Jansport J - P H A R O A H
P H A R O A H
Jansport J (Justin Williams) has always been a good producer. Known for his tight hold to those early-Kanye vibes, when soul met hip hop in a yet-unheard way, and his perfect hip hop drum drops, his ear is tuned to the golden days of the genre in a way few others these days are. Any rapper would be lucky to get one of his beats, and his latest album p h a r o a h has no shortage of solid tracks just waiting for some big name to sync up with - but this album is about so much more than that. Entrenched within these 27 tracks is a true hip hop experience - not in the bombastic sense, but in a subtle way, letting the music speak for itself, taking you on a journey of the producer's own musical experience. In interviews, Jansport has hinted at his New York City on the record, and those East Coast elements are there, especially on "BKNY" and "Okay…” But p h a r o a h is much more of an exploration of the black experience as a whole, from African rhythms to James Brown's improvs. Just when you think you have Jansport J figured out, he throws you something you never saw coming, and usually something you never knew you needed. That warmth you feel when you’re listening to your local old school hip hop radio station permeates the entire record.
The emotions the album sparks are half celebration, half lament. The idea that all at once we can feel shitty, yet still celebrate - it’s the novel human existence in a hip hop beat. It is really easy to lose yourself in p h a r o a h because it is so very smooth. Before you know it "Crush" is worming it's way into your ears, even before you realize it's a Michael Jackson sample. Soundscapes almost always come from the electronic genre and more often that not have to deal with space and the ethereal. Somehow Jansport J has managed to create a soundscape for the hip hop block. You are transported, and not to the negative, but to the sheer creativity that exists everywhere we look. There is the occasional harsh transition, but more than sore thumbs they serve as a change of pace, a signal that we are moving to the next moment. The album is a personal look directly into Jansport’s soul. You can tell this is the music in his heart, and lucky for us he’s an expert at translating it into a collection of tracks that we can immerse ourselves in over and over again - and we definitely will.
9.1 out of 10