Hip-Hop artists like to adorn themselves with titles – da God, the Dude, the Damaja, the Drama King, the T’cha, the Visualiza, the Villain, the Ruler, the Rzarector, the Rubix Cuban, the Polorican, the Snowman, the Funkee Homosapien, the Notty-Headed Terror, the Bigga Figga. While he didn’t go about it as creatively as some of the aforementioned, Juicy the Emissary has chosen his title judiciously. After all, an emissary always travels with the purpose of delivering a message or a gift, or to advance a concern by proxy of someone who wishes to make contact. To deny an emissary the opportunity to present what he has to bring forth would in all cultures be considered extremely impolite. So on behalf of the RapReviews staff I would like to welcome Juicy to our humble abode and am eagerly anticipating the Emissary’s presentation.

Reaching us from the depths of MySpace and the outskirts of the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, the mix-CD Juicy has brought along is a testament to the often excellent music being made far off the roads that are marked on rap’s map to the stars. Based out of Denton, TX, the member of the Vortexas crew gathers 15 tracks, including one instrumental, on “The New World Renaissance Mixtape #1,” a production showcase that hosts a number of local MC’s (aside from members of Vortexas also Fab Deuce, Pudge, L.I.G.H.T. Crew, SunkenState, Scribe Cypher Collab), samples of the talent pool of the greater Dallas area (Lejend, Guillotine the Kasino Champ, Solomon Infinite Abdullah), and a handful of AZ and VA representatives thrown in for good measure. Collectively they prove that it doesn’t take a big budget to collaborate successfully. As one of them says on the border-crossing “TX2AZ,” “We all different, but we love hip-hop.”

The display of hometown unity and interregional connectivity is commendable, but this is more than amateur night at the bar up the block. It’s nothing less than a musical vision realized under the banner of hip-hop. Juicy’s work behind the board is not groundbreaking, but it is highly refined. There is a nocturnal aura surrounding his beats that seems to steer the rappers into a thoughtful direction. It is an underground project in an almost literal sense, sonically leading through dimly lit tunnels and entering spacious chambers guarded by pointy, mysteriously shimmering crystals. The trip will be familiar to hip-hop afficinados, the CD’s sound being vaguely reminiscent of ’90s Boot Camp Clik releases. Its roots may lie in traditional East Coast rap, as suggested by two throwback productions, “Doin’ Your Thing” and “Fortified Funk,” which appear to have time-traveled to us from the year 1993.

For the greater part, however, “The New World Renaissance” deserves the tag timeless because it isn’t attached to a specific place or period. Juicy creates pure, austere chamber music hip-hop where everything from funk to classical music has a place as long as it becomes part of the greater whole. All the while, each composition has a distinct profile. The piano-driven “No No No” (no relation to Dawn Penn) is both festive and solemn, fitting the charismatically lethargic, wordplay-ladden flow of Woodbridge, VA representative Rrice DaGoldenGRAIN like a glove. Solomon Infinite Abdullah’s vocal charisma is intensified by Juicy’s triumphant beat for “Armageddon,” a slowly blossoming composition that retains its stringent structure despite the multitude of instruments used.

Particularly of note is Juicy’s ability to create tracks that are on the move. “Getting to the Other Side Part 1,” the instrumental, alludes to the music’s itinerant spirit with its title, and indeed the track turns out to be a journey across moonlit soundscapes driven by steadily advancing percussion. Adding to the effect is the smooth mix melding the tracks, which alone puts “Mixtape #1” a notch above most so-called mixtapes on the market. “TX2AZ” and “Keep it Moovin’,” while having more of a hip-hop thump to them, exemplify the restlessness just as well. Touching upon philosophy and physics, “The Great Pilgrimage” featuring Vortexas sees Juicy in the role of your captain speaking:

“We on a ride worldwide, slip and slidin’ through your galaxy
on magic carpets, scientists defyin’ gravity
On nomadic starships navigators embark
It’s the great pilgrimage, got your village aboard the ark
Forward march toward the light, left-right, move your feet to this
Let the speakers expedite into a deep abyss”

On the same track someone suggests, “Spin a few of them beats by Juicy / and watch the beat extend across the globe and galaxy.” There’s no denying that the Emissary’s productions have a certain universal appeal. They have the potential to go far, if outside of commercial channels. A hip-hop hitmaker he is not. In fact when he opens his mouth, the self-described “white wordy southerner” who’s “serving a heaping helping of harmony grits and vegan on the side” gives off a somewhat detatched vibe. But as a producer he can easily flip the script and service more mundane MC’s, as evidenced by the snapping “Turn That Shit Up!” featuring L.I.G.H.T. Crew. Skilled producers are just as rare as ones with a broad repertory. Yet Juicy the Emissary might just be the rare beatmaker to combine craftmanship with creativity. “The New World Renaissance” is not the release to get him noticed on a national level by any stretch of the imagination, but at least the mediator that is this website is taking notice. Maybe in time others will follow and receive this Emissary.

Juicy the Emissary :: The New World Renaissance Mixtape #1
7.5Overall Score