J Zone 

Album review: J Zone – Fish-N-Grits [+ album stream]

In Hip Hop by Alasdair Kennedy

New album review: J Zone

There are few artists in the game as real and raw as J Zone. The New York rapper/producer has been active since the 1993, laying comedy trash-talks over a stripped back old skool beats, making a big impact with his debut album ‘Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes’.

On this, his tenth album J-Zone keeps up his quirky motifs – the squeaky pitched-up vocals also used by Quasimoto, the raw beats and the hilarious disses – whilst also adopting some new live percussion performed by himself. The beats are funky and unpredictable, sporting a mix of samples and live organs and guitars. Some of the tracks are wholly instrumental. Production-wise they all have a worn feel as if they came straight off a dusty record from the 1970s.


Lyrically, J-Zone covers a variety of new topics, offering nostalgic thoughts on his childhood on ‘Caddy Coupe’ and making tongue-and-cheek social commentaries as on ‘Time For A Crime Wave’. However, by far the most recurring theme is the state of the rap industry, which J-Zone seems to critique with a real blaring sense of bitterness. He attacks it from all angles, dissing the state of the fashion-obsessed mainstream and the petty struggles of amateurs selling mixtapes on the street.

Listeners may not always agree with his every word (for one he doesn’t like bloggers!). However, his outspoken opinions are generally offset by a witty sense of humour exemplified by the track titles ‘Rap is a Circus – And We Hope The Elephants Trample Everyone’ and the hilariously harsh ‘Go Back to Selling Weed’.

Forward-thinking in almost every way, J-Zone may not be the youthful rapper he once was, but as this album proves he’s still ahead of the game. Not only does his subject matter remain daring and novel, but his sound also remains radical – employing live drums whilst his contemporaries are still hopping on the 808 bandwagon. Quite frankly, he’s earned the right to be outspoken.


Stream Fish-N-Grits below in full below and purchase digitally at J-Zone’s Bandcamp.