New York City and London share history, lingo and connections as African diaspora and cultural centers, and for decades, hip-hop has strengthened the bond. Early stars like Slick Rick and the late MF DOOM were born in greater London, but started their careers in New York (and went through excruciating immigration fights). Today, rap’s ongoing cultural exchange can be seen in the relationships between stars like A$AP Rocky and Skepta, and in the proliferation of New York drill music influenced by the London scene, which drew its own influence from Chicago. . And, just like New York, London’s busy underground rap scene is preoccupied with a warm, insular sound that spreads thoughtful raps around sample-based distorted beats. It is within this framework that London rapper Jadasea and Brooklyn producer Laron find common ground.
Jadasea has been crafting prickly, contemplative raps since at least 2013, but he’s made his best impression as an affiliate of New York by way of London rapper MIKE; her 2020 single “Regrets” was a showcase for Jada’s bruised but grateful presence. Meanwhile, Laron got his start producing airy grooves with booming bass for the likes of XXXTentacion and Rich the Kid, becoming an in-house producer for Brooklyn rapper Jay Critch. Like adventurous New York-area beatmakers like Tony Seltzer, Laron likes grainy, sun-bleached samples that span hip-hop’s past and future. A few years ago, he sent Jadasea a beat pack “out of the blue”. Eventually they did The corner: vol. 1, Jadasea’s second release on MIKE’s 10k imprint and a solid, if overlong, collection of heady research on self-illumination.
On paper, Jadasea brings little new to the tried-and-true world of low-key pain rap. But his voice, or at least the way he overlaps, sets him apart. Many artists in this lane, particularly MIKE circa 2017, pride themselves on muddy, unmixed vocals that become another texture in a sea of sound, a reason to reach out and soak up every word. Jada achieves a similar effect with a relatively clean vocal mix and midrange tone like Slowthai with melatonin. His voice projects confidence, even if his terse and brooding writing style isn’t too far off from peers like Tony Bontana or John Glacier. Jada’s raps on “Peace Out” with MIKE land with force and conviction, working their way into pockets of Laron’s soulful organ samples: “I stuck with it, never left my place/ I’m just saying, man, they try test my faith.”