It was three or four in the morning when I peeped out Latrell James' new record, Twelve. I was half-asleep in my Batman bathrobe and itching for some caffeine.
Then I clicked "play." Nephew, let's just say I woke up FAST.
James, an emcee and producer from Boston, put a ridiculous amount of work into this project and it shows with each polished concept and intricate rhyme. In fact, conceptually, Twelve contains twelve tracks representing twelve years of maturation as an artist and human being; twelve stories of family, sacrifice and struggle woven into a masterful tapestry.
While this album is essentially a chronological coming-of-age tale, James' skills on the mic are fully developed from the get-go. 'Trell truly has the entire package: an effortless flow, sick wordplay, storytelling, smooth harmonies, and some illy hooks. Not to mention, his content is always relatable – whether he's coping with his insecure old lady ("Bi-Polar"), cruising in his bummy whip ("99 Altima"), or flexing his independence ("On My Own"). The latter is one of the project's singles and definitely a standout with lines like:
The most clothes-minded of people be the ones to strip you naked
The aforesaid quote also underscores James' perseverance and self-confidence in the face of scrutiny, a prominent theme throughout the album. Many of the songs mention the criticism he's faced during the course of his musical journey, a path he chose instead of the "safe" college route. Clearly, though, he is not affected one bit by these naysayers and certainly uses them for motivation on Twelve.
The project's second single, "The Button," showcases James' impeccable storytelling ability as his vintage, Reasonable Doubt-esque steelo shines over a reworked version of Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents." Other bangers include the chilled-out, "Flying Nimbus," and "Candles," the proverbial icing on the cake and perfect end to a seamlessly executed concept album.
I am already eagerly awaiting Latrell James' next release and you will, too, after experiencing Twelve. Be on the lookout for his next drop on EARMILK!
- May 12, 2015