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The Dragon From An Ordinary Family
“The man has lost absolutely none of his ability to paint a picture with his words.”
“You’re way out of your depth—last dregs of my coffee, blueprints spread out on the desk…” Who cares if it’s been over five years since Jehst’s last solo album? The man has lost absolutely none of his ability to paint a picture with his words. He may have spent the past half-decade building up his YNR label into a force of nature, mentoring younger artists and getting his production game up, but Billy Brimstone is still as hot as hell.
His new record, The Dragon Of An Ordinary Family, is an incredibly powerful piece of music. Perhaps that’s the key to his reputation, the reason why his name is still causing ears to prick up five years after his last studio outing. His voice and his verses are raw power. Not the power of an irate boss screaming in your face, not the power of a wrestling bodyslam: this is the power of a black suit, a single look, a finger movement. It never needs to raise its voice. And boy, does it make for some sexy hip-hop.
The landscape in Jehst’s world is a dark, ominous authoritarian one, an England which is part Dickens and part Orwell. Tracks like True Intention, Back To The Drawing Board and Starting Over ensure that the album was worth the long wait. The production—courtesy of LG and Mr Thing, among others—is spot on, and, unlike so many other UK rap albums, guests are only brought out when it’s absolutely necessary.
But the power inherent in Jehst’s ability is also Dragon’s greatest failing. For while this is incredibly good rap music, it’s not going to win the hearts of those who aren’t already Jehst fans. It’s too dark, too deep, too filled with basement-level production and dense ideas for the casual listener. We’re certainly not suggesting that appreciating Jehst is the domain of the privileged rap geek—far from it—but you’ve got to dedicate a lot of time and energy to this one. Fortunately, it’s worth the trip.