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Kevin Abstract - ARIZONA BABY Music Album Reviews

The BROCKHAMPTON star’s latest solo album is an often powerful document by a queer artist who has weathered life’s bruises.
In a move inspired by Shia LaBeouf’s bemusing catalog of durational work, Kevin Abstract recently endured 10 hours on a treadmill on a suburban street of his hometown, Corpus Christi, Tex. While running, the BROCKHAMPTON singer and rapper multi-tasked: He took selfies, signed sneakers, posed with a baby, and mumbled along to the chorus of his recent single, the yearning gay love song “Baby Boy.” Abstract vaguely told one fan that the performance was to teach empathy—indeed, you could interpret it as an allegory for the upstream battle to make it out of suburbia for so many kids—but that didn’t save it from feeling like a stunt.

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Junglepussy - JP3 Music Album Reviews

Junglepussy - JP3 Music Album Reviews
On her third album, the New York rapper sounds as joyfully lascivious as ever, but slower and funkier, casting aside trifling men and centering her own self-fulfillment.

“Black women are tired,” the rapper Junglepussy recently told Dazed. “Like, we have to do so much, and you really want me to tell you how to treat me like a decent human being? No!” In fact, Junglepussy spent much of her explosive first two albums, 2014’s Satisfaction Guaranteed and 2015’s Pregnant With Success, telling men to how do exactly that: Her best songs, like her breakout single “Bling Bling,” are booming, unapologetic, and hilarious instructions on how to serve a woman’s needs, whether that be making her dinner or giving her head.

Still, on those two records, her fiery takedowns often had the ring of a Sisyphean burden—black women will always be forced to lead the way and keep others in line, ad nauseam, leaving no time for themselves. Even at her fiercest, Junglepussy sometimes had trouble practicing the self-sufficiency she preached, since it was so tied up in the actions of men and haters surrounding her (“You never greased my scalp/You never called me a Uber/You never picked no fruits for a nigga!” she hisses resentfully on Pregnant With Success’ “Nothing for Me.”)

Three years later, Junglepussy is back with JP3, which finds her ditching the last of that resentment and replacing it with a funkier, more melodic, and more carefree vibe, full of slow grooves and self-affirming lyricism. “I’ve learned so much about myself” since Pregnant With Success, she said in the same interview, and it couldn’t be clearer: JP3 has Junglepussy looking away from trifling men and toward self-fulfillment. The high-tempo verbal assaults and twerk-ready anthems are mostly gone this time, but the real difference is Junglepussy’s energy: She’s full of laughter, trying her hand at humming and singing, leaving spaces for the beat to breathe where her younger self would’ve ripped half-shouted verses. Whereas before her rhymes about sex—her go-to subject—were rattled off with an almost confrontational absurdism, on JP3, they’re just as visceral, but almost entirely in reference to herself and the beauty of her own body, leaving her anonymous partner standing far off to the side (“Thighs thick as mud/pussy never funky like a skunk” she boasts on “Get Down”).

Much of this change begins in the beats, which are simply exquisite. The production, overseen by her longtime collaborator Shy Guy, is rich, inventive, and hypnotic, and leagues more soulful and worldly than anything he’s previously provided Junglepussy. With the help of producer Say Hey, he nimbly hops from sensual, body-rolling dub (“Ready 2 Ride”) to a Kamaiyah-like Bay Area bounce (“I’m in Love”), providing Junglepussy with the kinds of lush, endlessly interesting instrumentals that few indie rappers have access to.

The album begins with “State of the Union,” maybe the only track on JP3 that is a callback to her early work. Over a RZA-esque violin sample and heavy bass, Junglepussy reestablishes herself as one of the most entertaining one-line spitters working today: “No cook crack with that black girl magic/I’m smokin’ Spike Lee joint, she just gotta have it/Everybody wanna be black, it’s so tragic,” she spits with furor. It’s a great opener, but it also serves as a growth marker for the rest of the album: By the time JP3 wraps up with the all-sung slow jam “Showers,” it’s difficult to reconcile this unbothered, blissed-out Junglepussy with the fire-spitting hellraiser just nine songs earlier.

Despite the sound switch, the principal subject matter is the same: Junglepussy is still in a league of her own when it comes to talking about sex, only this time it’s more on her terms than ever before. The Sporting Life-co-produced “I Just Want It” has her demanding head in a male-mimicking low register over flute samples and trap drums, while on “Trader Joe” she raps, with irreverent joy, “I think I like him more than I like Trader Joe’s/I’ll swallow kids if he start eating vegetables.” Best of all is “Long Way Home,” a late-night smoking groove dedicated to finessing one-night stands out of well-endowed men. “Feelin’ the dick, all up in my armpit” she chants in a chopped-and-screwed voice on the chorus, setting up Three 6 Mafia legend Gangsta Boo, whose confident, sex-filled wordplay is a clear predecessor to Junglepussy’s, and who sneers at her lover, “Damn that dick looks thick/How many inches is it?” The dirty talk is triumphant and silly, dominating and desirous, but without the gut-punch of Junglepussy’s previous work: Here, she’s diverted that aggression and energy exclusively toward female pleasure.

JP3 closes with “Showers,” a blissful and exalted cookout-ready jam, and a perfect ending to an album about being sonically and spiritually free. JP3 might sacrifice some of Junglepussy’s previously hedonistic splendor for poppier hooks and mellower vibes, but it also introduces us to a happier, more mature woman. “Scars on my body-ody/Cutting like decorations,” she sings tenderly on “Showers,” in a rare moment of autobiographical revelation. But she doesn’t elaborate. Instead, she triumphantly launches into the chorus as an antidote: “Shower with my chains on, took a shower all my chains on!” Black women are tired, and they shouldn’t have to tell people how to treat them. Yet they do, and probably always will. On JP3, Junglepussy posits that the only way to persist through never-ending struggle is to look inward for joy and acceptance, and hope that the rest of the world will come around in time.

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