Just Jack/Jamie T
Mercury / Virgin
efore he just lost it, Eminem jumped up to the rostrum, his bum on your lips, and predicted that the sales success of his second album would usher in a 1,000 year Reich of white rappers who walked, talked, and dressed just like him. And then we got Bubba Sparxxx and Northern State. It would be safe to say that the game wasn't shook.
Where the boy Mathers failed, however, Mike Skinner succeeded. That’s because, today, there is no social faux pas worse for a British record label right now than to not have its very own Streets clone on the roster. Guys like (Just Jack/Jamie T) are part of a stockpile of musicians who take take Original Pirate Material, A Grand Don't Come for Free, and the other album everyone's already forgotten about as their manual. They do the brief history of urban music filtered through a whiteboy bedroom (producer/singer-songwriter) aesthetic thing. They dress like they're out for a night in Yates Wine Bar. And they enunciate random syllables in the middle of lines for no obvious reason. Yep, (Jack/Jamie) learned from the forgotten master well.
Jack and Jamie don't sound completely identical, but they're clearly coming from a very similar place. Indeed, any differences between them comes down to the fact that unlike his peer, (Just Jack/Jamie T) is a (‘70s/’80s) baby. Remember that (Just Jack has been recording to no avail for over five years now/this is Jamie T's debut album); it explains why he has more of a (‘90s/’00s) sound than his rival. More than anything, he makes his bed in the world of (late ‘90s post trip-hop/open mic nights at vougish London pubs), which goes a long way to explaining why he sounds (like forgotten turn of the decade Bristol act Day One/like he's trying to shout his oh-so-interesting point of view across a crowd) most of the time.
The little things are annoying, of course, like the “that'll do” pointless pop culture punnery namedrops that litter (“Starz in Their Eyes”/”Alicia Quays”), or the way they take up so much time with vocal samples from (old documentaries/self-help tapes) in the same way that a struggling student quotes increasingly large and irrelevant passages of text in a desperate attempt to meet a word count.
The actual content of the songs is obvious. There's Kaiser Chiefs-style indignation at drunken youths not following the (Just Jack/Jamie T) endorsed route out of (North/South) London as he (half-croons/caterwauls) about (“The Dog and Dock karaoke machine and Saturday night's drunken dreams”/“dancing with the average Joes who talk with their fists and fight with their friends”). There’s a weird sense of reactionary smugness in all of this, as if the only way to moral justification in the eyes of this guy is to (piss about with a desktop production package/slap an acoustic guitar about while yelping).
If he just stopped (trying to find words that rhyme with “plimsolls”/describing himself without irony as a “regulator”), maybe it wouldn’t be as painful to listen to, but then if he did, who'd call him “the urban youth street ghetto poet wordsmith, etc. for 2007”? Answer: nobody. And, anyway, as unpleasant as all of this undoubtedly is, at least it's not as bad as (the Jamie T album/anything Plan B has ever recorded ever).
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2007-04-10