The Jealous Guys: Men Of Our Times

Sean McTiernan was brainwashed by Jazz from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “Genesis” is the first track to drop from the Jealous Guy’s upcoming EP Audiobook and shows exactly why...
By    August 24, 2011

Sean McTiernan was brainwashed by Jazz from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

“Genesis” is the first track to drop from the Jealous Guy’s upcoming EP Audiobook and shows exactly why it’s worth suffering through the significant amount of brow-furrowing they include in every song.

Jealous Guys are serious men. They’ve likely purchased jackets with extra sleeves to prominently display their Cannibal Ox appreciation. They are also seriously talented. “Genesis’s” pastoral beat affords them the space needed to fully show off what sets them apart. The track is initially sparse, almost respectful to their solemn words before it morphs into something more kinetic and restless.

The video’s cool too. Similarly restrained, sun-kissed and serious, it also might  provide a bizarre hat-tip to Malcolm In The Middle’s opening credits. It’s cool to see the little glitches of anime dispersed throughout. A particular type of dreamy anime-soundtrack-style sound seems to be informing the airier corners of rap these days and it’s interesting to see anything, however slight, that appears to play into that.

Hopefully Audiobook will follow through on the promise of “Genesis” and garner Jealous Guys the recognition they deserve. It’s surprising said recognition hasn’t come earlier,  although the marriage of styles in “Genesis” is particularly potent, they’ve had great tracks before, not least of which was Brainwashed By London.

The lack of hype generated by “Brainwashed By London” seemed baffling at first. After all, it was produced by Clams Casino and houses one of his most weird, distinctive hooks (that looped, pained scream). One may have assumed that when this dropped, it would have been swept up in the the Clams Casino hype parade that was beginning to gather serious momentum. Incidentally, judging by a recent Eno shout-out and that unreal Asap Rocky/Main Attrakionz joint, said parade is still thankfully a long way from finishing up.

The instrumental was even included on Clams Casino’s Instrumental Mixtape, so a more direct path for hypebeasts from the Clams Casino tape to The Jealous Guys rapping over it couldn’t have been drawn. Not only that but for my (ever-dwindling) money, Brainwashed by London was actually one of the most interesting tracks on the Instrumental Mixtape, hitting the perfect balance between Clams’ willingness to experiment, his ardent slap fandom and the Akira soundtrack.

The video is mostly a cut above the “Okay, I’ve purchased a HD camera, now I shall just allow events to take their course” method that seems popular at the moment. It’s black and white and that car looks pretty nice. Also the scowling quotient is extremely high — always a good thing.

Holistically, the video actually provides a much more thorough, if more subtle, shout out to the kind of anime and, more generally, the particular type of Japanese music that the latest crop of dreamy, oceanic and oddly-delicate rap beats could very well owe a debt to. The particular type of car, the purposely-timeless streetwear, the night, the palm trees, the shadowy street corners and, honestly, the dudes bellowing incomprehensible shit that sounds cool, all seem like the kind of things that should be in an anime like City Hunter — really anything soundtracked by hazy synths and raindrop percussion.

My reticence about being definitive in their influences stems, not just from the weirder-than-usual responses guys in this scene tend to throw out when asked to cite influences, but also a reluctance to discount their sheer fearlessness about making songs solely from the weird shit they hear in their head. I would say it showing up in the “Genesis video” proves my point, but Messy Marv was in a video with JT The Bigga Figga and claims not to know who he is so stranger things have happened (oh and if you didn’t follow “bruh”-gate, catch up).

So although maybe it’s a little too on the nose, the video really captures the dark undercurrent of “Brainwashed By London” and is an excellent reflection of the song.  But actually, that may the problem. The Clams Casino track is so distinctive and the video fits it so perfectly that the Jealous Guys sort of fall into the background. I had to listen to the track 4 or 5 times before I remembered anything other than dude shouting “Preach!”(c’mon, man…) and them chanting over the hook. What’s the deal with chanting over the hook by the way? I know it’s a cool song title and all but that screaming hook is the crux of the song, it’s like renting an expensive and distinctive-looking car for your video and then sitting on the thing instead of in it. Ah…

It’s like a magic trick: you hear the song, you like the song but then all of rhymes immediately leave your mind. Jealous Guys do adapt well to whatever they’re rhyming over but, bizarrely, when it comes to “Brainwashed By London” they did their job a little too well. They faded too far into the landscape and became just another instrument.

As mentioned before, Jealous Guys clearly like Can Ox. But the strongest Cannibal Ox tracks posses this weird quality of sounding like the beats are coming out of the earth out of necessity, like some tortured reaction to what they’re saying. Genesis goes some distance towards redressing the balance. It’s a far stronger offering from both Aydine and Biz Y Casa and they control the track rather than letting it get the best of them. It’s an encouraging first look at their upcoming Zodiac-produced EP Audiobook, where hopefully he’ll supply them with even more excellently odd beats over which to …um…preach.

MP3: The Jealous Guys-“Genesis”
MP3: The Jealous Guys prod. by Clams Casino-“Brainwashed By London”

MP3: The Jealous Guys prod. by Lunice-“Bus Stop Jazz”

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