August 1, 2017
Born and raised in Charlotte, Elevator Jay represents his hometown with pride in his latest album, Ain’t Nothin’ Finer. The rapper, producer and singer invites you into his life, literally, on the album’s intro. After showing his Southern hospitality, he proceeds to spend the next eleven tracks taking you through a glimpse into “how [he] lives and where [he’s] from,” as said on the Odd Room Chats Podcast.
Pretty much every song makes references to various locations in Charlotte, from listing off several streets in the city during the title track, to referencing his monthly Snug Harbor event, Player Made, in “When You Win.” You get to drive around with Jay throughout the Queen City, whether it’s stopping to get chicken and gas, finding a party, or taking a trip to the river to relax.
Ain’t Nothin’ Finer just feels good. The tracks feel bright and sunny, the choruses are packed with hooks, and the lyrics are optimistic and carefree. There are instrumentalists whose contributions add a lot of color to the tracks. D’Jawun “DJ” Diggs plays the guitar, including a really tasteful, laid-back solo on “Going Up.” The bass is handled by Chabra “CJ” Mercer and drives the energy of the album. Anthony Bowers and Harvey Cummings play the keys, and Cummings also plays the sax. The musicians all meld together really well with Elevator Jay’s rapping and production; it sounds like one cohesive unit.
The album fits nicely into the Southern rap canon, sounding reminiscent of Outkast at times. “On Lock” (co-produced by Harvey Cummings) is the closest that we get to trap music on the album, starting with some harsh synth strings before the beat drops in and takes over. The next track, “Ketchup” would be at home on an Ab-Soul album with its bouncy beat, haunting chords, back-up vocals and combination of rapping and singing. “Ketchup” has some of the best harmonies on the album, and an excellent balance between the noodling guitar and the vocal melodies.
Elevator Jay’s verses are really strong and he proves himself to be a more than adept singer as he handles all of the choruses as well. However, you may wonder if the album could get even more out of the tracks with additional collaborations. He’s assembled a talented group of musicians and producers to create some truly remarkable songs.
Ain’t Nothin’ Finer is an ideal record to soundtrack your drive during one of North Carolina’s unforgivingly hot summer afternoons. It’s full of tracks that are ideal for block parties and barbecues with some more fitting for just a relaxed mood. Elevator Jay seems to be on the verge of prominence, and we can only expect that his tracks will continue to resonate with North Carolina music enthusiasts as he continues to release exceptional music and gain popularity as time goes on.