Jimmy Jay

Les Cool Sessions, Vol. 2

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Cool Sessions, Vol. 1 showcased the cream of the early French hip-hop crop, from MC Solaar through Menelik and Les Sages Poetes de la Rue in settings created by a young French producer who really had a feel for the form. Cool Sessions, Vol. 2 features tracks by second-stringers who never graduated to the front ranks and it shows, although it's not really Jimmy Jay's fault. He still crafted strong arrangements that are big on vibes, mellow electric piano, and flute; they both fit the smooth quality of the French language and the hip-hop flow. But the rappers let him down here. "Victime du Rap" sounds lethargic, except for a little jazzy sample of "Get out My Life Woman" at the end, and, with all due respect for her attitude, Lady Laistee is a bit forced and too vehement in "Respecte Mon Attitude." The songs by Bambi Cruz and Mista Chik Clan have some OK elements, but maybe the most representative track is Say C's "L'Esprit Hip Hop," because the blowsy trombone solo over electric piano swells is better than the vocals. It's only at the end when the selections edge above the tolerable line: Movez'Lang's "Poison Juvénil" gets some hard-edged spirit going and Soul Jungle Band Gang get some flow happening over a harder arrangement than is Jimmy Jay's norm. His arrangement veers from minimal to oddly catchy with the spare guitar-chop-over-backbeat of Osez's "Tout Vient á Point," but the artists he's working with here -- unlike volume one -- can't bring the words and vocals up to the quality level of the music. Which leaves Cool Sessions, Vol. 2 having some value as a historical document for completist French hip-hop fanatics, but nowhere near the musical value and appeal of Cool Sessions, Vol. 1.

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