Reviews

Review: Jesse James Solomon – Jesse From SE



Jesse James, sometimes rapping as Solomon, sometimes both, has been writing verses for some time – but it takes some considerable internet digging to follow the path backwards much more than this year. Previous tracks have come and gone from Soundcloud and YouTube, with only a handful of tracks – one with Vicktor Taiwò last year, another with EP guest Rejjie Snow, one more over a beat provided by King Krule’s Edgar the Beatmaker alias – remaining online. But all the songs all have something in common – a melancholic soul, to both the rap and Jesse’s choice of beats, that intensifies the distinctive London atmosphere, like there’s actually some light drizzle in the studio with him. It’s only a little ironic his delayed EP comes at the peak of summer.

Jesse From SE comes through an attachment with PMR records, home to another, slightly more commercial Jessie (Ware), and can boast some of the top taste-making acts in the UK. All the way back in February, Solomon tweeted about an upcoming EP, and from a few disgruntled YouTube comments it’s clear that delays to his output have been quite common over the years. But this is in the past – Jesse From SE is now downloadable and free to all those who seek new material since Jesse’s break-out of the underground with the beautifully shot Came In The Name Of video last year.

But all the songs all have something in common – a melancholic soul, to both the rap and Jesse’s choice of beats, that intensifies the distinctive London atmosphere, like there’s actually some light drizzle in the studio with him.

The EP crawls into existence with JFSE. The lighter flicks on, woozy beats arrive without warning – then Jesse’s deep yet delicate voice grabs the headphones and it all feels a lot closer; a bassline thicker than smoke, and Jesse’s own tumbling rhymes on life, death and his rise “I know the world’s my oyster but I’m just getting on the Tube” introduce you to a sound that could only be birthed south of the river.

The following track is the only one not produced by Kıran Kai – and in some respects sounds a little out of place. It throws the record out of the bedroom and onto the streets; Jesse’s mind’s moving at a different pace and so the warmth of his delivery lacks. That’s not to say that the lyrics are any less poignant – it just sounds unnatural to Jesse’s natural deliverance.

Once through to Tides it’s business as usual. Resuming the dark intensity, it holds all the way through to the close of Sleep Tight, at which point it’s too easy to go back to JFSE and play the whole thing through once more. Jesse From SE conjures cold trips on the night bus and ominous tower blocks as well as Burial’s LPs ever did – but it does it for a generation that can Instagram the whole experience. Jesse From SE is a beautiful addition to UK hip-hop and one that shows a scene and sound still rising up – here’s to the hope it continues.

Words: Rory Foster

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