It’s always a good day when someone sends you music, asking for your honest thoughts. It helps me break the monotonous routine of listening to Phantogram and Kanye West all day. This time around, it was New York’s Jay Pluss and his new tape, “ASHIGARU,” a collaborative effort with producer Tenten, herading from Harare, Zimbabwe. Salutations to these two kings, or should I say, samurais?
“ASHIGARU” is a 12-track tape that I am glad I listened to. The cover art, illustrated by El Terrorifico Dr. Napalm, features a couple samurais with hesitant looks in their faces, as if they know they’re about to do it to em’, though are apprehensive at the thought. This apprehension could be comparable to that of Pluss and Tenten, who knew how hard they went on this project, respectively. Tenten lays down some super serious, soulful beats, which to be honest I wasn’t expecting based on the cover art. I was expecting to hear beats with more Japanese-influenced samples (hence the samurai, and even the name of the album), but was led astray. Once I got past that, I was delighted the rest of the way.
Jay Pluss really does his thing on this record, slashing any preconceived notions one might have when a guy tells you, “Yo bump my tape.” That wasn’t even present; “ASHIGARU” remains a swift strike to the chest, forever imprinted on my body and mind. GAM and S!LENCE are the only featured artists on the album; GAM takes two shots at the mic on ‘Funny Style’ and ‘My Vision Is Clear,’ as S!LENCE breaks his silence on ‘Sunset Summer.’ For myself, these features are well received. Neither of them feel out-of-place, and both artists complement the already establsihed theme of being “that nigga.”
If there was anything negative, or critical, to say about “ASHIGARU,” it’s along the lines of “I want more.” The longest tracks are those featuring GAM and S!LENCE, while Pluss’ solo attempts don’t even break two minutes. The three skits that he has, though they are well placed, feel like they could have been added to either end of the surrounding songs. Only ‘Skit #3,’ featuring the classic line from the 1973 film Enter The Dragon, feels like it can stand on its own. Even then, I have my doubts. But then I remember who has the creative control, and just sit back and enjoy.
Overall, “ASHIGARU” is well worth the seven bucks it is priced for on Bandcamp. It wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to give each of the artists responsible for this musical display a follow. If this tape is the jumping off point from which I will see whether they progress, my educated guess is that the two of them will be very successful in their own rights, and could be an unfathomable force should these two stand the test of the battlefield again.