“Emotions” From JLC (feat. Jay Bang)

There are some critics who would tell you that having the right beat is all it really takes to make a name for yourself on the mainstream side of hip-hop these days, but I’m not one of them. Just listening to a single like the hot new track “Emotions” from JLC proves that to create chills in the audience, you have to layer a mix together that features far more than a godly groove. This is 2021, and if there were ever a time to be a fan of hip-hop, it’s now – and the biggest reason why is indie artists like JLC, who gives us literally everything he’s got in “Emotions” both compositionally and musically, all in the name of giving us as organic a rap throw-down as is possible in modern times. 

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More important than the energy created by the tempo in this song is what JLC actually turns around and does with it; rather than sparking up a volley between himself and Jay Bang, who features here (brilliantly, I might add), he works against the grain and puts his verses a half-step ahead of where the percussion is at. This inspires an urgency for both the lyrics and the listeners trying to process them while never actually pulling the rug out from under us and making it impossible to break down the narrative in “Emotions.” Simply put, he’s replicating the very concept of stress and anxiety with the instrumentation in this piece, and using the feeling to further humanize his verses. 

For as limited a window as he has in this track, Jay Bang and his vocal part doesn’t feel like a minor feature in “Emotions” in the least – in my opinion, it’s as much a reason to get into this song as JLC’s performance is (which is definitely no small statement to make given how much the latter is putting in here). They’ve got an amazing chemistry that isn’t getting boxed into one corner of the mix over another, but instead spreading out to make it seem as though they’re both cutting something individual for us to understand both separately and simultaneously in this song. It’s complex and a rather complicated way of making smart hip-hop, but hey, it’s an attention-getter for sure. 

If you’re as hungry for fierce and fluid grooves as I am this March, JLC is the man you need to go see right now. “Emotions” is the latest addition to what is quickly becoming a very expansive catalogue of solo and collaborative releases, and while I don’t think it’s representing the peak look for its creator at all, it’s raising the bar for what I’m going to be expecting from JLC in the future without question. He’s a very capable songwriter and an excellent performer who isn’t shy about getting after it – even in situations that might normally call for a more relaxed attack – and it’s because of his skillset that I’m naming him one of the more important indie rappers you need to keep tabs on right now. 

Michael Rand 

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