June, people. JUNE! And only now am I getting around to listening to Jeff Spec’s latest album. Although it does correlate well with the North American release of Sneakerboxx, which is totally intentional, of course. This is Jeff’s fifteenth release, dating all the way back to his self published and recorded albums back in the late 90′s and early 2000′s.
“Turn it UP!” is as close to a perfectly named opening tracks as there ever will be. Bass kicks in, then it all drops down as the vocals come in to a smooth sound. It’s an anthemic call out to the people of the world. The production of this track really sets the tone for the album. It’s all perfectly polished and full of great beats, a real live music feel, almost gospel in parts.
There are a few tracks that have really catchy choruses, thanks to the work from NaRai. The first being track three,” Stop”; it remenisces on the past while others are about the present and the future. You get the feeling that the album speaks about the journey to where he is today; its honest throughout, depressingly so in” Stranger”, again featuring NaRai.
It’s a world of television, you’re surrounded by stars / Life’s a gamble, even if you counting the cards / Whether or not I like the sound of the odds / Just the way it is / They don’t like the little guy, I’m just trying to make it big
It’s not all bleak, even when Jeff is at his most political – like in “80′s Baby” – he has your feet tapping and head nodding as his delivery is excellent. “My Story” is the newest single of the album and it’s one of the best. Perfectly fitting with the message of Lesson 6, talking about his emergence and persistence to get into hip-hop, and most importantly it’s from the heart. The references to previous tracks and the subject, sneakers, is used so well throughout.
It’s hard to name the best tracks of the album as they all work so well to make the it what it is. The middle section does lose the opening’s power but it has the fore-mentioned catchyness. “Microphone Bully”, featuring Shane Lee – and it’s brilliant opening skit – kicks the album back into this vibe and wholeheartedly throws itself into the gospel theme.
The bonus track is one of my favourites on the album. Why is it a bonus? It should be unashamedly in there at the start. Jeff Spec definitely shines on Sneakerboxx, a well produced album that flows from start to finish. Only wish I had got onto this when the sun was shining and I could wear my damned Sneakers.