“The Joys Of Life & Pain” (Jericho Lounge Music, Released: 5-7-13) / Purchase “Joys Of Life..” HERE
“Glass Ceilings” (Etcetera)
I may be a bit biased with this review, so be it. However, it’s no secret that Chi-Town’s Thaione Davis quickly become one of my personal favorites with the release of his “Still Hear” in 2009. Solely produced by Chapter 13′s, and an under-appreciated emcee/producer himself, Rahid Hadee, “Still Hear” ended up as one of the top 5 releases of that particular year. Considered a personal classic, I’m having second thoughts after really enjoying his May release “The Joys of Life & Pain”. It saddens me when I view various RateYourMusic, Complex and virtually every “thus far/mid-year” and “Best Albums of The Year” list, this opus is nowhere to be found. Yet, I’m battling between this release, Blame One & J-57′s “Walk In The Sun”, Epidemic’s “Somethin’ For Tha’ Listeners” and the recently released (just this Tuesday) collaborative effort from LMNO & Evidence, “After The Fact”, as to which is the finest album of 2013?
We’ll shorten things up a bit and let’s just go with “The Joys..” for all intents and purposes. First things first, “The Joys..” bursts out of the gates with Davis’ two self-produced offerings, “Control” and one of the album’s first releases “Hold Me Down”. I’m digging Thaione’s usage of Black Thought’s vocals for the hook on control and the instantly recognizable sample will bring a smile to your face and a bop to your step as it also serves as one of the album’s most pulsing, head-nodding tracks. The album evolves into a Chi-Town affair as up and coming producer, Tall Black Guy, provides the backdrop for “Galaxie’s A Problem”, on which Tall Black Guy also appears as a member of the 80′s Babies. “Galaxie’s”, while overlooked by me upon the first few listens, has possibly eclipsed “Glass Ceilings” as my favorite cut from the LP.
Speaking of “Glass Ceilings” aka “Etcetera”, Davis nails it with his production once again, utilizing a Buckshot vocal sample from “How Many Emcees” as well as a “C.R.E.A.M.” excerpt to serve as the hook. With production assistance from the aforementioned Tall Black Guy, Kenny Keys and once again, Hadee who lends a production hand on four tracks, it’s hard not to argue that the shining productions are delivered via Davis himself. However, as promising as the album starts off, keep in mind, I’m talking like 9 tracks in (!), things slow down with the Kenny Keys-produced “Anythingthatbenefit”. “Anything..” just seems out of place on the album as the less than stellar production interrupts things very briefly, as the first portion of the album is albeit flawless.
As a lyricist, Davis is already blessed with great vocals, a truly memorable voice. Thaione’s flow, delivery and subject matter haven’t changed much since the release of 2009, and that’s a definite positive. Easily pinned as a conscious, underground, backpack emcee, Davis is just one very educated, smart cat when it comes to making music. Always touching upon potent subject matter, it’s safe to say that Davis has a lil’ “dead prez” in him. Easily one of 2013′s best albums, you’d be remiss by sleeping on this LP. With very little filler and plenty of rewind material, “The Joys Of Life & Pain” should be in your headphones before year’s end. It’s very hard to find an emcee with the delivery and skill of Davis, whom also has the potency of ill production to match his undeniable talents.