A few months ago, I was able to have a few words with Jamee Cornelia, a promising young MC and producer from Marietta, Georgia. Getting her start as a member of the Visibly Inflight hip hop collective, Jamee has flourished as a solo-artist and a member of other musical projects, such as the punk band Howling Star. At the time of our interview back in April, Cornelia was wrapping up work on her solo full-length debut, Toys In The Attic, which dropped on October 5th.
Toys In The Attic finds the 22 year old emcee at her best to date, with crisp production courtesy of engineer Eriiic J. and beats by WinoWilly, Cray2Mass, and Cornelia herself. The album also features guest verses by fellow Visibly Inflight crewmen Wvve and Sonko (on the second and closing track respectively), as well as a particularly hot spot by Latasha Alcindor on “Hit Em!”, which might be my favorite track on the whole album.
Jamee sings and raps, though she usually combines the two techniques in practice (or sings her own back up). Her smokey voice lays somewhere between the bad girl attitude of Azealia Banks and the sultry darkness of Lana Del Rey, touched with a hint of Odd Future’s punk-ish sneer. Toys In The Attic takes an immediate and deep plunge into Jamee’s pop-culture soaked psyche, taking frequent and abrupt turns into third-eye poking metaphysics and expletive-laced odes to Taco Bell’s graciously affordable menu items.
Jamee’s influences are dyed in the wool of her work, blending the psychedelic funk and trill swagger of Outkast’s two halves, and incorporating a healthy dose of acid rap in the vain of Kid Cudi and Chance The Rapper. The mid-album track “Meeting Real Monsters”, produced by Cornelia, is a clear homage to her love of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, using a sample of the synthesizer intro from the song “On the Run” as it’s basis, turning it into a jarring noise-drone track, an odd though fitting addition to the album, and the only instrumental-interlude present on the album, and a satisfying one at that (how often can you really say that?).
Previously mentioned fave, “Hit Em!” has all the aggressive hype and experimental weirdness of a Death Grips track. Opening with an energetic, Southeast Asia-evoking percussion sample, the beat drops into a raucous, reverb-drenched, bass-filled mess, with Jamee dropping snappy references to hardcore mosh pits, coupon clipping, and The Boondocks, before handing the mic off to the venom-tongued Latasha Alcindor.
Another interesting track, “Helga G Pataki”, shows Jamee crooning over a chill, jazzy-beat with creepy overtones, doing her best to articulate a twisted, obsessive love and infatuation, creating a similar vibe as the hauntingly poppy “She” by Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean. On “Falling” Jamee bears her scarred soul, doing her best homage to Lauren Hill and the Fugees, and the closing track “Militia” featuring Sonko closes the album on a lingering note, looking forward to the future fight still ahead.
Toys In The Attic is one of the most interesting and original hip hop albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a while, deftly sidestepping trends without reaching back into the well of the past for more than what is needed. Jamee’s myriad of influences shine through her unique voice like a stained glass window composed of salvaged bottles and vases. If you’re a fan of weird, forward thinking hip hop that’s smart without trying too hard to appear as such, honest and without pretension, then definitely check out Jamee Cornelia and Toys In The Attic.