Jake Haze, 1985 plays like a season of Narcos. As a matter of fact, “Narcos lifestyle” is quite literally mentioned on the intro, “PanAm Flights“. Four or so bars into the aforementioned track, we have an MS-13 reference. You can see where this is going.
It’s not exactly what you may think, though. Jake Haze and his myriad of guest vocalists (way too many) are shedding light on Honduras‘ history in drug trade and political wrongdoings. The latter still going strong to this day. This is partly carried out by DenvaRich, in interlude form.
Hard to tell, upon first listen, if Allentown, PA’s Jake Haze and his cohorts are embodying the spirit of those who would carry out such actions, or if 1985 is semi-autobiographical.
“The Come Up” is the perfect example of this portrayal. This anecdote is as detailed as a novel. A rags to riches, Scarface-esque tale: “Had to make my own connections, more Montana than Manola/Had to look over my shoulder” he spits as he breaks down the rise from obscurity to full-flegde boss.
It’s important to note that the production is the entrance into this high-risk, action-driven world JKHZ has created. Every track’s instrumental is as complimentary to the actual content tighter than O.J’s glove. You’ve never heard anything quite like this. Perfect.
One drawback is the mixing. It’s actually not that bad, but someone hit went to sleep while turning the reverb knob. There’s so much reverb on these tracks, it makes Pop sound Underground. Maybe this is an artistic choice, as it does match the dream-tale theme but it is distracting and something to get used to, to say the least.
Moving forward, “American Dreams” is a pivotal track in understanding Jake Haze’s POV. He, Garcia Vega & A.M. Rise take a trip down memory lane, spewing their earliest memories in the ” ancient whore of Babylon“, the U.S. of A.
“Gringo’s see me trippin, and they see me as a Cholo” vocalized on “Cholo“, is another gem for perspective.
The potential single, “Run and Hide“, is the most flat-out soulful here, with its soul-sample vibe and sultry background vocals. It’s possibly also the most vivid storytelling on the album, “can’t show weakness when I’m on the run/automatic guns, counterfeited ones“… whew.
This exact angle has never been taken in Hip-Hop. It’s the “brown” version of Refugee Camp All-Stars. Heritage has barely ever played such a big role in the soundscape, viewpoint and positioning in a rap album. It’s fresh, to say the least.