The pairing of emcee Jalin Roze with producer Josh La Rock should have every hip-hop group in Louisville quaking in their headphones. Better than that, it should leave them inspired and hungry, as the bar has been raised. Louisville hip-hop does not have to be “local.”
Roze’s The Brilliance will end up in my favorites for 2011, local or national. Its production is a perfect reflection of Louisville’s not-quite-the-South-but-not-quite-the-Midwest status. We can pull influences from anywhere, and they still ring true. La Rock’s sound is sample-based, from The Bird & The Bee on highlight “Give It Up” to Maxwell’s crooning on “Ms. Perfect,” and despite nods to hip-hop’s “golden era,” The Brilliance is modern enough to not feel like a throwback. Roze shows great balance as a writer, tackling topics from mundane life to politics to love and family, with clever concepts, effortless wordplay and confidence. Note that last word, and not its cousin “swag”; this is for the grown, the upright. Closed eyes stay blind; open your ears and hear all that is good.