That glorious, funky, soul-stirring noise makes so much sense when then man who recorded 'Blood is the New Black' starts dealing out the details of a life set to a groove and a career set to a rock-solid ethic.
Born in 198', the year Run-DMC released its first single, Jabee wrote his first rap seven years later, egged on and encouraged by uncles who rapped on the local scene and knew the value of great choruses and hooks. By the time he was twice that age he was in the studio, and a couple of years after that, Jabee, aka Jabee Williams, aka Jabee the Beautiful, was becoming a local sensation as a performer, blowing away Oklahoma City crowds with his mellifluous and meaningful hip-hop, all of which was set to the sweet soul and jazz riffs of his parents' vinyl collection.
'Growing up, that's all my mom and dad would play all old school stuff,' Jabee said. 'Most songs have a break in them, most songs have a bridge. I'd rap over the bridges and the breaks. Just from day one, I wanted to bring it into what I was doing because that's what I grew up on: rap, soul, jazz, funk and even old gospel jams.'
Jabee, who will take the main stage at the Norman Music Festival on April '5, built '008's 'Blood is the New Black' from the cellular level as a calling card for his talent and commitment. Produced in part by Russian-born turntablist DJ Vadim, 'Blood is the New Black' rocks the deep soul of Jabee's youth and tells stories about joyous life and unnecessary death, schoolboy crushes and crushing tragedies. The '001 shooting death of his brother courses through Jabee's lyrics as a constant reminder of the real stakes in his life, but there are also exuberant dance floor rave-ups such as 'Boombox' that are just one tip-off from an A-list rapper away from being sudden success stories.
But most of all, 'Blood is the New Black' and his '009 mixtape, the Mick Boogie-produced 'Must Be Nice,' speak to the rapper's professionalism and a desire to win with a smile. Jabee's music does not just sound 'good for Oklahoma' it holds its own with the top levels of 'backpack' hip-hop.
Furthermore, his background as a church youth leader and social worker means that Jabee never falls into rock-bottom party rap and keeps his rhymes sparkling and profanity-free.