J Rawls should need no introduction. As the producer behind the dusted loops on the Beastie’s Schadrach remix, the syrupy sounds on Black Star’s Brown Skin Lady, Lone Catalyst’s classic piano piece Due Process, and the Asheru and Blue Black collab Dear You, he’s crafted some of the underground’s most beloved tunes during his two decades in the game. With this final album as an artist, Rawls humbly steps back from the boards to produce only one of The Legacy‘s thirteen tracks; leaving the beats in the capable hands of Kev Brown, Mighty DR, Rashad, and more as he shares the mic with Oddisee, Masta Ace and Blueprint.
Barb Fant’s resonant metaphors begin the record on a poetic note, leading into the upbeat grooves on My People as Rawls pens a sagacious overview of the game atop a sample flip that Badu and Dilla fans will recognize; ‘Speak from experience, I ain’t here to preach, the culture’s for entertainment, but it can still be used to teach.‘ Bombeardo’s uplifting instrumental for Bills sets swinging soul chops in motion for Rawls and Masta Ace to bless with quality rhymes befitting their veteran status; while the title track finds J reminiscing on his career over a catchy melody from Lakim, joined by Scienz Of Life emcee John Robinson, and Ceezar; who’s stand-out verse flows powerful like Big L and Dessy Hinds combined.
Lootpack’s Crate Diggin’ gets a contemporary counterpart as Keisha Soleil’s sweet melodies adorn the digger’s anthem Pure Love; with Rawls offering an ode to the sore knees and dusty fingers that have driven his production career. ‘Diggin’ is an art, do the knowledge, you can win it, cuz it ain’t Hip Hop if it ain’t no sample in it.’ Rashad’s sun-baked sounds make Rio a memorable single, as Rawls rhymes in double time before easing back into a mid-paced cadence on One Time.
Southside harks back to the first time J saw the ASR10, Kev Brown’s dope piano loop on Mr Cool makes for another infectious tune, and Rob Riley keeps the cool jazz lingering in the air on Nonstop. With an appreciation for everyone he’s worked with along the way, The Rest Of My Life comes straight from the heart; Illa J’s feature deserves props as he switches his usual laidback flows for soulful melodies, singing his ass off to provide a memorable hook; and as JG The Juggernaut ruminates over a Common sample on Omega, this final chapter of J Rawl’s solo career is as solid as swansongs come.
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