Review ·

"Don't buy this product, you don't need it," declares Jel at the beginning of his fifth full-length. Even though he's talking about a car, you know and he knows what he's doing. It's a common occurrence on Soft Money, where every sentiment and expression is carefully placed and artfully balanced.

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Even on his openly political tracks - one by himself ("Soft Money, Dry Bones"), where he comes off as a competent rapper, and one ("WMD") with Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, who comes off as much more - the lyrics and music create a real song with real points, rather than the all-too-often knee-jerk comments found on most songs of their kind. Each song uses little jokes ("Sample my words/ Speed it up now/ You've got a hip-hop classic on your hands") to play with the big ambition of the sounds; it's a testament to both that the record never gets pretentious.

 

Most of the album, however, is instrumental hip-hop, and most of it works beautifully, ranging from down-tempo flourishes to guitar-driven tracks, all while weaving in a sample here, a woman's voice there, and unifying dark humor throughout. In a genre where dullness is constantly being fought off, there's never a moment on Soft Money moment when monotony threatens to take over. It helps that the record is just more than forty minutes long and often invokes the production that made Jel so well-regarded with Themselves.

 

Anticon can often be a love 'em or hate 'em affair, mostly due to Doseone's, ahem, unique delivery. If you end up on the hate 'em side because of that, Soft Money might be just the record for you. Here is all of the great musical innovation of a producer really trying to make music he loves, without a difficult voice to endure. It's sure to be one of the better deejay releases of the year.

 

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"All Around" MP3

"Nice Last" MP3

Jel on Anticon's Web site (includes MP3s)

Anticon Web site

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