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“Jazz Men” by Shaheed and DJ Supreme

Hook-driven hip-hop is often the most revealing style an artist can adopt when showcasing their flow, and this is the case in the simple yet fetching cut “Jazz Men” by Shaheed and DJ Supreme featuring none other than Eric Essix on guitar. With no oversized synth parts in the track, there’s nothing but melodic complexity for us to study, leaving the poetic stylization of the music as our key means of determining its value. To me, not only have Shaheed and DJ Supreme grown up considerably in the last few years, but they sound a bit more menacing to the competition – almost all of which have resorted to abusing synthesized harmonies on every occasion they’re granted. “Jazz Men” is a terrific piece of material from top to bottom, and that’s obvious in even a cursory listening session.

The arrangement of the track doesn’t impose too much indulgence on the greater hook itself here, but I think it’s worth noting that this minor adjustment compared to the mainstream doesn’t do anything to discredit the feel of the flow. As far as vocal fluidity goes, there’s an argument to be made that this act’s peers could learn a lot from the unfanciful style with which Shaheed and DJ Supreme produce all of their music, specifically as it relates to keeping the organic rapping at the forefront of any given mix. Whether in an experimental or a traditional setting, theirs is a commitment to the craft that I wish I could hear more of, especially in the realm of mainstream music as it extends beyond the independent underground.

As far as the main mix of “Jazz Men” goes, it’s a chillingly sleek piece any way you dice it. The instrumental accent takes the cold vibe of the lyric and spikes the energy through the roof via an understated bassline that could have stood on its own as a piece of superb lofi. One of the most compelling elements of this version is the way it presents dual emotions through the groove and the dispatch of the verses, with the latter feeling so much more intense than the former, with both complementing the overall tone of the composition. Shaheed and DJ Supreme don’t like doing things the easy way, and as a result of their technique we’re getting a much more immersive experience out of singles like “Jazz Men.”

At this point, I think anyone who has been keeping up with Shaheed and DJ Supreme knows that the future could hold anything for their music, and they aren’t at all shy about embracing whatever strange notion might come to the table next. This latest release doesn’t lean on any of the frills that other rappers would need to sustain such a credibly experimental reputation in and outside of their scene but instead presses the importance of never going down the same road twice, which is a feat with which Shaheed and DJ Supreme have made a lot of their best music. “Jazz Men” is another win for their fans and their discography, and I doubt the last time they’ll celebrate success as a duo.

Mindy McCall



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