Previously known as an underground hip-hop beatmaker, Rap Album One is the aptly titled effort where Southern California artist Jonwayne introduces himself as an MC. The cover artwork is apt as well, as the bloke is entirely crackers, spitting out bizarre non-sequiturs that often string together to form vivid pictures, like when "The Come Up, Pt. 2" puts the listener in a high school home room with a young, frustrated, above-it-all Jonwayne, and then at his after-school gig at the video game store. "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead" comes on strong with the broken, brush-off attitude ("Welcome to the metropolis, where we don't even sweat an apocalypse"), then offers a hooky yet hallucinatory chorus somewhere between the Residents on the Cash Money label and the Insane Clown Posse on lean. Key track "The Come Up, Pt. 1," with Scoop Deville, gives up Jonwayne's own hook with "How you get those diamonds and the jewelry/That explains how you mackin' all the cuties," because this is one attractive eccentric, as if Action Bronson and Rick Rubin had a baby and it came out a crooked Kendrick Lamar. Scoop produces a cut while the rest is handled by the man himself, filling the album with indie and underground visions of what's popping on the charts, as "Black Magic" sways like a Kanye cut on half-speed while the great "How to Be a Gemini" ("I don't know if I'm crazy, or if the world can't hear me") sounds like the Roots have had one too many and are going to need a ride home. The album is a Stones Throw release, but the rapper's delivery is more in the tradition of stern Anticon stuff, although sometimes he's simply Kool Keith-ian, like when the goofy "Yung Grammar" offers "my prepositions will let you know where I'm at." Approach Rap Album One is an acquired taste that's worth acquiring because it isn't for everyone, but it's excellent.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries