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Evolution of Hiprocksoul
Artist: 4th Aveune Jones
Length: 13 tracks
The title of the CD is pretty self descriptive – this disc is a refreshing blend of hip hop & rock & soul, though it’s a little light on the soul end of the combination.
Blippy synths, piccolo snares & New Power Generation guitars provide the musical welcome to the cd after a narrative from a girl named Jenny who gushes about how she loved her first stereo - the narration about how music has affected different interviewees is a theme that repeats throughout the remainder of the cd as a bridge between tracks.
4th Avenue Jones is fronted by Ahmad Jones - famous for his mid '90s hit "Back in the Day" when he was only 18. Now he's surrounded himself with female vocalist, Tena (who does double-duty as Jone's wife), a funk-rock guitarist: Timmy Shakes, violinist (yes you read that correctly!) Gailybird, Al Parker on Bass and Derrick Calloway on Drums. It’s very difficult to classify the style of music, but comparison to Lenny Kravitz and Prince from NPG days wouldn't be that far off; but then there is a distinct rap element here that trashcans that comparison.
Ahmad’s vocals vary across the tracks from a shaky, excited yet muted falsetto, to straight-up west coast rap, to r&b singer.
“Fabulous Dramatics” opens with a deliciously glitchy synth line over a hip-hop beat and some sing-song rap about exes & what a shame it is when they can’t let go of a relationship. It turns into a hard rocker that could use a return of the glitch synth a couple more times. Later in the track, Tena comes in with her own rap and sailing vocals to tell the ex to lay off of her man. The positive repartee between the double-Jones on this track is very refreshing, considering modern hip-hop radio-play that features male and female vocalists trading graphic descriptions of their sexual prowess.
"Unhappy Birthday” begins with a lightly bit-crushed '80’s Casio synth line. The theme is an apology of Ahmad to Tena. The best section of this song comes with a nearly reggae rap break over top of those slightly mangled Casio synth tones. It’s just one of the delights that creep up in this disc in unexpected places. No keyboard player is listed in the credits and one assumes that it’s Gailybird’s violins being processed through some kind of weird science, to provide these blips and beeps.
“Overloaded” starts off with another seriously lo-fi lead but evolves into a 120 bpm head bobber that includes one of the disc’s more memorable lyrics:
I love you. You know my pain. When I get overloaded. Your voice is my Novocaine When I get overloaded.” Everyone needs this kind of a voice in their life.
“Take it Away” is a serious plea to God to remove us from this mess. This is a showcase of the unique sound of 4thAJ: Ahmad raps with intensity - Tena soars high above - Timmy chucks in some throw down POD-proud power chords in the chorus section, and we’ve got that piccolo snare popping through as well. Sometimes we get comfy down here and forget about the struggles that others go through. This song is a reminder that it will be so much better above - yeah God 'take me away'.
“Who’s Watching Me” features Tena's powerful pipes and Shakes in his best Kravitz-with-his-kunch-kap-on guitar in the chorus. Tena’s vocals really soar and this disc could stand to include more of her out front.
The advance release CD has disclaimers that the mix on the CD had not been finalized nor mastered, nor the final track order, but there are no complaints here about the results on the disc.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Gotee markets this CD – which section it will be placed into: Rap, Rock, Hip-Hop, or the 4th Avenue Jones bin? Whichever it is, buyers will be treated to something unique. Scheduled to be released on March 29, 2005 – be there.
Scott Lake March 19, 2005
Stereo: The Evolution of HipRockSoul was meant to be released by Gotee Records, not necessarily by Interscope Records. This CD needed some thought, some added creativity, and some past letdowns to even be mused up. It is in stereo, the "new" music listening format, with the "old" being mono, and the "ancient" being natural.
4th Avenue Jones is hip-hop based, giving attention to rock, while meshing soul, to get a touch of a lighter feel. The thoughts in the music seem to derive from thought, faith reminiscing, pain, and the glory of living under the watch of a great God. Wife and husband, Ahmad and Tena Jones, do great low and high vocals with soul; then in the same song, they can rap with the best of them, and that's only the vocals! In adding nice smooth soul music into the mix, there are chances that it will add a touch of spirit, emotion, and a lighter-feeling flow.
Oh . . . yet, do not forget about rocking out! 4th Avenue Jones adds the bass and the guitar to rock it up which does not mean it necessarily constitutes this to be "rap-rock/rapcore"--no no, do not get confused by that idea, because 4th Avenue Jones still is heavily based off of a hip-hop thang, and rap-rock is based mostly of rock--big difference here. Lets start calling 4th Avenue Jones' music uniquely Hip-Rock-Soul, in that order.
Stereo:The Evolution of HipRockSoul is a fine start to the evolution of the revolution of 4th Avenue Jones "Hip," "Rock," and "Soul" music.
Len Nash 3/31/2005