It’s been a great year for producer and college student Jay James. He continues to thrive from the success of his year old, Childish Gambino-inspired “Situations” rework.
Earlier this month, the San Diego beat maker released his debut project entitled It’s Beautiful, inspired by Tricia Lopez’s short story (under the same name). An abstract route was taken for cover art — displaying a headless Jay within a blurred space. Fourteen tracks waver between instrumentals and featured vocals. Marcus Semaj, Lashaun Ellis, SophiaKapri and others are featured throughout.
I’ve stretched myself thin as possible, but it’s all been worth it.
Jay James on crafting It’s Beautiful.
IB has been greatly received by fans and listeners alike; landing on iTunes chart for R&B/Soul albums on the release night. This is quite a feat for the young independent producer who is constantly making moves.
Jay’s project opens with “5:50”, where revving engines intertwine with calming sounds to seamlessly introduce the project-titled instrumental, “It’s Beautiful”. Faint harmonies are looped and combined with hi-hats, piano and a guitar solo melody. Here, various sounds influence an imaginative space for listeners to muffle their surroundings and tune into his expressive sounds. This track alone reflects Jay as a producer; fusing mellow tones to create an ingenious sound that speaks for itself. You are bound to feel goosebumps.
Marcus Semaj pumps soul into “Let Me Be (Now)”. The 90210 vocalist expresses the importance of living in the moment. “Away” segues into “Dreamers”, a melancholic and doubtful anthem driven by a destructive reality. Leshuan Ellis paints a depressing, yet relatable story of life’s struggles and vices . Saxophones aid to deepen a frightening atmosphere. “Pray 4 U$” counteracts “Dreamers” by conveying a hopeful account and the importance of prayer.
A brief intermission occurs with “Coast to Coast”, where an insightful open-ended conversation about life’s ambiguities and one’s existence occurs by yourself or with someone else. The type of deep chats where you are yearning for perspective and interpretation. Redd delivers a gritty flow as SophiaKapri brings background vocals.
Kapri is more pronounced in “Paralysis”, expanding on the project’s theme of calling for help. Squethan adds profound deep bars from an out-of-body perspective. “Fall In ” briefly features ad-libs by Alex Noble.
PRODBYICE contributes passionate vocals for “Tossing and Turning”, one of the more experimental R&B tracks. “Garry’s Song” reverts to a less-complex instrumental shift, highlighted by guitar riffs and moderate hi-hats. “Jungle” concludes IB. Semaj ends the work with an open and realist mentality. Life is a jungle.
Jay set the bar high with this one. He’s a college freshman with the talents of a well-seasoned producer.The project’s story will feel more personal as if you are experiencing catharsis with each track. The project is truly beautiful in all aspects.
If there is one thing to be learned: do not underestimate Jay James’ work ethic, talent or drive. There’s more to come. Until then listen to this repeatedly, explore his Soundcloud and patiently wait for what is in store.
Read Tricia Lopez’s short story here, for better context and interpretation of the whole album. IB is available for stream on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music & purchase on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.
Photos by Michael Abshear