This EP is the musical equivalent of a raw jalapeľo. "How could this tiny little thing possibly hurt me?" Several regretful moments later you realize it's not the size, just the content. With a running time of less than twenty minutes (I spend more time in the shower than that), it's easy to overlook the EP. But this little sucker packs a punch.
This is the debut of emcee Jimmy Jael and producer Kill You Me You who together form Brother Reade. Kill You Me You (sounds like an XFL name) crafts production that will leave you slack-jawed. I really can't say enough. Lots of producers utilize layering. Others even do it well. But Kill You Me You is on an entirely different level. His tracks are knee-deep, soupy goodness. When the reverberating thump (and I mean THUMP) and claps kick in on "Crushed by a Truck", we know he's the real deal. No two tracks sound the same (admittedly easier when you only have five songs to choose from) and more importantly, none sound forced. The problem with a lot of producers is not a lack of talent, but a tendency to do too much. Sure, strings sound nice. So do piano keys, sped-up samples, and 808 drums. But cramming them all into one track results in incoherent noise. Kill You Me You's sonic secret is using "space", pausing and switching up tempos mid-track to give the illusion of using more layers than he really is. This way, the track is beautifully complex yet maintains a consistent, smooth vibe throughout.
With such standout production, you hope that it's not ruined by lackluster rhyming. Jimmy Jael holds his own spitting intelligent bars, but his flow is almost too quick for the beats. There's no doubt the lyrical content is there, but he delivers it too fast to grasp everything. Still, after a few spins you'll be sure to catch a few gems, like this one from "Edenhurst":
"Cipher could've been a little nicer, but oh hell
Stumbled in your first verse, it didn't go so well
Worry about the bread you brought, it got so stale
People tell me man, "The flow is so dope, Jael"
"How the hell you don't get promoted and you wrote?"
Well... go tell it on a mountain
We keepin' it bouncin', spare-changin' like a fountain"
The obvious downside to "Illustrated" is it's scant playlist. I mean, if Beanie's "The B. Coming" were limited to it's top five tracks, it wouldn't just be a "very good" album anymore, it'd be damn near classic. Same for almost any other album, so it's hard to be completely objective here. But all I can say is Brother Reade comes hard on it's debut EP. A quick listen will have heads looking for more from Brother Reade.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: August 23, 2005