92 Renault Music, the amazing new album by PJ Katz, does what all great producer driven hip hop albums/compilations should do; it takes the work of a particularly talented producer, couples it with a mish mash of different MCs from different genres, styles and areas, throws in a dash of strictly instrumental gems, and somehow makes it all cohesive.
Think Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor or Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, while maybe not from the same place stylistically as the latter, PJ does share the same trait of taking a collection of varied artists, working them into his vision and style and ultimately being the shining focal point of the album.
The interesting thing about PJ is that prior to 92 Renault Music, I knew of him as an amazing Jazz/Fusion artist and after 92 Renault Music I can see him as nothing less than one of the more exciting new producers on the scene. He has managed to dive into a well established style and sound and make it vibrant, exciting and new. PJ Katz the producer is a traditionalist. His music dabbles in samples, but it is the layers that he can add, the understanding of composition and maximizing of frequencies that allows his music to standout amongst his peers.
He never allows himself to be pigeonholed into one particular style. Is it kind of throwbacky? Sure, but it is so all over the place, yet cohesive. It really does smell of an era when rap music was rap music, regional styles and sounds were more flavors of the same thing than they were movements. Whether it is the 90s NYC flavor of Glorious that would have sounded like a cozy sweater on OC or AZ, or Moment In Time which would have been perfect with the likes of Yeshua and Siah, or Warbux and its Death Certificate-esque swing, That Road which would have perfectly fit in on one of the early Soundbombin Compilations, or Real City which could very easily come from the Oakland underground of the early 90s or right out of Project Blowed.
PJ is a student, he doesn’t lock into one particular sound he understand the nuance of the art and how to bring it all together in an album that is equal parts exciting, original, familiar and overall, and probably most importantly thoroughly enjoyable.
And we haven’t even talked about the MCs yet.
PJ Katz has brought on a roster, of rappers that are fucking killing shit right now. MCs I was familiar with like SYFFAL favorites Giant Gorilla Dog Thing (the man beast Dez and the increasingly awesome Doodcomputer), Shyste (who might be one of the most underappreciated talents in the game), and the incomporable Elsphinx (who has officially become the rapper I am most anticipating hearing any and everything from over the next year); all of these assholes absolutely kill their respective verses and songs. It makes me giddy.
Then there are new-comers, and new to me rappers like Gorilla Tao, who is a throw back to the early 90s breath control, cadence, lyrics and style kings, Cidida who is kind of, for lack of a better term, emo-rap-ish, but in the best possible way, masterful underground artistry.
And then there is Devin B. This fucker. Holy shit! I am officially back in love with hip hop music because of this asshole. Listening to Devin reminds me of the first time I heard Listen Up by Erule. The perfect blend of style, skill, voice and content mixed with an easiness best reserved for people from Texas who have oil money and love weed.
Really 92 Renault Music is a perfect showcase for a region and for PJ Katz to plant his flag in the sand. If there is one rap album you dive into over the next few weeks make sure it is 92 Renault Music. I promise you won’t be disappointed.