featured REVIEW

Jamall Bufford & Kensaye Freedom Is TBO • 2015

Freedom. Not an easy theme to dedicate a whole album to. Yet: a piece of cake for Jamall Bufford. With sharp observations and biographical elements, the Athletic Mic Leaguer puts different interpretations of ‘freedom’ to the table.

We have a slight suspicion that the concept of ‘freedom’ came only after the tracks were finished. Some songs link stronger with the theme than others. But due to the array of different topics, the album sounds that more interesting.

‘This music makes it sound more dramatic than it really was’, says Jamall Bufford about the story he relates in ‘Memories’, over a gloomy piano lick. It underlines Bufford’s ‘coolness’. His ability to paint a smile on the listener’s face despite the song’s melodrama.

Not that the tracks don't cut like a knife. Earlier on in ‘Memories’, it goes: ‘Freedom is not worrying what the police will do to me on any given day’. While the opening track ‘Freedom Is Free’ (with the message ‘we’re only going to be free when we’re free in our heads’) and the single ‘Today’ -with long-time collaborator Magestik Legend- put the finger firmly on the pulse of troubled American society.

Adding to the album's versatility is Kensaye’s production. ‘Don’t Make A Sound’ is minimalistic electronica, ‘The Right Time’ is jazzy boombap, while ‘New Tonight’ is a house song. A rich palette of smooth bass lines, mellow piano licks, and dreamy synths, offer the perfect habitat for Jamall’s tight and enigmatic flow.

With London producer Kensaye, the Michigan MC has found an overseas soul mate, in the tradition of producers he worked with in the past, such as 14KT, Zo or Black Milk.

POSTED ON 09|01|2015 by cpf

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