Review of Raw Money Raps Album by Jeremiah Jae

On Raw Money Raps, Jeremiah Jae's first LP on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label, evidence of the ever bubbling resurgence of obscure, experimental hip-hop being on the up becomes all the more clear. Brainfeeder was almost certainly the best choice for Jae when it came to deciding on a label, as it is one that gives him the independence to continue his weird-streak, with the help of the ever-influential and ever-wondrous FlyLo over his shoulder.

Jeremiah Jae Raw Money Raps Album

Like with FlyLo, Jae channels the cosmic eccentricity of the most left field of jazz artists, think Sun Ra and the more angular aspects of Thelonious Monk's output. Whilst this is the closest thing to straight up hip-hop from Jae so far, the outlandish beats (put together largely by Jae himself), his atypical approach to the mic and non-linear song structure are all still here. Here, rather than commercialising himself (which is near impossible), Jez has instead become more at home with his voice and no longer afraid to put it on tape.

Past releases have largely concerned Jae's production work and rarely see him step behind the mic, however now he takes full reigns over all of the album - vocals and all - and comes off relatively unscathed. It is only relative though, with RMR often relying largely on the handful of highs found on the album that rescue the album from being cast aside for simply being 'meh'.

Like fellow hip-hop futurists Shabazz Palaces, Jae utilises obscure, psychedelic samples with his own matter-of-fact rapping style and you need look no further than 'Hercules Versus the Commune' and 'Cable' to notice some distinct similarities between his and Ishmael Butler's own rapping style. However, it isn't all abstract samples and progressive approaches, as he also mixes in his own brand of throwback style into the mix too. Take 'Money and Food'; whilst is has been given the full Naked Lunch treatment, at its core it is still essentially unhinged synths and 808 drum kicks that would make Double Duce proud. Likewise with the single 'Money', Jae waters from the same hole as the Pro-Era newcomers with his classic 90's NY beats - again spun on a Jeremiah Jae trademark turn.

Yet, on a whole, the album rarely surpasses these few instances of particular impressiveness and at 19 tracks long, it is far too sluggish and drawn out to make any real impression or impact. Maybe he's a little late in releasing RMR, but with Shabazz Palaces' seminal Black Up already released and the work of Spaceghostpurrp, Lil Ugly Mane and Le1f making the rounds since his first few beat/mix tapes came out then perhaps Jae has lost the sense of importance and immediacy that he first withheld.

Before Brainfeeder picked him up, Jae was already tipped to be the next big thing in hip-hop. Listening to Raw Money Raps leaves you questioning just why he was placed so high in the first place, when there's so many other to choose from now - most of whom have already released well-received debuts already. He is still a force to be reckoned with, only problem with RMR is that, other than its unnecessary length, it has lost some of the direction that DXNCE and other past works retained. Jae knows what he's doing, he just hasn't yet got to grips how to transcribe this into a full length. Personally, I'm already looking forward to his next release because with a little less filler and more focus, it could very well be one of the best rap albums not to be released yet.

Joe Wilde

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