Review: JJ Doom’s Key to the Kuffs

JJ Doom

JJ Doom: Key to the Kuffs (Lex, 8/21/12)

“Banished”

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In February, producer/rapper Jneiro Jarel and masked wordsmith MF Doom announced a collaborative album under the name JJ Doom, teasing us with “Banished” as well as a string of contributors such as Blur/Gorillaz front-man Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, and Jarel’s old Willie Isz partner, Khujo Goodie. Now the wait is over, as Key to the Kuffs finally gets its release on Lex.

The album offers everything you’d expect: Doom’s intricate, hyper-literate rhymes on top of Jarel’s future-retro sound. And Doom, naturally, doesn’t hold back: On “GMO,” he seethes about his frustration with the food industry, as Gibbons’ ghostly vocals hover throughout. Meanwhile, on “Banished,” he declares, “enough’s enough,” rapping about a dog-eat-dog world with lightning-fast delivery.

Recorded in Doom’s hometown of London, tracks like “Guv’nor” and “Rhymin’ Slang” ooze with British cultural references. And though JJ remained stateside, his futuristic hip-hop production holds a kinship with many of England’s risk-taking electronic artists. (The high-profile cameos don’t hurt the UK vibe either.)

Ultimately, with the anticipation behind the record, it’s a credit to the talent behind it that it turned out to be just as good as it sounded on paper.