B.B.Jay on Jive

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Universal Concussion

Iím just another chocolate child
Trying to get down for my crown
Not like da rest motivation, money, sex, success
Uh! What a combo
Ratha have self respect
When da crowd go thatís that
No compromise Christ for nothing

—from 'Hiz Love'

Universal Concussion CDStrictly on hype, this album goes down as the most prominent Gospel-oriented hip-hop project to emerge yet, landing on the hot list of mainstream heavy weight, Jive Records.

B.B.Jay (aka Jarvis Edward Cooper) knocks out Universal Concussion after literally years of expectation, with heads' awareness (conscious or not) ranging from his 1998 independent single and video ("Pentecostal Poppa") to rap cameos on the latest from Hezekiah Walker and LFCC ("Let's Dance") and Mary Mary ("I Sings").

The album comes filled with light-hearted party phatness, positive poppy hip-hop vibes and humorous similes. Certainly, this stuff isn't aiming to be scripturally deep. But it will satisfy heads wanting fun, phat beats and rhymes from a brother secure in his Jesus-given salvation, and not afraid to tell it.

As far as style goes, B.B.Jay (also standing for 'Believer Blessed in Jesus') has a B.B.Jaydeep Biggie Smalls influence. That's not up for question, as patter, flow and approach stun the ear by taking more than a page from the late B.I.G.

But that's where the similarity ends. In a medium where lyrical content is perhaps even more important than beat and sound, B.B.Jay triumphs over his peers —Biggie included— with his consistent acknowledgement of 'from where his help comes'.

As freely as he claims to be 'blowin up' and 'da bomb' (and he does often —check tracks "Hot Ta Def", "I Told You So" and "Universal Concussion"), he's even quicker to acknowledge and honor Jesus Christ as the one who made him 'phat like dat'. It's the theme evident on nearly every track.

Some Successful Similes from Universal Concussion

"Iím on a mission
dissin' all those who tryin' to poop on me like pigeons levitical" —"Hot Ta' Def"

"We chill like ice cubes in Alaska, Holy Hustler fatso fat pastor blast ya. Bringing life and hope unlike you lyrical killers, Running your mouth with that okeedoke. You cats broke and bent trying to represent but you canít touch us. We holy hustlers" —"Okeedoke"

"Iím bringing the holy ruckus in the name of Jehovah, Iím rocking butterfly like Vivica Fox and Mary Poppins, Big Butta on a roll, whoís gonna stop him" —"Hot Ta' Def"
Surrounding that thread are hip-hop street stories of B.B.'s rise from the NY gutter, both literally and spiritually ("Po' No Mo'" and "Ain't What I Used To Be"), a tribute track to the ladies ("For The Ladies") and straight up Gospel messages: "One Way" and "Word Iz Bond" (with backing choir track rolling underneath the flows).

Production finesse and crisp assists in phatness mostly come from renowned Fat Boy aka Prince Markie Dee (Mark Morales) of Soul Convention 2000 and others from the Swing Central Station Entertainment clique, with B.B.Jay quarterbacking via the co-producer's chair.

Bucking the hip-hop trend to solicit reams of flow collaborators, B.B. opts to handle much of the mic work himself, with only the occasional nod to a guest. It's an approach that locks the 'big butta' artist into the listener's mind.

When the mic is shared however, it's done with good effect —mostly on the vocal segments of the R&P-influenced cuts. Notable is Tiffany Phinazee (formerly of R&B's all-female Assorted Phlavors). On "Hiz Love", her snaggy chorus vocals bring out a Debarge sample, turning the 'God's love' track into a memorable segment: —"all His love is waiting for you, His love is everlasting and, All His love is waiting for you".

B.B.JayThe strength of this project is in its totality. Sure, some artists may offer better metaphors, perhaps others can lay down phatter beats. But with this phat pastor's ability to string all the pieces together and butter them with fun, wholesome, enjoyable lyrics, it makes it hard not to enjoy.

Crucial to your enjoyment of this album will be your ability to refrain from going too deep. Jay doesn't. And with Jive targeting hip-hop heads far beyond the Gospel core on this one, it's wise to reflect on this paraphrased and wise statement you've maybe heard before: 'The waters must be shallow before they can become deep'.

Producers: Mark Morales, Swing Central Station Entertainment players, B.B. Jay
album release date: September 12, 2000
Jive Records

ó reviewed by Stan North ó

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