I have been waiting. 'Wake Up' is the new release from J2K and, in the current climate, an EP with ten tracks seems like a bold move. With little room for error, and on top of my own expectations, he delivers.
'Wake Up' is very consistent - consistently good. J2K limbers up for a quick statement of intent on the opening Wake Up, racing along with a slick flow that's pretty faultless throughout, swirling in and out of productions from the likes of Target, Bless Beats and Mega Mos Wanted.
On the whole the sound is quite up-beat, the jaunty brass of Big Brother, the perky droning of Talk of the Town and the chirpy Lights, Camera, Action giving the MC time and space to deliver his rhymes.
But this is the main problem. The production does give 'Wake Up' a unity of sound, but J2K is so consistent in lacing the laid-back beats that things do become slightly samey. I would love to see him vocal a few more hype beats, because he can murder them.
J2K - Barring on Snapshot 2
Barring on Ugly
The highlights are Wake Up and Kick Off Da Hinges, two of the more intense beats. Xtra is also one of the best here, as is Danger, the lead-single for the EP. J2K's flow, the vocals and, by grime standards, novel angle on the subject-matter makes the tune uniquely his own.
J2K - Danger Video
We Do is the main exception in the 'Wake Up' sound. A sombre beat with mournful vocals, J2K's lyrics are sincere and evocative, with Tex contributing to a CD which generally has good features - the underrated Manga has his flourish on Landlords, Bless Beats on Kick off da Hinges and Flow Dan, well, on everything he manages to get on.
Flow Dan's great.
And so is 'Wake Up' really, a release in which the only real weakness - its own consistency, solidity, self-assurance - sometimes holds it back from a bit more hype and few more moments of high-flown inspiration.
The 'Wake Up' EP is now available from bare places, but here's just some:
Avalanche Music Hut