King Jus & Fresh Kils Work Hard

King Jus & Fresh Kils Work Hard
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Toronto rap vet King Jus, who released his first album in 1999, teams with producer/MPC button masher Fresh Kils for this superb six-song EP. Jus' lyrics are dominated by braggadocio battle raps and honest hip-hop sentiment, but they're done with intelligence, positivity and a hard working ethic. His voice demands attention and his delivery is confident, and he sounds natural and comfortable on Fresh Kils' beats.

Kils keeps it mostly smooth with his throwback boom bap, although second single "So What'z It All About?" (spoiler: it's all about hip hop) has hard, chunky production with banging rock drums, fuzzy guitars and low-end synth, while the title track is a groovy dance tune with funky bass and keys. Both give Jus the chance to wild out a bit.

Otherwise, the music is more like the haunting instrumental of opening track "Cold World," a simple drum and guitar loop given weight by the addition of piano and a densely layered hook that also adds harmonica, cuts and sampled male and female vocals. The dreamy "Speak EZ" features a repeating synth note that adds edge to the understated drums, airy keys and horns of the posse cut, while the uptempo "Tru Believer" finds Kolor Brown's soulful vocals on the hook meeting Kils' warped sampling. Work Hard is short and sweet, making the choice to put it on repeat an easy one. (Rhed Zhone Rekkordz)