Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt
Few Oklahoma emcees have enjoyed the local spotlight that Jabee has. Thanks to his lyrical prowess and underdog mentality, the Oklahoma City emcee is quickly becoming appreciated by those outside the hip-hop scene as well as those inside it.
Jabee has, in turn, proven to be a worthy ambassador for the state and to its youth, one who has been chomping at the bit to stretch his legs beyond its borders. That turn comes with Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, released nationally through the Murs 316 imprint, owned by renowned LA emcee Murs. The underdog steps up to the plate, too, delivering a polished effort as adept at hip-hop touchstones as pushing the envelope in new directions.
Jubilant, R&B-tinged opener “EWBANH” plays by the book, but its successor, “Dreams,” rolls the dice a little more liberally with a classical piano riff pierced with timeless rap percussion. “G’s Era” and “Don’t Love Back” bear a similar sonic flavor, one that “Knock Knock” and the El-P-produced “Stephanie” crunch up into club friendly bangers. The latter is especially potent.
However, “Push” and “Uncle Curtis” might be the true highlights; they’re dark, smoky selections that twist the blues into modern times much in the way The Black Keys and Friends (Raekwon, RZA and more) did with recording project Blakroc.
The genre-defying “On My Way to Heaven” — built upon a folk song written by Horse Thief’s Cameron Neal — brings the album to a close on a brave note, one that feels all too appropriate for Jabee as he gets his long-deserved chance to play beyond Oklahoma, championing its sensibilities all the same.
Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt is available now on iTunes.
— Joshua Boydston