Saturday, May 30, 2009

Album Review: Jaspects 'The Polkadotted Stripe'

I remember a time when most popular artists all but shunned higher education and skipped school to pursue big dreams of money and fame in the music industry. But lately if you are looking for the next big thing in music you need to look on the college campus, hell even most rappers got degrees now. And now the next big college musicians to hit the scene are Morehouse's music department alumni the Jaspects with their latest album The Polkadotted Stripe. The Jaspects have been gaining a lot of momentum on the interwebs lately and I recently heard of them through Twitter thanks to NCCU Communications graduate Phonte. Their style of music is an interesting fusion of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, and a little Rock thrown in for balance and is a little reminiscent of the group from illadeph that has been known to experiment with different genres.

The Polkadotted Stripe is definitely a treat, Morehouse definitely has to be proud of these grads. They created a deep and moving piece of work that takes you on a journey though a vast musical landscape. The very first track '2012' featuring the quirky and immensely talented nerd girl Janelle Monae is a futuristic funky jam that is fused with different styles and melodies, and they were able to utilize the reviled auto-tune to surprisingly amazing effect here. 'Falling,' is a nice groovy track that makes you think of good times chilling with friends at the Sunday afternoon jam session. The structure of the album is very orchestral in nature in that songs often linger on for a minute or two long after the lyrics are done. Most notably done on the title track 'Polkadotted Stripes' is an 8 minute long anthem that is multi-layered and genre bending.

There is a lot to love about the album but sometimes all that genre mixing and experimenting can be a little over stimulating and sometimes it sounds like the album doesn't know what it wants to be. It could be that the title 'The Polkadotted Stripe' is a metaphor for confusion and mix matching, like some of the music is. Often the instrument heavy music can be over powering, not to mention the way the delivery method of the lyrics. Tracks like 'Like A Drum' and 'Be Your Man' take the gimmicky auto-tune too far and they would have been better suited without it's use. The album does pick back up with the smooth and sultry ballad 'Find My Way To Love' featuring newcomer Chantae Cann. But then it drops you right back in the confusion with 'Chuck Jones' which is bordering somewhere between genius and annoyance. It's a rocked out fairytale song that either tries to be socially conscious or scared straight, but it does pick up in the end fading into a nice instrumental melody straight into the album's finale.

Overall 'The Polkadotted Stripe' is a nice musical ride and one you should have in your rotation. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how well crafted the music is and you'll find yourself nodding or swaying along with the beat. The Jaspects are definitely worth studying more, so educate yourself.

JayTeeDee gives Jaspects 'The Polkadotted Stripe' 6 out of 7 head nods.

Head Nod Scale

1=Don't waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there's "two and a possible".
5=It's a "good" album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the "Rewind Factor" more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.

Purchase Jaspects 'The Polkadotted Stripe' from Amazon or iTunes


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