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Review: Classic '90s Hip-Hop Production Makes Zick Jasper's 'Smokin' Blues' The Highlight Of 'Exhibition Mixtape #1' [AUDIO]

By Jesse Lent | July 30, 2015 03:39 PM EDT


There are a variety of hip-hop styles showcased on the Zick Jasper album "Exhibition Mixtape #1," released on Tuesday.

But the South Korean rap artist is clearly at his best when he turns his attention to the classic jazzy sounds of '90s icons like Digable Planets, Tribe Called Quest or The Roots, back before they became the "Tonight Show" house band, as he does on the song "Smokin' Blues" featuring Nop.K.

"Smokin' Blues" embodies the innovative vibrations that that turned a DJ-driven house party soundtrack in the South Bronx into an international sensation. A chord progression that defies easy categorization, built on a groove that is more circular and West African than one-four-five, with nothing but words placed on top--no vocal hooks, just rhymes.

Hearing that saxophone squeal at the opening of the track and the keyboards bubble up around that timeless "boom, bip," it's hard not to feel transported back to the New York City summer of 25 years ago, when the lack of cell phones and tablets and laptops sure seemed to make it easier to throw a great party. And once you were there, your friends either found you or you made new ones.

It would be difficult to fully enjoy the greatness of band like Digable Planets (who had a top-notch live band both times I saw them in the 1990s), if you had your head in a text or were trying to frame the perfect selfie. The music was too dense and the rappers demanded your full attention.

And though Zick appears to say "f*ck the Rolling Stones" a couple of times in "Smokin' Blues," with a beat this...well, smokin,' and a sound and rhyme style that is this respectful of the legacy of that Golden Age of hip-hop, let's just chalk that up to a cultural misunderstanding.

Listen to 'Smokin' Blues' featuring Nop.K from Zick Jasper's newly released "Exhibition Mixtape #1" RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  review, Zick Jasper, Nop.K, Exhibition Mixtape


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