Babe, wake up! TenTen just dropped their latest project with JazzZ, Absinthe. The album weaves Jazz into R&B, and back, in such a masterful way that listeners ought not recognize the difference from one track to the next. Absinthe, 14-tracks which lean toward the shorter end, is all the proof needed that albums don’t need a feature on every song, just well-placed features on a few. Jay Pluss, Nappy Nina, Wavy Bagels, and Lungs appear in that order, spaced out enough so that each of their takes feel sweet as their bars dance in our minds. Overall, Absinthe is such a pleasure to receive audibly, each track feeling like it’s own pocket – it’s own iteration – of a late September night in New York; from the calmness of the city streets, to the beating of one’s own heart in the recesses of darkness.
With only one co-production credit (on “Rave”, also credited to Metic and Tropico Beats), Absinthe is the latest entry into the well-versed catalog of TenTen. In 2021, he gave us his boom-bap Hip-Hop offering with Ashigaru: Dungeons of Rap. Earlier this year, he built upon that trend, with the help of Shane, the Shaman, on their joint EP, Lifestyles Of The Young, Black, and Gifted. With Absinthe, TenTen sticks to the element of Jazz that permeates throughout his discography, teetering on the border of R&B, and, occasionally, dancing back and forth across this imaginary marker.
It’s not only TenTen’s skill at switching up the instruments to create a different sound. While he creates the beats and gives us a rhythm, JazzZ’s raspy yet melodic vocals serve as the best possible conduit for the Blues she is serving up. To be honest, she adds something to his production that just seems to fit. The instrumentals alone are cool, casual, and definitely set up that “Jazz bar on a late Thursday night” sort of vibe, but JazzZ is the lead actress of this motion picture.
Let’s use “How Can I (I MIss You)” as an example. A beat consisting seemingly of a few instruments (piano, cymbals, and bass guitar), and a bit of spacing, is the perfect canvas for JazzZ and Wavy Bagels to create their story. (This is not to say that this beat in particular is “simple”, or that others on the album are “complex”; simply, it fits.) JazzZ starts off with, “How many times will I love you, yet you don’t seem satisfied?”, a feeling that a lot of people will align with. It’s not until she layers herself over the funk of the instruments, that the R&B qualities of the song start to appear, not just in sound, but lyrics and emotion as well. The next track, “These Days R,” shifts back into the Jazz scene, with a piano that is making sure to be outspoken this time around.
There’s so much to appreciate about this album, but you can’t do that until you have listened to it. Don’t be the guy running to catch a train, completely missing the opportunity to listen to and experience true artistry. Let JazzZ sing the song of your soul, while TenTen creates the ambiance around which this nexus of space, time, and sound exists.