then also so I felt an immediate bond.My favorite verse so far? "I had the hockey shag and I didn’t even play that sport / I spent most of my time on the b-ball courts / see that was my thing co-captain of my Edison team / my favorite highlight was beating North yeah Khalid El Amin."

Track five, “Underdog,” gets a little bouncy and is my favorite cut so far. Lil’ Flip could of easily paid $25,000 for this track. It’s definitely a tight track and Big Jess’ lyrics are right up there quality wise ("I’m from the UPS Hip-Hop underdogs / I ain’t gonna stop it til the day I seen and done it all / I’m from the Prophets man the most underrated / but gives a minute and we’ll be the most celebrated." It’s a battle rap with some poppy overdubs that stick in your head for days. At the end of the song, Jess also included some individual shouts outs.

My man shouted out most of the local scene something that I always think is hot. It’s cool how Big Jess is showing some love. “This is Who I Am” is another track the likes of Twista would have paid big bucks for, but Jess pulls the song off probably better than a national cat could. “Can You Believe?” is another song that caught my attention, mostly because Gamble and Bobby Hatfield have cameos on the track. Gamble has a unique voice and I’d love to hear more of his music sometime soon. I hope he’s got an album in the works. The overall feel of the track is that of an old school big swing band number and interesting mixture for sure. “Good Bad Worse” seems to remind me of a Jigga track. Hummm?

“What I’m Hoping For,” produced by Medium Zach, has a couple hot verses including this one, "So now I’m a husband and a home owner / a dedicated father with a nine year old daughter / a school bus driver and a Hip-Hop artist / but my financial situations is hittin’ me the hardest." I’m sure everyone can feel that kinda pain, especially the group of local heads who are around that 30-year-old mark when responsibility starts really calling. When the music for the track called “Wannabee” came on, I would have bet money that Biz Markie was going to come out spittin’.

It’s got a down home blues feel and the song puts you in the mood for some straight clownin’ around. Big Jess used to want to be the Karate Kid, Jordon, Superman, Luke Skywalker damn! I only wanted to be Punky Brewster. He was definitely a complex kid growing up. "So when you ask me how’s it going, yo it’s never been better cause I’m no longer a follower I’m a trendsetter.

I’m happy being me I don’t wanna be you because I’m satisfied with all the things I’m able to do. I’ll never be the best at everything I attempt but atleast I tried and with that I’m content. It’s okay the wish, we all tend to dream sometimes but if you just be yourself things will be just fine."

At the end of the CD Big Jess went out on a limb. The song is called “Hands Up” and the hook, well, "I’m gonna jack this beat but don’t worry Ludacris I’mma give it back." My favorite verse on this track goes something like this:

"I come from the land of a lot of lakes, where there is a little bit of love and a lot of hate." Take a guess what went on with this track or better yet buy the CD and find out what went on with this track. The CD would have been fine without it and then he does it again impersonating 50 Cent on track 16 called “Stunt.” At that point I just realized Big Jess was just having fun and there is nothing wrong with that, besides he sounds just like 50. I can’t wait to see him perform it live!
To catch the Unkown Prophets live visit their website.

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