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Black Beach

Artist: Zo The Jerk

Label: 22 Entertainment

By Andrew Kay | 15 May 2017

Detroit native ZotheJerk and producer Frost Gamble have teamed up to give savvy and tuned-in audiences a consistently heartfelt and socially scientific musical platter infused with passion and credibility.  Uniquely in the annals of music- Frost Gamble is given equal status as an artist in his own right, as if the creative process was the MC as front man and producer as unseen (if not unheard) beatmaker.  This is groundbreaking for being the first album (I can remember) as being MC and producer as two distinct, but complementary elements getting equal credit. Let this continue, as one can not exist without the other, with the best elements of both being, usually, classic albums, that stand the test of time.

The opening of the album, “Welcome to Black Beach” has that classic 60s vocal sample, possibly from a TV series or a political rally, over a soulful boom bap beat before ZotheJerk drops some stats illustrating fictional Black Beach, where things are still unequal, but less so.

‘American Made Me’ cranks things up a few notches, with a head-nodding beat with additional soulful elements. ZotheJerk’s unrepentant lyrics and acute social commentary keeps up with Frost’s energetic beat.

‘My Negus’- slightly lower tempo, with equally passionate lyrics. Good support from Guilty Simpson, who excels on these kind of boom-bap, laid-back productions.

‘if’ featuring Boldy James. Nice metaphorical rhyme trading with a positive, arm-flaying beat.

‘Drunk Roses’ featuring Coko Buttaflie. More reflective a song, Coko gives proceedings gravitas, which is a good spring board for ZotheJerk spitting some angry and thoughtful rhymes, about circular behaviour and not being able to get out of a rut.

‘Blaxplotation’-a flute-infused 70s homage to those movies directed by whites like Larry Cohen (“Black Cesar”) but directed to black audiences.  Vocalist Eveready does a credible nod to mimetically aping Curtis Mayfield and Young Bleed gives a Southern sippin’ slumpiness to his rhymes.

‘Loyal Victims’- Eveready gets another song to shine on. Support from Dustin Davie gives the lyrics about racism a lush poignancy. The beat is slow and soulful- fitting the lyrics like hand to glove.

‘Risk vs Reward’-more of a choppiness to this cut. Sadat X spits his usually thoughtful lyrics and the beat has a seductive sophistication. It’s boom-bap foundation with layered creative impulses and musically ambitious choices.

‘Kill Everything Moving’ features Tone Chop and a sample from 1987’s film “Full Metal Jacket.” This is a bit more darker, less positive, but no less aware of its surroundings.  It’s the album’s punch-to-the-stomach moment.  The beat is mid-tempo, but it’s enveloped in tragic darkness.

‘Mother of My Child’-has that depth of production that combines a thudding baseline and some creatively impressive decisions, giving the song layers, to complement the insightful lyrics.

‘Whispers in the Wind’ features KXNG Crooked over a hovering trumpet, with the social commentary notched up a tad. Lyrics are poetic and full of depth.

‘Etch A Sketch’-a more uptempo, journeyman type of soul, with trumpet stabs production wise and an overall more Summery vibe, spun with creative lyrics and clever word play. This is the album’s party anthem.

‘Keep Me Safe’-a lovely, smile-inducing love letter to ZotheJerk’s son, leaving the album bookended on a positive vibe; a hopefully nod to the future. Beautifully rendered by an intricate trumpet and a bouncy rhythm.

‘Black Beach’ is a album of diverse sand dunes of production. Calm waters, mixed with choppy ones; metaphors and social commentary conjuring up possible utopias whilst being grounded in stark realities.  It’s a solid piece of work, that moves with the tides of the times, hoping for changes in those tides.

Released on 26th May, 2017


Twitter: @TheJerkNation @frostGamble

Instagram: @ZotheJerk @Frost.Gamble


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