The hip-hop heyday was circa 1985-1990. LL Cool J was an underground icon. Now he is still circulating mainstream releases of his thug aesthetic with aplomb and slight levels of embarrassment. A Tribe Called Quest is long disbanded but a classic legend, and Public Enemy still insists on touring every city seemingly every year with no end in sight and under appreciation on every festival line-up they ever make. But somewhere along the line, hip-hop became less about the production and more about the witty fast-paced wordplay and bombastic “under pop hoox.’
Indie instrumental hip-hop artist SayJak seems to reach with comfort back to a classic era of hip-hop; an era where the beat was the master and the words were significant but not overbearing. In actuality, SayJak doesn’t really rap at all (the moniker is a slang term for ‘being very quiet or mute). He doesn’t need too say much, allowing guest rappers to come in and drop a bar from their own inclusive world. It is accented well upon the tightly wrapped production in old-school styling of Sayjak’s production on his sample EP ‘Posted Notes.’
Though we are so far and beyond the golden age of hip-hop, even rappers from the era are tackling elderly hood with hell-bent impatience. But SayJak is new to the world, and seemingly throws nods and homage’s to the era which seemed to have crafted and influenced him with chiseled finality. Tracks like Dream Interpreter’ bounce with that old-school swagger, that thumping bass line acts as the arbiter to the beat, and the piano chimes in quaintly running the melody forward.
‘Friends Forever’ has that urban old-beat sound which is instantly charming. It bobs along at the perfect pace, recalling times of chilling back in your high-risen car and bobbing the head along the streets. If that was never you, the music’s clarity and fullness almost allows you to imagine another time and place where perhaps you WERE that guy. The fun is in the dreaming. The aura built in ‘Posted Notes’ does not have to be one of nostalgia, but one of dream-like joy. If you never grew up on this style of lean muscle-bound hip-hop, you wish you were- and you certainly see the appeal.
SayJak does not need to say anything, allowing room for his cohorts Signature and MonoPoleJoe to turn up the lyrical with and drop some R&B-inspired bars that talk more about big dreaming, love, and idealism with almost ironic overconfidence. It is a far cry from Dr. Dre’s Chronic or the weed talk that plagued classic hip-hop and in some ways compartmentalizes it to the very era- immediately dating it.
This is what makes the EP work so well. The production is nostalgic, but the lyrics rely on calming imagery and stories. And where lyrics are absent, the production has enough modern flourishes to leave it feeling relevant- just enough throwback to assuage some fans but enough new ideas to keep it fresh. One only looks forward to where SayJak takes this style, as ‘Posted Notes’ really is only a glimpse into an underground rapper that seems to have found an ideal sweet spot.
SayJak’s Debut Beat-tape, “Posted Notes” (Via Bandcamp)- http://sayjak.bandcamp.com/album/posted-notes
SayJak’s Website: http://www.monopolejoe.com/
SayJak’s Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/sayjak)
SayJak’s Twitter: @sayjakpolejoe
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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