Showing posts with label a:j. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a:j. 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?