Title IX, Susan B. Anthony, the ability to bear children, and now Jean Grae and her second full-length “This Week” – if America isn’t careful, the men of the country might be the ones complaining about equality and gender rights soon.
From turning into every hip-hopper’s fantasy girl on “Not Like Me” (who doesn’t want to sit and politic about “Illmatic” and “Reasonable Doubt” with their girl from time to time) to her head-nodding and paranoid first single, “Going Crazy,” Jean Grae is lyrically and commandingly unlike any other female emcee in hip-hop right now (an MC Lyte-meets-Talib Kweli type offspring, if you will).
“If she rocks like a spitter, and she flows like a spitter, then you know she’s a spitter (and she probably is),” Jean exclaims on the righteous initial track, “A-Alikes,” where she spits with a unique hunger and aggression that you won’t find on the average Miss Femcee’s tracklisting. “Watch Me” only adds to the delectable entrée that Miss Grae serves up routinely, with the superhero-named Grae viciously bragging, “I’m marvelous, thanks for askin’, so smashin’, About to get talked about like the “Passion’s” coming attractions.”
Bottom line, Jean Grae is not only brave enough to exist in a war of words with her female counterparts of hip-hop; she’s tomboy enough to step up to the plate with the big boys of hip-hop with a just as, if not more, explosive delivery scheme that amply shows off her mastery of the craft.
But don’t expect that to stop her from creating powerful odes of love, as she is prone to do over the disgustingly soulful 9th Wonder production, “Supa Luv” (think Mos Def doing “Ms. Fat Booty” injected with estrogen). Just as moving is her equally-as-soulful and dreamy “Give It Up,” a poetically boosted anthem to the object of Jean’s affection that just oozes out raw emotions of love and lust.
Still, Jean is at her absolute best on another 9th Wonder contribution, the self-examining “Don’t Rush Me,” where she stubbornly laments, “There’s nothing like knowing yourself, Like the way I know the smoking’s kind of broken my health, Like the way I know my flow don’t make appropriate wealth, I can’t change that, But funny I’m sayin’ that, when it’s money that I’m aimed at.”
Ironically, “This Week” will surprise those expecting the same Jean Grae from her past “Attack of the Attacking Things” and “Bootleg of the Bootleg EP” days. Instead, Grae delivers a delicious offering of still-there hunger and matches it with an equally appeasing knack for living up to the hype and buzz that she has generated.
She’s also no longer the hip-hop backpacker’s dream that she was once perceived as, as she describes on “Fyre Blazer,” rapping, “Y’all think that I don’t endorse it, That I want to stay broke, drinkin’ water out the faucet? Nope, that’s where you’re wrong, I just planned it different, Yeah, I’m gifted so all the ups and antes shifted.” Respect is nice, but Jean wants to get paid and cash in on her hype for once.
Title IX? Susan B. Anthony? Childbearing? Psssh, please. Leave it up the Miss Jean Grae to snatch back women’s’ rights with the flick of a microphone and the tenacity and knowledge of a veteran twice her age. Now, if only some of her male counterparts could understand the same drive. Maybe “next week.”