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Topaz Jones - Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma Music Album Reviews

Topaz Jones - Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma Music Album Reviews
The Montclair, NJ-based rapper follows his breakout debut with an expansive, funk-embroidered recollection of his childhood, complete with an accompanying 35-minute film. 

On his 2016 debut, Arcade, Topaz Jones offered a bright-if-brief introduction to his quick-witted personality. His biggest hit was the pop-rap single “Tropicana,” whose lopsided hook showcased his slippery songwriting and love of funk. Despite that, Jones bristled at the track’s success (“I was petrified of being labeled as the ‘Tropicana’ guy,” he explained). In the five years afterward, the artist dug deep into his roots in Montclair, New Jersey, and drafted a screenplay for an audiovisual project about his upbringing there. On the expansive result, Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma, Jones builds on his reflective, funk-embroidered hip-hop to chronicle his formative years with confidence and hard-hitting storytelling.

In the album’s accompanying 35-minute film, co-directed by Jones and creative team rubberband., he crafts a semiotics lesson in Black cultural history, spliced together with dreamlike staged sequences, clips from home movies, and interviews with family members, teachers, activists, and artists including Black Thought and Ivy Sole. The short, which won a Sundance Jury Award earlier this year, updates the Black ABCs, an educational program started in the 1970s by Chicago teachers and the Society for Visual Education to educate Black youth through illustrated flash cards. Jones’s version—“C” is for code-switching, “I” is for intellectual property, and so on—is a concise framing device for his coming-of-age tales and musings on education, family, and music, aided by beautifully filmed depictions of Black identity and culture from all along the East Coast to flesh out the album’s more introspective themes.

The album itself evokes Jones’s youth through spoken-word segments from family members and lively, well-defined details in sound and lyrics. During a family gathering that takes place in “Herringbone,” reminiscences of cookouts past are lit up by rhythmic bass guitar, synths, and pattering drums. The soulful instrumentation avoids pastiche even as Jones mines influences like Sly and the Family Stone and Funkadelic, with his voice pitched up on the chorus and a gimlet-eyed ending to his reverie: “You know we just imitate what the parents show/The bad habits, the trust issues, the marriage woes/We inherit those.”

That brooding, introspective side gives the album tension even in its brighter moments. Jones goes back to high school on the sunny “D.I.A.L.,” landing on different pockets of rhythm against horns, a shuffling beat, and washes of electric guitar. While recounting his hard-nosed adolescence missing class and getting into fights, a moment of clarity arrives. “I’m cycling through memories/Hindsight is 20/20 clean,” he admits. “Now you got me backpedaling/Psychiatrist not helping me/Your childhood not so heavenly.” It’s the kind of brisk analysis that typifies the album, open-hearted even as he tackles self-doubt.

Jones’s stories are amplified by the warm, easygoing backdrops. The relaxed pace lets Jones zoom in and out of conflicts, whether calling out overbearing performances of masculinity and the way he’s conformed to them himself on “D.I.A.L.” and the lustful “Black Tame,” or later leaning into a free-wheeling, surreal self-portrait on the standout, freestyle-like “Buggin’.” Over a scuffed beat, Jones raps with veering flow switch-ups about seeing a spider on the wall and imagining a day in its life, all to land on a universal truth no matter who or what you are: “If you not light on your feet, you might get crushed next.”

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma only errs when Jones runs into the occasionally clunky punchline (“Counting every second like they sang for Rent,” “Everybody want the plug, I’d rather be the adapter”). Still, Jones is clearly operating at a more thoughtful and focused level here than on Arcade. “I think I’m finally finding me/My whole life it’s been hide and seek,” he confesses on the cinematic “Mirror.” All across this album, Jones makes that self-discovery evident with light-footed ease.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Topaz Jones - Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma Music Album Reviews Topaz Jones - Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, May 07, 2021 Rating: 5

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