(Here is where the reformed English grad student in me makes an appearance.) Ishmael Reed is one of my all-time favorite authors. His seminal work, 1972’s Mumbo Jumbo, is a true literary collage. It is a dense 220 pages (depending on which edition you consider). The book incorporates footnotes, quotes from other texts, seemingly misplaced pictures, different fonts designed to offset specific passages, and asides that are signed by the author himself.
All of these pieces seem dissimilar when considered separately, but when viewed as a collective whole, they present something that is crazy, scary, and jolting. Two-thirds of Company Flow are releasing albums shortly. El-P’s Cancer for Cure is sure to get most of the headlines, but Bigg Jus’ Machines That Make Civilization Fun deserves some attention. Bigg Jus offers an aural assault on his forthcoming album, his first solo release in seven years. Bigg Jus is like a hip-hop Ishmael Reed, an author know for his distinctively original satirical voice.
“Black Roses”, “Hard Times for New Lovers”, and the title track prove to be highlights. They each sound exceedingly menacing, but deliver on the idea of Jus as a true artist. His work feels like a musical collage. Each time you listen, you pick up some new flourishing element or another layer. It’s a crazy puzzle. Jus doesn’t offer any clues or hints like Reed often does in his fiction. Jus expects the audience to educate and submerge itself. The statement can’t be fully appreciated and comprehended without complete immersion. It’s a bold statement.
Make no mistake about it, this is a difficult listen. But it is also an extremely rewarding one. Each successive listen offers something new, and ultimately something interesting. Initially, I fucking hated this album. I wasn’t being patient. We owe it to the artist to fully consider the statement, and to not dismiss it once we don’t fully understand or appreciate it. I nearly made this mistake.