J-Zone

To Love A Hooker

posted August 23, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 1 comments

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For someone with J-Zone's pedigree of left-field sampling and off the wall sound bites, a concept album was only a matter of time. Never being one to go with the grain, Zone brings something a little different to your eardrums with To Love a Hooker, the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't actually exist. While it will no doubt draw comparisons to other story telling concept albums like Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves, it has almost no guest stars and zero emceeing. In fact, from what I can tell, the lone guest shot goes to Sadat X, playing a character who buys a lap dance for our wayward anti-narrator.

 The always smooth, pimped out ambiance is the first thing that becomes apparent when listening to this album for the first time. This vibe is maintained throughout the entire album with no exceptions, so if that's not your sound you will hate this album, but if you enjoy this sort of thing it's an interesting and hilarious ride in a green and gold Cadillac wearing a velvet fedora. Styled as a movie soundtrack, the album is split up into 28 tracks, some being as short 22 seconds long. This is mostly a good thing though, as the tracks don't get a chance to grow stale and it keeps things moving at a nice pace.

In the end the only real drawback is that there are a few beats that sound too similar, which may make you reach for the skip button a couple times. This is nothing to get hung up on though as most of the album is extremely diverse. For instance joints like - my personal favorite - "Beach Yo Ass!" utilizes several chopped vocal samples which, while maintaining it's funky vibe, sounds completely different from the most of the album. No one will ever confuse the guitar driven percussion of the "To Love a Hooker (Theme)" with "Lapdance!," a song you listen to and just know those drums were played with the bouncing ass cheeks of some pole dancing stripper. Hell, even "The Players Club" parts 1 and 2 sound nothing alike.
As the credits roll, J-Zone breaks out the longest single track on the record. With a total of 3 beat changes, "Finale" is nothing short of grand. Starting off one part soul, one part funky-ass bass line, this joint suddenly departs into an exercise in head nodding drums before changing yet again into a silky segment complete with a jazzy little horn sample and the 300th funky bassline on this album. The song, and album, is brought to a close with the steady rhythm of booming drums and the bluesy howl of a very suitable vocal. The way this album has the ability to be so diverse, yet have such a cohesive feel is beyond me; on top of that, it demonstrates that even when not on the mic, Zone has the ability to come off funny, charismatic, and always dope.

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