36 tracks loaded with 90s samples, more than 3 features on almost every song, and a run time of almost 3 hours? Let’s just say that such a collaborative marathon isn’t par for the course in hip-hop, but it’s quite fitting for Kool John. The Richmond native has made his name bringing local artists together in a show of regional unity, hence the title of his most recent project, Live From the New Bay.
The songs are long, but entertaining and nostalgic. Kool John sought to produce a tape that sampled 80s and 90s slow jams, so beat smiths SB Focus, JustinKase, Sage the Gemini, and others reworked songs like Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me,” and TLC’s “Creep” for the affair. It gives the Live From the New Bay a familiar feeling; even though you’re listening to something completely new, you can’t help but feel like you’ve known these songs for years.
One of the standout tracks on the tape is ”Jump 2012,” which features Starting Six, Bobby Brackins, Young Bari, Show Banga, Plane Jane, ST Spittin, Symba, HBK Gang, Nio Tha Gift, Jay Ant, AkaFrank, and Armani Depaul. It may seem like a lot, but the features are part of what make this tape worth listening to. It seems as if Live From the New Bay, wasn’t made just for Kool John’s exposure, but to showcase everyone’s talent. In an industry where loyalty is rare, it’s always a plus finding an artist who wants to take their crew to the top with them.
Live From the New Bay proves that Kool John can rap and facilitate a movement. Throughout these 36 tracks, he delivers the originality, charisma, and fun characteristic of his Shmop Life movement. Kool John and his Click Full of Party Animals (CFOPA) are known for throwing boisterous non-violent house parties known as shmops; and with this new tape, he gives his young fans the soundtrack to their next party.