I was going to say that Ms. Jade
was "merely" the Mya of rap, by which I mean that she rises and falls on the strength of her producers, hooks and guest raps like Mya does. Only then I remembered how often I like Mya-for-Mya
- her bravely fragile ingenuity, her silky pristineness - whereas I still haven't quite worked out whether I like Jade-for-Jade much. Which sounds perhaps a bit harsher than I intend it to be, as does the fact that the word I'm grasping for might be "indistinctive" (or "generic"?). Jade is Lil' Kim without the intimidation, Foxy Brown without the neurosis, Eve without the insousciant skill.
Leaving aside the obligatory femme-to-femme comparisons, Jade reminds me a bit of Noreaga, startling me with the occasional great line or couplet, but otherwise being exceedingly competent at allowing her thick, faintly nasal flow to fade into the beat, rhyming so rhythmically on-point that it's barely there, just another sonic component (cf. um... Jay-Z? The way he raps against the groove, y'know?). Of course it always takes ages for the words to sink in for me, so I shouldn't be surprised that the only Jade moment that stays with me concretely is when she says "chet-tar" instead of "cheddar" for the purposes of rhyming. Although I quite like "the smell of money got my trigger finger acting funny" too, and her seductive drawl throughout "Big Head" is tops. Luckily for Jade the beats she fades into are usually pretty great so I'm prepared to stick with it and see if anything more memorable surfaces.
Timbaland produces all but two tracks on Girl Interrupted
, and his presence heavily permeates every moment here (even the dirty bass-funk of the oblig. Neptunes track "The Come Up" sounds more like Timbo than their usual fare). Unlike his own or Missy's albums though he refrains from giving Girl Interrupted
a consistent stylistic persona, and this flits from ethno-shimmer to grimey buzz to minimal intensity with an impatient bang-or-bust mentality. As a result the album is somewhat patchy, but it's also the most densely chromatic Timbaland album since maybe 100% Ginuwine
(although with little of that great album's occasionial epic feel).
There's also some moments of startling greatness, my favourite of which may be "Dead Wrong", which reminds me of "Poppin' Tags" off the new Jay-Z album in that it tries to join together as many divergent production impulses as possible - in this case juddering stutter-beats, low-slung Nate Dogg croon choruses, hyperactive rave riffs and shrilly dramatic Indian strings - as if to say, "yeah, I'm the definitive modern rap track!" It's also a great showcase for Ms. Jade's aforementioned sensitivity to rhythm, as she subtly switches her flow between fast and slow, placing each word with perfect precision even if it's hard to care about what she's actually saying.
Also great: the fluttering, pivoting funk of "Get Away", which stops and starts with almost self-parodic intensity and enormity (that plus the brilliantly weird R&B chorus almost make up for Jade's moments of exceptionally awful rhyming). I'd love to give this groove to Eve, as it captures that same sense of strutting, unconcerned superiority as her best tracks, and she could probably match it with the attitude that Jade lacks.
Actually, no, the best track simply has
to be the almost year-old advance single Feel The Girl
- has Timbaland ever come up with a groove as mindcrushingly compulsive as this dancehall-falling-down-the-stairs beat? Probably, but when it's playing I'm unlikely to listen to reason (also, those weird Timbaland seagulls screaming throughout the chorus!). And another fine display of pacing from Ms Jade.
I might write more on this album later.