Release Date: 11.05.02
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
by: terry sawyer
Timbaland has long established himself as the auteur producer, the man with the ability to take stray, zig zagging beats and make improbable hip hop masterpieces. As a consumer, a Timbaland-touched record comes with the guarantee of at least a few tracks will play like the Ten Commandments of rump shaking. So it was with great anticipation that I picked up Ms. Jade’s Girl Interrupted. Not that he always has most perfect ear for protégées, as anyone whose ever heard Magoo rap will readily attest to. In addition (as my grandma would say) bless his heart, he does display the sort of persona of someone who’d say “I’ll drop those beats as soon as you drop 'dem drawers.” Thankfully, this record is not a case of a keeping a promise to a knob-polishing climber.
Let me get my reservations out of the way first so that I can commence licking Ms. Jade (aka 23 year old, Chevon Young) in mile high compliments. The first half of Girl Interrupted sounds like a production ghost town. Although her vocals still have a bruisy stick and move power to them, the backdrops sound too quiet, cluttered with tinny drumbeats and starving for a dose of big, thunking bass. It’s unfortunate that Timberland would so thinly gird such a swaggering vocalist like Jade. The albums first single “Ching Ching”, despite the brilliantly side kicking Nelly Furtado, morphs quickly from catchy to “if they repeat the chorus one more fucking time. . . “ and sounds like an empty matchbox of a song.
Fortunately, the second half of the record more than compensates for a few flimsily built tracks at the beginning. On “Feel the Girl”, Miss Jade drops lyrics with Eve’s cocky bravado but with a deft delivery that sounds like a pair of quicksilver hands on drum skins. “Big Head” has Jade slinking in tight over vocals that sound coyly tongued on top of a driving martial beat. Her vocal delivery manages a combination of menace and velvet that, although evoking other emcees, is entirely hers. Timberland acts as the funk poppa Wizard of Oz, who drops in every now and then with a beat-laced rhetorical question or just to make the man behind the magic known. On the albums second half, the producer-prodigy chemistry is so dangerously cool it practically needs weapons inspectors.
Although she’s not the most political artist, she’s a razor sharp observer of the gap between what we say and what we do. There are several tracks on Girl Interrupted that skew the hypocrisies of our everyday shortfalls which is much more than your average Timbaland release tackles. On “Keep Ur Head Up” she swipes at men who refuse to take responsibility for their children saying: “trying to escape responsibility/be a man/if you won’t even take a blood test, nigga/you ain’t a man”. On “Different” she rattles off a bitch slapping indictment of everyday crimes against the greater good, including a few lines in which she off-handedly dubs men as “whores”. On these tracks her voice has a percussive slant that hits your body like an extra layer of beats. Of all the female emcees coming out the gate this year, Miss Jade is definitely the one to watch.
So far this album has flown inexcusably below the radar. Granted, it’s an uneven effort, but most debuts are. Once Jade gets her sea legs, she’s bound to leave her competitors in her ill flowing wake. Until then, turn it up and get in touch with your inner badass. 12-Feb-2003 7:10 PM