JEAN GRAE Jeanius (Blacksmith) Rating: NNN
As impressive as Jean Grae's fire-?spitting performances and 9th Wonder's sympathetic production are on Jeanius, it's ultimately heartbreaking to hear what might've been a career-?changing album for the chronically underachieving daughter of jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin, had it been released back in 2005 when she was signed to Talib Kweli's Blacksmith label.
Although her truth-telling rhymes and unique flow hit hard throughout, everything here sounds way out of date. You don't need to hear time-stamping references to the 2004 flick You Got Served and claims of being a "2004 hustler" to know this material was recorded prior to George W. Bush's second term and the advent of YouTube. In the fast-?evolving world of hip-?hop, where careers may not last longer than the promotional tour for a debut disc, such a lengthy delay is devastating. Hopefully she's ready to follow up Jeanius with something current.