Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Potholes
It was – to be blunt – very easy to get excited about Willie Isz, also known as the pairing of Khujo Goodie and Jneiro Jarel. Now, I, and others, knew Khujo for his fantastic rhymes as part of the on-again, off-again Southern powerhouse Goodie Mob. As for Jarel, he invaded my listening space sometime last year. That was when critics and listeners alike told me I needed to hear his wild instrumentals after I praised the hell out of Flying Lotus’s Los Angeles. And, to no one’s surprise, Jarel’s acid-dripped, jazz-influenced beats became a mainstay on my iTunes. But what would happen when he teamed up with Khujo Goodie to become Willie Isz? Well, it’s hard to say exactly.
The issue with the utter weirdness that is Georgiavania is that sometimes you like it and sometimes you are bored by it. And, then, every so often, you find that you love the record and its psychedelic quirks. That’s not to say it’s a grower, though. The album, a hazy blend of crunk and ’70s drug-rock, is just bogged down by several cuts that feel both forced and unnecessary, especially amid their superior cohorts. “U Want Some” and “Autopilot” fit that bill perfectly. In particular, the autotune-laden “Autopilot”, which seems promising with its spooky opening, ends up sounding like a less-impressive “I Didn’t Mean To”, one of the album’s best and most experimental songs. The only track that truly fails is “Violet Heart Box”. Rather than start off promising and find a pocket to stay in, Khujo and Jarel sound lost in the messy beat.
Another clunker is the downtrodden, be-yourself anthem “Loner”. Besides sounding like a weak Gnarls Barkley leftover, the track unfortunately breaks up a stream of consistent hits that start off the album. First there is the appropriately-titled “Blast Off”, which plays like a shot to the heavens with Khujo and Jarel flying through classic rock guitar riffs and stuttering drums. And then there is the title-track, a cut driven by slightly off-tempo piano-clanking to match Khujo’s furious flow. It also features a feather-ruffling verse from Jarel – yes, he raps on here – as he and Khujo take shots at inferior emcees and producers.
From that point on, Georgiavania‘s wild soundscape of spiraling synthesizers, swirling guitars, and finger-snapping drums hardly lets up. “Gawn Jet” is a crunk-tastic masterpiece of braggadocio and “In The Red”, which closes out the album on a somber note, could be one of the best throwback ’90s joints heard in some time. Even on the slower tracks, such as the gorgeous and melancholy “Spiritual Gladiators”, there is plenty to nod your head about.
Aside from those aforementioned duds (“Loner”, “Autopilot”, and “U Want Some”), Georgiavania‘s greatest stumbling block is in its inherent not-for-everyone quality. It’s simply a record some will love and others will despise, mostly because it’s so goddamned bizarre at times. But the album’s strangeness is what makes it so irresistable. And while the combination of Khujo and Jarel is still one that has me scratching my head, it would be ridiculous to deny their ability to craft an enjoyable record.