Stoney Jackson – Strong Arm Steady

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at you with a mélange of funky beats, trippy Madlib the Beat Konducta
production and some cool rhymes, the Strong Arm Steady collective’s new album, In Search of Stoney Jackson is a dazzling array of rhymes, featuring Guilty
Simpson, Chace Indefinite, Evidence, Fashawn, Mitchy Slick, Montage One, Oh No, Defari,
Phats Bossalini, Phonte, Planet Asia, Res, Roc C, Roscoe, Sick Jacken, Tri, and the great Talib Kweli.

forges a sound for these emcees more vibrant than the psyched out “soul cinema”
album cover of Stoney Jackson. The opening “Best of Times” features Phonte
dishing out biting commentary, “If times get tight, will the shows still sell
out? Poor folk need help they call it welfare, but when rich folk need it they
call it a bailout, it make me wanna yell out… new opportunities are ways to
rhyme, respect your mind and celebrate the best of times.” This quip is the
mode of this album, a celebratory statement of embracing the day while saddled
with its uncertainties. Tracks like “Cheeba Cheeba,” “Chittlins &
Pepsi” and “Questions” scope the topics of grass, fatherhood and issues of “blood
sweat and tears, take a look back at my life, like how did I make it here?”

Talib Kweli reignites the party midway through
the album with “Get Started,” surrounded by the quirky soul segments “Interlude
1,” “Smile” and the romance of “New Love.” The album takes off on an odyssey of
dizzying and dazzling heights with “Pressure,” “True Champs,” and “Get Money.” The album ends in comedy, with “Interlude 2,” “Chants,” “Bark Like a Dog,” “Two Pistols” featuring
a mixture of samples rolling forward and backwards (possibly lifted from the
Main Ingredient’s “Everybody Plays the Fool”), the rough and tough “Ambassadors” and the
obligatory “Outro” that presents Madlib mixing together a break-beat finish.

Strong Arm Steady no doubt have already taken their hats off to Madlib’s amazing
production. When the album does falter, in moments where the rap flows are not as “steady” as their namesake, they're smoothly washed under rich layers of samples, beats and effects that trigger vague action movie flashbacks. It could be said that while In Search of Stoney Jackson is a
hip-hop jam session in nature, the Strong Arm Steady collective sounds like
they are living in their own b-movie scored by the Beat Konducta himself.