Right off the heels of 2018’s Project Is Done and The Sap Junt, Jai Musiq is back with his latest album: All4y’all. The introspective album looks to hip hop’s past (he’s bringing skits back!) to tackle the instability of 2020 in all of its forms. The album opens with the stunning “Self Affirmation,” a revelatory track that feels like a conversation between Jai and his own subconscious. On the track, which is produced by Goliath Beatz, Jai references past songs of his like “Patience” and “Bluff City Blues” while also spitting lines of triumph, building together, and moving forward. There are hints of “MIDDLE CHILD” era J. Cole in Jai’s delivery and lyrical focus, but the song feel unique to him. In the same way “I Might Need Security” was bursting at the seams with fire and passion, “Self Affirmation” brings that same energy and perfectly sets the tone for the album.
That fire appears again on a more radio-ready track by the name “Move.” If only COVID-19 hadn’t shut down the clubs. “Move” would be that one ever-so-slightly toxic song that you can’t help but dance to. When Jai proclaims, “Bitch move/Back it up, I be needing my space,” there’s big Ludacris energy there, and what’s better than that? “Crazy Ain’t It” offers a lens shift as Jai sharpens his focus on taxing romantic relationships. Where “Move” is a song for the clubs, “Crazy Ain’t It” is a record that is infinitely more focused on storytelling. He really immerses the audience in his tormented psyche for the duration of this track. “I can’t help that all my trauma made me do things I regret/I can’t help my mama loved so hard and never got it back/I can’t help she look at me and I remind her of my dad,” Jai raps; it’s a particularly visceral and gut-wrenching song. Jai has no fear about opening up his heart and mind on his records, and “Crazy Ain’t It” is the sort of stream-of-consciousness number that makes rap so rewarding.
In addition to his stellar rapping, Jai also shows off his singing voice on All4y’all. There’s “Ruthless,” on which he takes a more melodic sing-rap approach to the beat. He chooses a smart collaborator to assist him on this track, Goldie Rebel, whose slight growl offers the perfect counterbalance to Jai’s more laid-back approach. It’s “Baby Oranges,” however, that just may be the crowning jewel of the album. This could be Jai Musiq’s breakout hit. From the murky guitar-based Frank Ocean-esque production to the clear Mac Miller influence in his cadence, “Baby Oranges” is a gorgeous moment of heartfelt vulnerability. “And I’m so happy to be yours/Maybe you was who my hopeless romanticism was waiting for” is maybe the most wholesome line you’ll hear all year, and it’s the perfect way to help draw All4y’all — yet another great effort from Jai Musiq — to a close.
Check out All4y’all here.