Review – The Co-Op

The Co-Op

By Kristine Volovsek

In this modern foodie age, when one hears about a “co-op” they probably immediately think about grocery stores and places like The Wedge. I was ecstatic to find out that these guys weren’t rapping about quinoa and kale. JessListen and Tek are The Co-Op and at the end of 2012 they released their self-titled debut album.

Though they attended the same high school at slightly different times, I think both Tek and JessListen (Jesse) may have gotten a start in music production from taking the same Audio Tech class. Through getting beats from him, Jesse started building a relationship with Tek until one day in the summer of 2011 Tek straight-up asked him if he would like to make songs together. Jesse thought Tek should rap more and that their styles complimented each other well – so of course it was a great idea. That summer and fall they worked diligently every day (in JessListen’s own studio) and made over 30 songs – 18 of which are included on this album. Local rapper Meta is also featured in 3 of the tracks.

“The Truth” starts off the album with a huge sound. “In the Sky” is super chill and flows like a lazy river at the waterpark. I found Tek’s cleverly dropped Ricki Lake and C3PO references amusing. “The Answer” is my favorite track on the album. Every time I listen to it I get caught up in the horns and the piano. When I finally listened to the lyrics, I wondered if maybe JessListen has a little crush on Beyonce? (“Girl, you’re a queen, everybody bow down… Now, what’s your mind on lady? Mine’s on your curves ‘cause you drive me crazy… In love like Beyonce and Jay Z.”) Who doesn’t have a crush on her, though? But this song came out first, so the ‘bow down’ thing is just a humorous lyrical coincidence.

“You Are” is a bit of a love song laced with admiration for a beautiful woman. Track 9, “Walk Away,” is the most emotional song on this album – breakups are conflicting and painful for both parties involved. “Fly so High” is definitely an ode to weed with a sweet beat. I dig the 90’s R & B feel in “Drop Top Music” and I love the rhymes in “Epic.” I’m pretty sure my heart melts a little each time I hear the outro on Track 16. “.. and as long as I live I will sing my song for you..” Honestly, that probably sums up the album and The Co-Op’s intentions right there.

“Elevator Music” could be such a dope track but the airhorn and all of the clapping kill this song for me. Is there a basketball game inside the elevator? I really like the other horns though, and I bet this song would be super chill and groovy stripped of those sounds. “Twisted Fantasy” is my second favorite track and, unfortunately, ends the album. The Co-Op sampled a small portion of one of my favorite Portishead songs, “Over,” throughout and not only is it well mixed in, but it’s perfectly placed because “Over” is also about a twisted fantasy of sorts.

Though I don’t think this would be Gloria Steinem’s favorite hip-hop album, I think “The Co-Op” was well thought-out and produced with fun, catchy beats and diverse samples. With 18 tracks, there’s definitely a lot on this album. You can tell that a lot of time and creative energy went into making the final product; it wasn’t rushed like other albums tend to be. The lyrics are cleverly written, flow well, and sound cool but I think they could benefit from going a little deeper. “Walk Away” is a step in that direction. I feel like a lot of these songs could be easily swapped in for jams at the club, and no one would think twice about it – this album verges on that pop-rap-hip-hop sound, but there’s something more to it. Plus the art on it is just cool. It has an urban graffiti, 90’s-street-art-esque feel to it and was co-designed by JessListen and his mother.

JessListen’s new soon-to-be-titled album will be released sometime in the future, and will include Mike the Martyr and Franz Diego. Tek is, uh, busy at the moment but as soon as he’s free, you can expect to hear from him too. Overall, The Co-Op has the skills and the talent and I’m excited to hear them both grow and evolve as artists.

Listen to The Co-Op here: http://the-co-op.bandcamp.com/

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