South London rapper Jords' latest project, Before We Begin, feels like an evening spent inside an intimate underground speakeasy. At only five tracks, it's the type of project that pulls you away from the present, immersing you in a world of rich instrumentals and clever wordplay. Jords storytelling, mixed with a laidback yet confident delivery, all but transports you to a hazy, smoke-filled club with red velvet seats and glasses half filled with dark whiskeys. Even when things begin to pick up tempo, the project never tries to be bigger than itself, placing the listener front and center for one of the best performances they'll hear all year.
From the opening track, "Before We Begin" to the closing moments on "Conversations," Before We Begin feels like a personal experience shared between the listener and the rapper. You can imagine Jords up on stage sitting casually on a stool, rapping to the crowd like it was a spoken word session. And when it comes to cleverness, he doesn't disappoint. Take the title track, "Before We Begin" for example. Early on in the track, Jords states, "23 and I know what I'll do forever. Either I'll do it different or I'll do it better" over a calming, flowing piano backed beat. You would almost expect statements like that to come at the chorus, with blaring synths or horns behind it, acting as a war cry. But for Jords, it's delivered calmly, as if he's seen the future and doesn't care if you think otherwise.
Even when Jords brings guests onto the record, things never feel overdone. Tracks like "Wishing For" ft Karmi" or "Conversations" ft Sue Lily & Marc TC, come across like small duets rather than overbearing group cuts thanks to muted productions that allow for the vocals to take center stage.
Overall, Before We Begin is an excellent EP that demonstrates the skill of this young rapper. While "Working Too Hard" feels a tiny bit out of place with the vocal manipulation, the remainder of the EP is stellar. The lyrics are raw, the songs are easy to listen to, and the productions feel warm and rich. Jords can not only weave together impressive bars but build an intimate atmosphere around his music that permeates every note.