KC’s Music Monday: J57

If I was a musician, after finishing a project, I’d probably allow myself take some time to relax before starting the next one. And that’s one of maybe thirty reasons why I’m not a producer or rapper. Brooklyn-based J57, of the Brown Bag All Stars, just happens to be both. And he puts the work in.

I always personally enjoy when an artist breaks into another element of creating – such as a DJ learning production or a rapper getting into more than just rocking the mic. It’s all about putting passion into learning your craft inside and out, and J57 is living proof there’s nothing wrong with being well-rounded in the studio these days.

I also really appreciate the “no days off” vibe I get from all members of the Brown Bag All Stars. After all, you get out of it what you put into it – in this case, it’s a multitude of amazing tracks. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that with the BBAS (much like with our music scene in the 518), there is a solid and visible balance between independent projects and group endeavors, and support for every effort from both the members of the group and those listening alike. It’s hard to keep up, really, and that definitely holds true with J57.

Today, URB Magazine debuted a new track by J57 titled “Heisenberg Blue which is this pretty instrumental that holds a large, cinematic feel before turning into a tease by ending quicker than I’d have liked. Luckily, the track is part of an forthcoming “freEP” presented by URB Magazine, titled 0057: FlaskLIFE, so there will be more to look forward to in the near future of this capacity.

Last week, a large majority of J57’s catalog was made available by iTunes and I spent the last week or so listening. Having the opportunity to dig deep into the archives of a musician such as J57 is a special one, as you can hear shifts in experimentation, style and quality as he works to develop his signature sounds throughout different projects.

Additionally, J57’s most recent beattape The Analog Tape 2 dropped last week, so needless to say, there’s a lot to catch up on, especially if you (like me) are relatively new to this producer/emcee’s personal projects, outside of the Brown Bag All Stars. The beattape is kinda dreamy in general, with atmospheric vinyl crackles, some angsty-but-fun sampling and funky instrumentation to balance it all out.

Going into the J57 archive, some of my favorite tracks span full years from one other, such as “Days Still Turn to Night featuring BBAS + ATR from 2012’s The Ports EP, “DETLANY featuring Denmark Vessey and Tenacity with production by PJ Katz from 2014’s Wax Aesthetic EP, “Sound Familiar featuring Koncept off of DeeJay Element’s Reality Kings And Reason EP, “Gold Rush off of 2013’s Trill Cunningham EP with F. Virtue, “Oh Baby (J57 remix)” off Koncept’s 2013 Malt Disney, among countless others. You really can throw a dart at J57’s catalog and find a gem pretty much every time. There is a confident versatility to J57, and while hip hop is a genre where he shines, he can (and does) adapt well in other directions without losing sight of what he’s about, which is the mark of a true artist in my eyes.

I thoroughly dug 2012’s 2057 EP and this year’s Wax Aesthetic EP, and would suggest checking either one of those out as a starting point. Admittedly, I listened to J57’s catalog track by track on my phone randomly and sporadically, as opposed to listening in a focused front-to-back album run-through like I normally do. The consistency in the polish of the production stood out clear to me and I appreciated how he uses sampling sparingly and at times rarely, and really focuses on the instrumentation at the core.

With the amount of people that J57 collaborates with, I will admit I did find myself wondering who’s voice I was listening to at times. Upon second and third listens, I found it easier to separate J57’s voice from the pack and really enjoyed getting to know his patterns and lyricism. Focusing on evolving with both producing and rapping a commendable thing to say the very least.

You can catch J57 on SIRIUS/XM Sunday nights at 10pm as part of the “Rap Is Outta Control show with DJ Eclipse and D-Stroy. J57 also has a ton of tricks up his sleeve, and I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what project he has coming out next (as I don’t know!), but I do strongly advise you keep him, Koncept and the BBAS on your radar, starting now if not already.

Spend some time with J57’s music this week; you’ll be glad you did.

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