Out of nowhere, some things in life strike you with more power than ever imagined they would. You remember when Kanye dropped 808s & Heartbreak in 2008 and the music industry as a whole kind of gasped for air, we all lost our breath for a moment. We were taken back, unsure of what this sound meant for us as listeners and for music going forward. Well something similar happened after I listened to Boulevard Blues. New Jeru Natives artists SōULFULL and Ty Jack fused both of their individual sounds beautifully over this five track EP.
The EP begins with “Blues Brothers (Intro)”, which begins with Ty Jack singing about his uphill experience he endures as he evolves into a great R&B singer. It is real and easily pulls you in as an introduction is supposed to. It pulls your focus instantly into the ad-libs in the back chanting “HOMEMADE” before SōULFULL hits the track. He delivers a gritty verse with some dope punchlines that make you rewind and hit play again.
From the first track you can already feel the old-school atmosphere they are trying to create for you. They continue with this kind of sound on the next track, “Truth”, where SōULFULL starts off the track with some conscious storytelling to pull you into a world that may even differ from your own. He captures imagery throughout this track, enough to paint a vivid picture as you close your eyes and just listen. Fragments of the picture he paints start to form in front of your eyes, making for a lasting image. But there is a meaningful transition on this track where Ty Jack shys away from singing and opts to rap his verse instead. He becomes a chameleon here, mentioning rebuilding his hometown and crafting a memorable legacy.
The sound on “Lifestyles” differs as it pulls in a sample from Jerry Butler’s “Whatever Goes Around”. Slightly tweaked, the lyrics still haul you into the 70’s where I can even say, music was music. This track gets you the closest to the Blues feel and it also possesses a melodious sound that just flows eloquently. SōULFULL drops a few more punchlines before Ty hops on it with his own gems to tie into the rest of the song:
“See, watching your back is crucial cuz when you down niggas ain’t around and when you up, niggas swear they knew you.”
This line sticks out, maybe because it is a popular theme in this current generation of music and art, where people seem to care more once your on. But besides the lyrics, this is when I also noticed how well the EP was mastered, leaving out distortion or confusion between divergent sounds.
The EP continues with a smooth transition to an uplifting song, “Rock On”. It speaks to the depths of beauty that women possess and sometimes lose sight of. Tucking it away in the midst of the world’s antics, they pull in this constant struggle into their song and make it enjoyable. I couldn’t help but to kind of rejoice in the build up of Ty Jack’s vocals towards the middle of the track. It is powerful, sending chills through you as it fades off.
They finish Boulevard Blues with a commanding message that is inspirational to say the least. “My Way” starts off with great word from the late Steve Jobs where he discusses life choices and the way to seek self-fulfillment. Even with just an excerpt, as a listener you can tell this was a deeper track than the others. They both flip the script and instead of speaking as themselves, they speak the voices of others who have a major influence on their music, their lives and how they chase their dreams. Both artists found a way to speak this into their music and use it as a positive way to vent and share their experiences with the audience.
I can wholeheartedly say this EP took me through a range of emotions. I felt uplifted, excited, inspired and then some. SōULFULL and Ty Jack tackled this EP like a championship game, where they strategized a way to win you over and to feel them on a deeper level musically. Combining the sounds of a soulful singer and a gritty rapper over five tracks isn’t for the weak or unprepared, it’s for them. This is for them and it was well executed. Just check it out.