Generally every emcee does underground bull shit but we must filter the great emcee eventually dropping ultramagnetic bars supremely. The music you just love continues to flood from the reservoir of Queens. While Medina from Brownsville to East New York may have the deepest range of MCs from Doom to Sean P and Jean Grae to GZA, Queens may have the most consistent depth of technically gifted MCs. With Hands On Ice, J-Love produces another classical NYC MC while Gee Dubs makes his most complete album to date.
Gee Dub’s technical prowess is almost a necessary requirement coming from the borough that has gone from legends Kool G Rap and Pharoahe Monch to Timeless Truth and Meyhem Lauren. Gee’s other albums [A.M. Shift (2012) & Preface To Disaster (2011)] establish a young career of powerful consistency that is being overlooked and under heard as others in this era (i.e. Reks, JMega, Starvin B). The surprise with Gee Dubs is that his techniques are in uniquely broad areas.
On the surface, Hands On Ice is an energetic beat work driving fluid bars for the rugged NYC walk procession. Every last one of J-Love’s drums snap on Gee’s introductions to his closings, his syllable structure is easily arranged on the snares, his vocal power is in a lower range of fluctuation making song after song reach a melodic fluidity. Still, the deeper listen gives off a strong range of subject matter that is founded on his principles in action (“Seen You In A While”), builds on his mic persona (“Holy Water”), the wrong woman (“Crumb Lust”), fallen soldiers in the gritty streets (“Day & Dollars”), blocks tales of the opposing, the straight battle bars with ghetto visuals (“Barbaric Dubs,” “All The Way”), the back and forth mic controlling (“Send You To Hell” w/J-Love as the counterpart), some of the Hip Hop bio (“How Does It Feel”) while he counters with the bio of the fake rapper (“Tom and Jerry”). The way albums are made developed in the 90’s prime where technical skills were prevalent. Where albums became a young ghetto brother’s (and sister’s) forum to take deep, developing ideas frustrated in silence to a boomed podium. Today, so many forums from social media to the industry have all multiplied in number and complacency while decreasing in truthfulness and sincerity. When Gee Dubs rhymes he breaks this bullshit trend, rhyming with a freedom due to his technical fluidity and his refusal to pander, and so must be compared to that golden era honorably.
All our genres of note take a cue from Jazz and deserve deeper listens. Listens for the bars, the beats and the jewels. “Tom and Jerry” isn’t merely calling rappers minajs lookin at the industry to be ass looked at calling out the lookin ass niggas hypocritically. It speaks to the mentality of the struggling MCs too (“Ain’t it bugged how this Art spreads faster than any drug/keeps men without money and jobs because of love”) and exposing industry packaging from the top to the bottom (“…a bunch of hashtag fagging/retweeting strangers trying to hit your bandwagon…buying back your album like your doing numbers/the oldest trick in the book has been uncovered…”). There is a summarizing cleverness to his points as on “Day & Dollars” (“The shit’s crazy how we always make the headlines/they read about it for two quarters and some past time…”) always matching his lines syllable for syllable (“Recharge the light, let a genius mind shine again/took time to the study, analyze, before I begin/tapping into self, question how I’m living/knowing your worth counts most in your decision…” – “Being Me”).
Beatwise, J-Love’s beat files continue to be mined to great results. His tracks are addictions produced by minimal music hooks (i.e. the simple long chime on “Send You To Hell,” the guitar plucks on “Crumb Lust,” the piano groove with punctuating horn on “Barbaric Dubs”) and the toughest breaks (i.e. the vinyl crunch on the drums on “Day & Dollars,” the deeply bottomed out bass drums on “Busy Day”). The majority of the album is in a driving mid tempo and J-Love’s work amplifies through an LP filled with ideas, subject matter and battle bars.
Hands On Ice is the immediately obvious album that proves Gee Dubs is on his way. With some more of J-Love’s legacy as a backdrop to being another of the Queens great emcees endlessly dropping ultramagnetic bars supremely.