Jeff Spec Sneakerboxxx

For his newest album, Jeff Spec enlists the assistance of a number of producers and live musicians, led by production duo Max Zigursky and Jim Black, along with the rest of their group, the Star Captains. Together, the two produce three of the album's 11 tracks, one alongside Spec and Max does one more solo, each song utilizing a number of live musicians, with each producer also contributing keys and guitar, respectively, to their songs and others. Even the tracks without their contributions suit the mood, resulting in a chill, but funky, hip-hop album with a live band flow, plenty of solos, lots of soulful singing and long instrumental outros. It's an exciting opportunity, one that Jeff uses to rap about government greed, hard work, nostalgia and his mic skills. And songs like "Truck Shit," a hip-hop track for the "dudes with the sneakers, gritty with fitted, limited run T-shirts," and bonus number "On My Feet," a witty love song about kicks that incorporates the names of sneaker brands and clever shoe references, prove that Sneakerboxxx is more than just a clever play on the title of Big Boi's side of the Outkast double album; it's also Spec's proclamation of his feelings for the sporty footwear. Sure, it's not your typical backpacker hip-hop album, but more artists should step outside the boxxx like this. (Pushin)