Jared Evan - Boom Bap & Blues

Posted March 5, 2013

In 2012, Jared Evan was featured 12 times on our homepage. Does that mean that in 2013, he will find himself showcased for our readers 13 times? Only time will tell, but just seven weeks into the new year he is on the right track. The alt-hip-pop artist has hooked up with respected producer Statik Selektah for the release of his latest album, Boom Bap & Blues.

The project, which will be available both for free download and digital purchase, features Booth-featured selections "Are We Almost There Yet?" and "Uma Thurman." Joining Evan on BB&B are Action Bronson, Hoodie Allen, Joey BadA$$, Lil Fame, Termanology and Wais P, while production is handled by Selektah and instrumentation is courtesy of Cas Weinbren.

Boom Bap & Blues Album Review

What’s in a name? That which we call a genre, by any other name would sound as dope. True, labels do have their place. Generally speaking it’s good to know if I’m listening to ATL trap or Mongolian folk music before I press play, but the names we place on music can also be confining. But even if an artist acknowledges that being limited by genre can do more harm than good, that doesn’t mean they’re capable of breaking those limits. Anyone can throw a bunch of unusual ingredients into the same bowl, but it takes a truly skilled chef to make the result palatable, let alone delicious.

Thankfully, Jared Evan is a truly skilled chef (my apologies to Raekwon). Perhaps the only drummer/rapper/singer you’ll ever hear, Evan has been working to erase the lines between genres for years, but those lines have never blurred more beautifully than on his new aptly-titled album, Boom Bap & Blues. Thanks in no small part to production from Statik Selektah, who’s got a long track record of blending soul and R&B into even the hardest hip-hop beats, Boom Bap & Blues finds Evan pushing hip-hop into some typically unexplored territory. Best of all, unlike some other albums I could name (cough cough), the results sound completely organic and natural.

As good of a writer as I am (pats self on the back), Evan manages to lay out everything I just did in the last two paragraphs on the album’s opening cut, Blue. Blue opens with some good ol’ fashioned scratching and sampling, quickly transitions into a kinetic piano line laid over some sharp drums and Evan's slightly raspy singing style, which quickly gives way to a fully rapped verse. It’s a lot of ground to cover in just over one minute, but mixing Nas with a little Stevie Wonder sounds effortless for Evan. Similarly, Are We Almost There Yet? features the kind of soulful production most rappers would have diluted with materialistic rhyme schemes, but Evan's ability to paint a far more nuanced picture with his vocals elevates Almost There into something truly uplifting. The Devil Wears Prada doesn't connect quite as strongly, it’s one of the few cases where Evan’s vocals can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the beat, but its presence on the album as a true relationship cut ultimately provides some necessary balance. And perhaps more importantly, you could literally count the amount of people who could make a track like Prada on one hand; Evan is on that hand.

As strong as his presence is, Evan is really only a piece of Boom Bap’s larger puzzle. In addition to his stellar beatwork, Statik also clearly opened up his Rolodex and called in some more straight up rap buddies, resulting in standout tracks like Black & White, featuring a verse from Joey BadA$$ that keeps the track grounded. And that’s just the tip of the unexpected rap collab iceberg: Action Bronson throwing down a relatively subdued (I said relatively) opening verse on Pro Create? Yep, that really happened. Consummate pimp Wais P showing up for a contribution to the otherwise almost-trippy, Beatles influenced Television? That really happened too. And then after Wais P, touring buddy Hoodie Allen shows up for a more pop-oriented Toast? You guessed it, really happened. Impressively, despite all the guest features and constantly shifting musical styles, Boom Bap & Blues still feels cohesive, which in many ways is Jared and Statik’s biggest accomplishment.

So what does Boom Bap & Blues sound like? It sounds like good music – music too good to be confined to a name. I’m sure that won’t stop some from trying, but while they’re busy sweating the semantics, I’ll be listening. Yeah, I’d rather be me too.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted March 5, 2013
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