JJ Doom - Keys to the Kuffs

by James Bray Rating:8 Release Date:2012-08-20

JJ doom is a collaborative act made up of east coast rapper MF Doom and rapper/producer Jneiro Jarel. Doom was born in London but his family then moved to New York where he was raised. In Keys to the Kuffs the New Yorkers revisits his birthplace and raps about London. This may already sound a bit too concept, a bit too esoteric, but in fact this record's charms lie in its arty guerilla weirdness.

At times the outsider's inside perspective on London doesn't work very well as Doom sounds like Ol' Dirty Bastard on holidays, trying to do cockney rhyming slang. Doom raps about everything from economics ("Gov'nor") to biochemistry and race relations ("Winter blues") and it's all washed over with simples beats and sound collages. Jarel and Doom layer samples from advertisements, documentaries, old records and tv shows, evoking the media excesses of city and life and creating rhythm and melodies for the vocals. This record is so urban and cool that it even has collaborations with Damon Albarn and Beth Gibbons (Portishead); Gibbons' track "GMO" being one of the finest songs on the record.
Doom's multiple personas and the surfeit of collaborations on this record might be too much for the casual listener. The mood and charcater of the record changes quite freely creating an ambiguous mood and voice; but that's just Doom and Jarel reaffirming their urban credentials and their relevance to the underground rap scene (we are many.) Keys to the Kuffs is a graffiti-art-rap record and it's really good. Try before you buy, "Winter blues" and "GMO."

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