Jam Baxter — Touching Scenes [ALBUM REVIEW]
It’s been a weird year for hip-hop so far. Many artists have no clue what they’re doing. They don’t understand the genre, culture or what constitutes an acceptable MC. It’s frustrating to sift through a load of contrived, talentless rubbish in order to find a singular gem. But once you find that gem, you can’t stop talking about it. This is essentially how I felt towards Jam Baxter when I came across him. A gem amongst dusty rubble.
As an artist, High Focus Records stalwart Jam Baxter is a rare breed in that he commands attention in every aspect of his craft. From the barrage of imagery, fueled by his cerebral approach to lyricism, to the layered flows he packs into his tunes, to the atmospheric choice of production that overwhelms you. He is consistent and welcoming to the average hip-hop enthusiast because of the sheer level of attention to detail in every passing moment of his music.
His latest offering “Touching Scenes”, his tenth project in as many years, is the clearest indication yet of who Jam Baxter is as an artist.
The album is the product of a progressive, innovative and mind-altering MC who urges you to actively consume the piece as a whole, without interruption, like you would when sitting in an empty cinema, following the most gripping of blockbuster thrillers.
But you get the feeling you’re not alone.
The sixteen-track spectacle accompanies you in its duration, opening with a conversational track in “Guillotine” where Jam Baxter relays this thought patterns within the environment he’s in. The encompassing beat takes you away from your stale four bedroom walls to the world Jam Baxter has created through his linguistic form.
The three singles lifted from the album “Saliva”, “Vulture” and “S.S.A” are contrasting in style but doesn’t leave any room for quality to be maneuvered. It’s an indication of the direction the UK hip-hop scene is taking. Sacrificing a traditional approach for more experimentation to avoid the music becoming stale.
The stand out tracks on the album are “Feeding Frenzy” and “Bodyslam”. The former stuns you through the vagarious beat that catches you by surprise half way through, convincing you to start a mosh-pit in your mind as Baxter ramps up the speed as the track progresses. The momentum he carries through on this track incidentally defines his career to date. The latter is a display of lyrical perfection as he drops one of the hardest verses I’ve heard in hip-hop history. A targeted rant aimed at society laced in perspectives, arrogance, humor and introspection. It’s fantastically impressive.
It also feels as though Baxter has refined his lyricism (if that was even possible). It’s more direct on Touching Scenes. It allows the listener to involve themselves with the bars more efficiently. He’s clearly mastered the poetic craft, adding a bit more to his repertoire with every project he involves himself with. Maybe that’s down to him being well-traveled. Experiences are an artist’s best weapon after all.
Jam Baxter rarely creates feature-heavy projects but a variety of artists aid him this time round.
Recording with veteran producer Chemo, known for creating the eerie soundscapes for Baxter’s “…so we ate them whole” and “Mansion 38”, allowed him to maintain the momentum he gathered from the aforementioned album while enlisting the services of GhostTown, Sumgii, Last Japan & Sam Zircon who all contributed to production that seamlessly fit into the trademark Jam Baxter brand of artistry.
On assisting vocals, Rag’n’Bone Man, Kate Tempest, OG Rootz (FKA Durrty Goodz), Stinkin Slumrok & Rhi make a statement in mending a fractured UK scene where there is a sense of a lack of cohesion and factions that don’t want to cross paths.
The challenge for a modern day MC isn’t to create a succinct project in a singular style but to show a range of themes and techniques within a project to be as inclusive as possible to a varied audience in order to achieve a universal, emotional impact.
This album is an example of effectuating a range of styles and themes in the most artistic way possible. It allows itself to move effortlessly between hip-hop, trap, grime and everything in between to make a statement to the scene, a warning that Jam Baxter is ever-present and everyone needs to step their game up immediately.
Tracks you must listen to: S.S.A, Bodyslam, Feeding Frenzy, Bout U, Husk II and Know by Now.
Rating — 9/10
You can cop the album here — https://highfocus.lnk.to/Touching_Scenes