2021 has already proven to be a great year for rap and R&B, and indie artists are leading the charge. Back with his most focused project yet, Jxhar has returned with his third album, Please Don’t Crash! The singer, rapper, and songwriter is back in top form with assists from NewNew, Dachelle, Zeke Forever, LeVII, and No1-Noah.
The album opens with the de facto title track, “Crash,” a more traditional rap song that’s characterized by Jxhar’s rasp and different frantic flows that underscore his hunger to continuously top himself. The cinematic track even includes car crash sound effects which speaks to influence films, Blaxploitation-era films like Shaft and Superfly specifically, had on the album. Jxhar noted that he “always felt like listening to the album felt like you were in a movie.” It’s a relatively serious opener that gets the ball rolling for what eventually turns out to be a collection of slinky love songs that float somewhere between pop, R&B, and hip-hop. “Can’t Forget U” is one of the standout tracks on the album. It’s a smooth Drake and PARTYNEXTDOOR-influenced love song with a dash of toxicity, what’s not to love? No1-Noah makes a worthy appearance on this track; some may recognize his name from his two star-making features on Life On Earth, Summer Walker’s latest EP. According to Jxhar, the collaboration came about after a studio session where Louis IX made the beat for “Can’t Forget U” after listening to a No1-Noah track Jxhar had played. Jxhar said that he “started writing to it and felt like [he] kept trying to write a hook like No1 would, and it just wasn’t working.” In turn, he thought “Why not just get the real deal on the track?” So, he reached out to No1-Noah who then “hit [him] back and sent his vocals.”
“Pretend” sees Jxhar flexing his songwriting abilities with a brilliant and catchy hook that proves he can takeover the pop game at a drop of the hat. The way he breaks the vowel in the “mature/door” rhyme scheme to add an extra syllable is a quirky touch that pays off handsomely. This is what makes Jxhar’s music so intriguing; the unique touches he adds to his songwriting separate him from the hordes of underground artists working in the same genre. For example, on “WYNCM” he uses his vocal delivery to add notes of guilt and somberness to the repetition of the refrain “pick up your phone/I know you’re alone.” Please Don’t Crash is a notably cohesive unit; Jxhar remarked that “[he] and Louis IX executive produced the whole project, so going into it [they] were listening to Kennybeats and Key!’s 777 project on repeat to get a better understanding of how to create a project with one consistent producer and artist.”
Other standout tracks on Please Don’t Crash include “Problems,” a surprising relationship-centric duet with NewNew that combines interesting harmonies with futuristic production. The melody definitely carries this song, but it’s also a vehicle for Jxhar to show off how easily he can switch from rapping to singing. Furthermore, “Bye Bambi” finds Jxhar returning to rapping over a twinkling piano with a delivery that feels like it’s less of a structured song and more of a stream-of-consciousness moment. Please Don’t Crash showcases remarkable growth from Bad Days R Forever and Don’t Play With Fire. The production is tighter, the melodies and lyrics are sharper, and, from a conceptual standpoint, Jxhar is more focused than he’s ever been. The marquee stars of the mainstream may deliver fun records, but the most interesting work is coming from the artists whose names you may not have heard yet. Let Jxhar be the latest addition to your favorite playlist.