Wednesday in Columbus: J. Sands & Bottom Brick

J. Sands & Bottom Brick
Cafe Bourbon Street
Wednesday, January 31st

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MC J. Sands may have been born in Pittsburgh and may currently reside in Maryland, but he spent most of his formative years here in Columbus. His name has definitely made its travels through underground hip-hop circles, mostly from his work with producer/DJ J. Rawls as the Lone Catalysts, a group with at least a 10-year history and plans for a new LP in 2007. Before that happens, however, J. Sands is coming to town to celebrate the release of two other projects: his own The Breaks Volume 2: The Interlude Violator and the compilation Bringing It Home Volume 2, both on the Catalysts’ B.U.K.A. Entertainment label.

The Breaks 2 follows an interesting concept where Sands (with help from a couple other producers) recycles interlude tracks (and a few actual beats) from various classic hip-hop albums and makes full songs. Though there could be reasonable doubt as to the effectiveness of this idea, the album turned out rather well. The beats hit pretty hard, and though there is always something to be said for original material, the craftiness of most of the beats here results in solid, often jazzy tracks with a touch of comfortable familiarity for a listener who may not be familiar with the MC at hand. Sands’ straight-forward, workman-like flows match the beats well, and his rhymes are usually clever enough to round out the package. Highlights include the reflective “Nifty Q” and “Blue Balls,” a cooing tale of female pursuit that stands out amongst a handful of songs with similar subject matter. Overall, The Breaks 2 is a testament to the ingenuity that is often necessary to produce hip-hop worth listening to.

Bringing It Home 2 brings together 18 tracks from B.U.K.A. artists and affiliates from various 12″ releases over previous years. Of course, there are plenty of Lone Catalysts/J. Sands tunes, but there are enough other artists and guests (underground luminaries including El Da Sensai, Wordsworth, and K-Otix) present to keep things interesting. The music covers most of the hip-hop spectrum, ranging from the opening club track “Saturday” by By Any Meanz to the cautionary tales of the Top Emcees’ “Cause & Effect.” Though the overall vibe of the comp may be a bit dated, there a handful of great songs and plenty of solid underground jams.

Also on the bill is Columbus’ Bottom Brick. At the end of last year, they released The Framework EP, a 7-track disc to prepare hip-hop types for a forthcoming debut full-length. The rhymes of MCs Seance, H.I.M., and Adjust, the beats of producers Mattinee and Seance, and the cuts of DJ Lefty meld well into some sturdy, old-fashioned boom-bap with plenty of energy and fresh air. The well-honed braggadocio of “No Concerns” and the smoky determination of “Made” open the album strong, and show that the MCs are comfortable over both producers’ beats. The tracks here are a telling showcase of the abilities of this collective and reason enough to anticipate the group’s new material.

DJs Detox and Rare Groove round out this hip-hop smörgåsbord.

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