I would imagine that when you walk a narrow path, it's narrow because not too many people have previously walked it or cleared the area. You might also find yourself occasionally stepping out on either side of such a narrow path. Well, if one side was jazz and samples and the other side was old school hip-hop then producer Josh One is one of the few artists that still walk this path the right way. His new album, you guessed it, "Narrow Path" attempts to pave the way for this new, or at least newly revamped jazzy, hip-hop sound.
The first track, "Risin" comes Aloe Blacc controlling the mic over live acoustic guitars, rolling basslines, and drums that demand attention. The laid-back, airy vibe almost sounds like a jam session on a cloud, with the MC providing the refreshing lyrics:
"I see what the people around the world don't see
We can't wait any longer to be free
Liberated in mind, body, and spirit
Time's physical limits
Got us locked in this perpetual pivot
Like a gear in a clock
It appears when on top"
The next track "Day Dreamer" uses much of the same techniques as the previous song. Josh One keeps us floating on with the progressive instrumental as vocalist Lil' De La Mora intertwines her rhythms throughout.
"Grey Skies" is a chilled out instrumental with some Middle Eastern influence. The combination of the wind instruments, a catchy bassline, and nice drums gives visions of cruisin' down the strip on a warm summer night.
The progressive title track, and perhaps the highlight track, starts off with a breeze of acoustic guitars that precede uplifting strings and rugged drums that surprisingly fit the relaxed vibe.
The music on this album is relatively similar throughout, yet rarely does it get repetitive. Perhaps the only complaint is the tiny LP is only 10 tracks long.
With artists such as Zion I, People Under the Stairs, Blackalicious, and Living Legends, it's clear that Cali hip-hop has spawned a musical movement centered in the more peaceful, spiritual outlook that the state had owned long before gangster rap. Josh One can now be placed in that list with the ambient, kaleidoscope of sound that composes his "Narrow Path."
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: January 25, 2005