Go ahead, try to argue against the fact that Jean Grae is the best female emcee in the game right now; you will not win. Whether it's lyrically or conceptually, Jean is head and shoulders above the competition. But with all the critical acclaim she has received over the years, the mainstream love has yet to accumulate. Looking to help change all of that is Jean's second full-length album, "This Week".
While Jean is certainly not selling out or watering down her style in order to appeal to the masses, "This Week" is a step in the right direction so she will not stay labeled as that angry underground female emcee forever. With more variety in her song making and beat selection, "This Week" is Jean's most venturous release to date, as she leaves behind a lot of the rage seen in her prior albums.
Acting as a conceptual album of sorts, "This Week" depicts the life of Jean for seven days, and the drama involved. While there really isn't a storyline, the album stays entertaining for the most part. The vintage Jean sound of "A-Alikes" provides another notch in her championship belt, as Ms. Grae lyrically assaults Sid Romes dark backdrop and playful keys as only she can. Brooklyn Academy's Will Tell provides more haunting theme music with his production on "Style Wars", as Jean once again proves that lyrically she cannot be fucked with. "Triple six soul, with a gold wiffle bat that I hold, and a sickle pole taped to my back. Fold, your hands not fucking with mine. It's just sucking your own dick, like un-tucking your spine".
While fans have come to love those sinister, take no prisoners type of tracks, Jean proves she is capable of much more on "This Week". "Not Like Me" finds Jean is her confident mack mode by showing all the guys in the club that no woman on earth can compete with Ms. Grae. While on the flip side, "Supa Luv" finds Jean giddy in love over 9th's soulful production. On the conceptual side of things, "P.S." unwinds the album perfectly, as Jean answers her email box, offering a couple nice short stories and introspective rhymes.
Even though "This Week" should help catapult Jean's career, the album is not without its faults. The main problem plaguing a couple of the tracks is the production. Midi Mafia's cut and past keyboard sound on "You Don't Want It" is all but unbearable and fails to blend with Jean's distinct style. The same can also be said for Joey Chavez's work on "Going Crazy", which is a dope dream influenced concept but drags on due to Joey's weak keyboard beat. In addition, 9th Wonder's predictable drum pattern makes the bonus cut, "Don't Rush Me", a little hard to sit through as well. While 9th has blazed the industry with his soulful production the past year, his drum patterns have unfortunately not progressed. "Don't Rush Me" is another one of 9th's repetitive beats that sound rushed and extremely formulaic.
While a couple of the beats on the album hold "This Week" from being Jean's strongest effort to date, the album is still a nice step in the right direction. With more people becoming aware of Jean's amazing talent every day, it's only a matter of time until the mainstream catches on. Until then, do yourself a favor, pick up Jean's entire catalogue, and jump on the bandwagon while you still can.