If the title of this Juggaknots release sounds strikingly familiar, don’t bother to double takeâ€”it is indeed the same title of A Tribe Called Quest’s 1998 LP (with Deluxe tacked onâ€”perhaps for legal reasons?). Well, based on the title alone, they may have your attention (as they did mine). Now comes the task of keeping it.
Love is a tried and true theme of popular musicâ€”just give a listen to pop radio stations if you don’t believe me. But if you’re going to broach the subject, originality is usually the best way to go about it (either topically or musically), and for whatever reason, The Juggaknots figured rapping over just a couple originals and a few old beats was the best route for this EP. It wasn’t.
If the beat to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” never struck you as a bump and grind jam, you’re probably not alone, but Breezly Brewin and B-Slim decided that it was just that. In a sense, one could almost understand the conception of the ideaâ€”the beat does climb and fall into peaks and valleys of intensity. But that song belongs to Eminem, and regardless of how melodramatic his film-based motivational lyrics may or may not be, it’s simply not a love song.
Similarly, OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson”â€”already a love song of sortsâ€”is flipped into a lyrical comedy act highlighting celebrity make-ups and break-ups, with a few splices of Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” thrown in for good measure. Interesting enough to garner an honest listen, I suppose, but “Ms. Jackson” is an OutKast classic, and always will be. Even worse is recent addition to the group, female MC Heroine, rendition of Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing”â€”a song which left to be much desired at the time of its original release and hasn’t aged particularly well.
Not all is lost here though. A couple original cuts, most notably the DJ ELI-produced “She Loves Me Not (original dirty),” and chilled-out “Settle Down” offer a glimpse into what The Juggaknots once were and probably still can be. As Steve “Flash” Juon pointed out his review of Juggaknots’ Clear Blue Skies LP, The Juggaknots once laid claim to one of the most sought-after albums in recent memoryâ€”not only because the LP was that good, but also because it was that hard to find. Distribution from Third Earth helped solved that problem for many, but The Juggaknots have been relatively quiet since then.
Ultimately, this release is a rather curious oneâ€”and not in a “this will sink-in and I will eventually realize its genius” kind of way. The shame of it is that some nice rhymes are lost in the midst of bizarre beat-borrowing. Hopefully, The Juggaknots will return with a brand-new LP sometime soon, abandon the gimmicky theme ideas and stick to making the dope music they’re capable of. I really wanted to hail this as a brilliant homage to love and the songs that have been engrained in our memories as some of the best to tactfully (or not) touch our softer sides, but this one doesn’t do it. The Love Below will have to do for now.