Jel Soft Money

For his newest Anticon album, Themselves producer Jel has put together a mostly instrumental album of hip-hop that flirts with down-tempo, drum & bass, and trip hop. His instrumental tracks are often mellow, slow grooves with plenty of atmospheric sounds. The best of these is "All Day Breakfast,” a desolate, sad track that manages to undergo a lot of change-ups and added instrumentation as it flip-flops from down-tempo to up-tempo and back again, and "Know You Don’t,” a smoked-out instrumental that undergoes even more changes as the track progresses. However, it’s the few vocal tracks that end up being the highlights of the album. Album opener "To Buy a Car” is a tongue-in-cheek, electro hip-hop track with Jel dropping a one verse warning regarding product endorsements in the producer’s simple rap style first introduced on Themselves’ The No Music, and another capitalist condemnation on "Soft Money, Dry Bones.” The only other rap appearance is handled by Wise Intelligent (of Poor Righteous Teachers) who accuses Bush and his war machine of using "weapons of mass distraction” on the ignorant masses for the banging first single, "WMD.” The single is backed by "All Around,” a chilled trip-hop track accompanied by the silky smooth vocals of Ms. John Soda’s Stefanie Bohn. While a nice merging of different elements of electronic and urban music, Soft Money could have done with more vocal appearances. (Anticon)