The movement has once again manifested as Conn-Lanta MC J. Nolan and New Jersey MC/Producer Yung B da Producer end the year with their highly anticipated, yet somewhat unexpected, Upbringing LP. After a successful collaboration album with Reese Jones at the beginning of 2012, Jamar goes 2 for 2 after teaming with Yung B for this 15-track audio film. A rare gem from the Southern underground Hip-Hop circuit, The Upbringing is a reminiscent blend of an early nineties film soundtrack (Think "Juice"), a mid nineties album (ie: "Hell on Earth" by Mobb Deep) and a late nineties mixtape from DJ Doo Wop. Short on features, but nothing short of greatness, The Upbringing is not an album, but a story that maintains a consistent theme of struggle and aspiration, allowing each song to effectively blend into the next.
Yung B steers the album, as well as the production, opening with a lyrical monologue following a speech from his alter ego Iron P who summarizes the Upbringing as what it is: the desire and pursuit for something greater from the mundane astronomy of everyday struggle. Following the intro, the album goes into the struggle of the lyrical protagonists with the song "1st & 15th". The album then carries the frustration over to the meat of the album with the title song, which is a personal favorite whose production carries an underlying sense of defeat and rage while the lyrics follow the personal struggles of each artist. The album takes a sinister turn with "NJ Undercover" whereas the artists follow the traditional path of a struggling young minority with stick-up motives. The remainder of the album can be interpreted as the repercussions that follow, with lyrical massacres such as "Let Me Get That" where J. Nolan shines with aggressive braggadocio that would impress Melle Mel with quotable lyrics "Girls showing TNA. Now they want the Impact".
Struggle is not the sole theme of this album, as Yung B takes over in the heartfelt, yet witty "Just Like the Movies" where he tells the story of a love lost, and J. ends the song with his own standards for the future Mrs. Nolan. Fast forward through a few more well placed jams to hear the album's sole feature: the ever eclectic Rizz Capolatti over the bang out "Sabbatical" who makes sure that his presence as the "Young Aristotle" is felt. The LP ends with a four-part finale, starting with the West Coast evening low-rider jam "64" that pulls elements from the likes of the Pharcyde. J. Nolan (The Pharaoh) and Yung B (Iron P) each have their own brief theme song before ending the LP with "The Sum of it All"
The album as a whole is a rare tandem between two solid MCs that brings back elements that many would try to "bring back" but often overlook. Loaded with simple elemental sound effects and other breaks between songs, the Upbringing brings a cinematic effect that allows the LP to be more than an album. Children of the Golden era would appreciate this album for J. Nolan's versatile rhyme delivery that would make any Big L fan proud and Yung B's gritty production, that shows heavy influence from the likes of Mobb Deep and Capone-N-Noreaga. The sole flaw of this album is that while it is warmly consistent, it can be repetitive at times, leaving the listener to wonder if he or she was not listening to the same song as the previous. Fortunately, This issue is a small fry in this loaded baked potato of an album. The Upbringing LP is available for free download as well for purchase on iTunes. In all honesty, the album is worth the purchase.