Miguelito only gasses at the Arco on Vanowen.
1TakeJay smiles in most pictures. Whether posing above an ATM or returning interceptions for El Camino College, the Compton rapper’s grin is inescapable across his social media. The smirk is most defined on the cover art for “To Da Neck,” his quotable flex mantra that went viral last summer with an accompanying challenge. In the photo, Jay’s seated on a toilet, spreading cash with a flourish and a Cheshire Cat-level smile—the implication being that dollars come in with regularity. There are boundless examples of money brick photos and Jay’s interpretation sticks out for its comedic absurdity. Like the photo, his music is both familiar and foreign. He’s indebted to shit-talking Californians like Suga Free and shares terminology with Los Angeles contemporaries Stinc Team and AzCult, yet 1TakeJay finds inventive ways of assigning himself every superlative.
The twenty-two year old rapper is part of OneTakeBoyz with identically prefixed Teezy and Quan. First becoming friends at Compton’s Centennial High School, the group first appeared on SoundCloud in 2014 with tracks bemoaning ‘wolf tickets’ and comparing themselves to the Hot Boys, the platonic form of degenerate rap groups. In February of 2015 the group dropped OneTakeMovement, an official introduction that established their kinetic braggadocio with tracks like “Solo” and the apocalyptic “Bout Whatever.”
Released earlier this month, Wait Hol’ Up is Jay’s first full-length project and shows him polishing that aesthetic, pushing shit-talking to laughable absurdity within the frame of familiar, specific expressions. His lexicon is reflexive like much of New L.A. rap, though not as coded as someone like Drakeo. You’ve heard a version of Jay’s expressions before, but here they’re tinted with his visceral wittiness and ability to turn the regular into the absurd.
On “Arco” he “jumps out the bed just to jump in your bitch DM,” landing somewhere between violating and inspiring. There’s been an underlying fear of DMs since Yo Gotti’s 2015 manifesto, but who else is setting morning alarms for infidelity requests? He’ll use hyperbole to sling insults too, bending a common phrase like “hip hip hooray” (“Dat Way”) to give a tongue-in-cheek reply to an ex (“Oh you poppin’ takin’ pics in the Mulsanne? / Well bitch I’m happy for you hip hip hoo-ray”).
Over the project’s forty-five minutes Jay identifies with recognizable icons from Max Payne to Liu Kang (“Dat Way”), describing a sexual encounter in church (“Nasty”), and a surprisingly equitable flex on “I Like Bitches” (“I need a bitch that’s gon’ drop off her taxes”).
These claims are rooted in familiar LA rap slang but still feel original and likable. There are sinister moments full of Glock 23 talk, but Jay largely prefers to highlight youthful escapades over situations that force him away from that innocence. He’s always smiling.
Wait Hol’ Up’s production is spread between the West Coast’s new school, featuring three additions to the nervous catalogue of Bruce24k (“Big Banc Uchies,” “Flu Flamming”), somber and meandering chords from Saltreze on “I Like Bitches,” and WestCoastAce’s bombastic “That Nigga.” Stylistically, Jay uses space well, squeezing bursting rounds of insults and flexes into high BPM instrumentals. The confidence of his delivery lets him bounce through end rhymes well-suited for his free associative boasting.
He’ll truncate syllables to adjust schemes, which makes potentially wordy sequences compelling when delivered. In the melody isolation halfway through “Arco,” Jay bends the ‘L’ in ‘rental’ so that it’s indistinguishable from the ‘W’ in the following line end ‘window’ (“maxin’ out the rental/ it’s tints on the window”). He sharpens the ‘L’ in the next four lines, “gold in my dental/ while my bitch pop Skittles/ ’98 Arco I gas instrumentals/ I’m the only stray dog that they let out the kennel,” smoothly demarcating the statements and making them effortlessly fun to repeat.
The back half of the tape is more relaxed, with Jay leaning into melodic deliveries and giving listeners a pause from the frenzied earlier tracks. His choruses on “Choose Up” and “Make Sense” are notably effective, particularly the former’s Atlanta-influenced vocal alterations. He’s indulged these elements before in his solo work (“Ion Fuck Around”) and collaborations (“Loaded”), but they’re sharper and more focused here. He’s comfortable blending melodic and aggressive styles to best fit whatever shit he needs to speak in that fleeting moment before the next insult.
Guests are frequent and varied on Wait Hol’ Up, with fellow Takers Quan and Teezy supplying energetic verses that highlight the group’s charisma. Featuring all three, “Show Me” has the deep swagger of previous dash buster “War Wit Me Freestyle,” mixing the raucous elements of their music (it’s a song about twerking) with towering, anxiety-inducing production. Kalan FrFr and AzChike make contributions, the former with an Autotune-drenched hook and verse (“I Know”) while the latter brings his viperish delivery to “Bleed ‘Em.”
The title Wait Hol’ Up comes from Jay’s catchphrase, “Wait hol’ up, I’m finna turn this bitch up.” It signals the start of verses across the album and serves as a distillation of the wildness to come. Jay’s music, as with the rest of OneTake’s catalogue, arrests listeners with its carefree spirit and begs you to emulate while assuring you that you can’t. Rapping isn’t his way to tell stories, moralize, or grasp at some sense of purpose. He raps to show you how hilarious debauchery can be. Saying he ‘raps’ might be off mark too. 1TakeJay just smiles and talks shit.