Jaz-O - Kingz Kounty      
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written by Low Key    
I never truly paid any attention to Jaz-O until his cameo on "N*gga What, N*gga Who" from Jay-Z's "Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life" LP. It was then that I realized I have heard him before and that he was Jay-Z's stepping stone. "Kingz Kounty" is not a Jaz-O solo album. Out of the 19 tracks, Jaz-O is only on half of them. The rest are handled by The Immobilarie family and guests. Dibiase (who sounds like a grown up Lil Dap from The Group Home) is the other main voice heard on the album. The others (Neillon, Tah Jiggz, Floss Orion & P. Knocka) do not leave any lasting impressions at all. Personally, I cannot distinguish them from each other.

It is obvious that Jaz-O is trying to follow the formula that Jay-Z is using. There are 2 token Premier-produced tracks. There are songs about clubbing and picking up women and of course, songs about flossing. Drugs play a role along with some sung hooks and electronic beats. It is harsh but I get the feeling that Jaz-O is the poor man's Jay-Z. He is more than an emcee though. Jaz-O has produced songs for Jay-Z, Rakim, Sauce Money and more. On this album, he does some production work too. Still, Jaz-O recently has been getting tons of press lately because of his beef (or bitterness) towards Jay-Z. All of this animosity was voiced after this album so if you are looking for direct Jay-Z disses, you won't find them here.

Out of the nineteen tracks, there are only four extremely dope cuts. Two of those are produced by DJ Premier. The album's opener "718" has an incredible beat. The opening emcee sounds very much like O.C. but lacks the lyrical intensity even though he possesses a strong flow and delivery. The beat and the scratching are the true gems of the song. Each emcee does have a very energetic and powerful flow with decent lyrics. It is a terrific way to start an album off but it also raises the bar high for disappointment. "Love Is Gone" is the probably the best track on the album. The soulful vocal singing sample works extremely well with Premier's chopped up piano melodies and beat. After the singing sample, Nas's voice is scratched from "The Message": "Love changes…". Lyrically and delivery-wise, it is a nice track too. Jaz-O and Dibiase go back and forth on the track giving it a very intense energy that is specifically entertaining. The song is a serious one about how love between friends and in the hip hop world has severely died. Many people see this as a message to Jay-Z. Ether way, it's an excellent track. Premier truly shines here.

The song "Pledge Allegiance" (produced by Jaz-O), features M.O.P. and an un-credited Ras Kass. This dope track uses the same sample as "Solidify" by Ruck (from Heltah Skeltah). M.O.P. and Ras Kass kill it. They own the track and anyone else, is just there because they were let in the door.

There are a couple of good songs that are better than filler but not incredible. "Let's Go" (produced by Jaz-O) features Jay-Z and Sareefah. This is a fully electronic Swizz beats rip off. There are many of these types of songs on this album but this is the only one that works well. The hook is extremely catchy and Jay-Z only has one lazy verse. Jaz-O is pissed at Jay-Z because he did not appear in the video. Still, it is an addictive commercial track that actually works in an odd way. "Deadly" is the Jaz-O solo cut which is also produced by him. This is a cool track because of the chaotic and spiraling orchestra loop and Jaz-O's energy. The scratching is a major plus. "Diaries", produced by Jaz-O, has some very nice scratching and cool vocal samples. Jay-Z's lines from "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" are scratched throughout the song to give the drug dealing tales a vivid quality.

Then, there are the tracks that should have been good. "Heron & Crack (Just Say No)", produced by Zukhits, could have been creative but just come off as a little above average. Here, they rhyme through the eyes of the drug itself. One emcee is Heroin and the other is crack. The sinister vibe of absolute doom does work due to the dark piano and harsh fuzzed out guitar. "Slut" with Cold Crush Brothers and Grandmaster Caz looks like it would be cool but turns out to be horrible due to the lame electro-beat, boring sung hook and dumb rhymes about platinum, champagne, and getting women in bed.

The majority of the album is watered down by electronic Swizz Beats / Rockwilder / Timbaland rip-offs. It sounds like this was made when Jay-Z's "Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life" was extremely popular. Zukhits is the producer who is to blame for this. If Jaz-O produced the majority of the tracks (with some songs produced by Premier and D.R. Period), this may have been a very dope album. Besides the cheesy beats, the lyrics do not go past flossing, getting money, selling drugs and picking up women in clubs. Forgettable and stereotypical tracks like "Take Me Papi," "The Best," "This Be Him," "Live It Up" and "I Know What You Like" all water down this album by being blatant attempts of being wannabe club anthems. "I Know What You Like" is the worst offender due to the stereotypical use of words like "thug," "diamond rings," "Prada," etc. It gets very boring if the emcees do not have charisma and the beats are lame. These are exactly the type of songs I hate to hear but are always on the radio. In this case, they aren't even on the radio but it is so blatant that the Immobilarie family thinks these songs 'should be' on the radio.

Besides the 2 Premier produced songs, the best songs are the ones with Jaz-O on the mic and/or on production. Jaz-O is a talented emcee and producer in many ways. It is too bad that this album is watered down by horrible production, his crew of forgettable emcees, and trite sentiments and themes. It is also too bad that he will probably be forever in Jay-Z's shadow. It is so obvious that he is trying to be like Jay-Z that it is actually quite sad. A small handful of incredible tracks on a nineteen track album does not make this worth the purchase price. A broken clock that tells the correct time twice a day still needs to be fixed.