Eating When Hungry, Sleeping When Tired: In Quarantine With the New Jay Worthy & Harry Fraud Project

Steven Louis spends his quarantine with the highly touted collaborative effort between the Vancouver-born rapper and the New York beatsmith.
By    May 14, 2020

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Steven Louis is sheltered in place.

If a summer G-funk tape drops but no one is allowed outside to hear it, did it ever drop? Does the pimpin respect a six-foot social distance? Heck, is the P an essential business, and can it withstand a Depression-era wave of unemployment?

These are not the questions we want to be asking, yet here we are. Compton’s Jay Worthy has spent the past half-decade breezing through sun-drenched, bass-boosted flips of Jeffrey Osborne, The Stylistics and The Jones Girls. His delivery and discography are both seeped in Los Angeles rap lure, as if you could possibly separate him from the shotgun seat of a 1970 Cutlass. His

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LNDN DRGS partnership with producer Sean House delivered two groovy full-lengths that mined a rich landscape of Motown, pop and jazz, all while aesthetically saluting the Death Row era. He’s a purist, either trying very hard or coming effortlessly, depending on your vantage point and willingness to indulge in nostalgia. Gs up, hoes down, no exceptions.

Equipped with such funky, opulent production, Jay Worthy has rarely had to raise his voice or change the tempo. He makes precise music to listen to when cruising around or drinking in the sun or dancing with beautiful people. New Jay Worthy music in quarantine feels disarming, if not a bit cruel. Even ice-cold “Big Game” Worthy sounds like he’s been going through it. He acknowledges dropping the ball on some personal shit (“I was trippin, I admit it”). He’s relocated from Los Angeles, and he picked a rather unfortunate time to move to New York City (“Politic on everything, shit ain’t nothing nice/had to move away, now I’m in NY/101st and Broadway, Upper West Side/so much shit goin on I had to clear my mind”). He’s still making 2020 G-funk with undeniable charisma and bop, but it seems even he admits that it all hits differently right now.

The always-excellent Harry Fraud does a lot to anchor this slight transition behind the boards. “Ms. Parker” is a more somber reflection than most of Worthy’s work, and “Hard Knock High” finds the Compton rapper uptown with his new friends, chasing shots in Harlem with ginseng and mumble-crooning a hook like prime French Montana. Fraud also laces Worthy with true comfort-zone material: thick bass lines, synths that bounce and fizzle, samples of arcane but insanely slappin Italian disco from 1982. And Worthy’s flow largely remains a contact high, leaned-out and moldable in a wash of neon lights. Yes, it feels weird listening to Eat When You’re Hungry, Sleep When You’re Tired while stuck inside the house and prohibited from seeing other people, but it’s still transportive and mood-lifting music. Worthy even gets top-notch contributions from ELCAMINO (“it was me and my mask before the virus”), Larry June, G Perico, BandGang Lonnie Bands and Guapdad4000, who slides onto “Ice Cold” to brag about scamming money from OnlyFans accounts. Incredible. The P will be just fine.

I can’t speak for anyone reading this, or any of the handsome and inspiring people writing at PoW, but my capacity for sitting with new music has expanded a lot during quarantine. I don’t get cues to, you know, change the sounds in my ears or around my head. I work remotely, and glaze over screens, and rearrange furniture, fall asleep and then wake up all in the same room. When your day’s rituals, activities and indulgences all mush into the act of staying the fuck inside, doesn’t all music become quarantine music?

I feel like I’ve been living with “Hold Something,” the project’s penultimate track, since it dropped last Friday. It’s Worthy’s moment to snap on New York drums, and he delivers, but Fraud’s sample of Eddie Drennon howling “doooo what you gotta doooo” has been lodged in my head all weekend. The hypnotic bassline curls with pitch-black smoothness, one long night in the lab that turns to two months and counting. I guess this is the purest of quarantine music: easy to loop, low stakes but still offering such a specific state of feeling. Read, smoke, idle, hibernate to this shit. Do what you gotta do.

 

It’s hard to maximally enjoy a new Jay Worthy release without the Pacific Ocean, East LA house parties, mildly-overcrowded barbecues, the specific sunburnt disconnect of reaching sunset after day-drinking. It’s weird to think of Jay Worthy’s future moves apart from the city of Los Angeles, but it’s also quite hubristic to predict anything at all right now. The Worthy-x-Fraud-type summer that we deserve probably won’t arrive, at least not on standard time, but the banality of not dying from an infectious disease sure does work when set to two pros executing fresh G-funk. Humbled expectations. Eat When You’re Hungry, Sleep When You’re Tired, stay inside and stay alive.

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