Album Review/Stream: Dag Savage (Exile And Johaz)- E&J

Posted: February 17, 2014 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , , , ,

So many emcees live out their careers with their potential unfulfilled due to never finding the right yin to their yang on the production side of things. This is more so common in today’s hip-hop climate due to the fact that so many producers skip around from one artist to the next in a rush to simply make a beat, receive the paycheck, then move on to the next request. Fortunately, there are some veteran producers out there who are sticking to the traditional format of 1 rapper/1 producer for the entirety of an album. This usually results in the creation of cohesive music, and that is exactly what we have here from this West Coast duo of Exile and Johaz. Exile has made a name for himself over the years due to his exceptional skill of tailor-making projects that bring out the best in the rapper he is working with. This was exemplified in previous albums such as Blu’s Below The Heavens and Fashawn’s Boy Meets World as both projects are considered as standout material from each artist. A similar success story has taken place here as Exile has teamed up with Dirty Science member Johaz for this E&J album, a body of work that may surprise listeners due to its unfiltered honesty and eclectic consistency. 

Before we get into the wicked production of Exile, it is essential to properly introduce the somewhat unknown San Diego rapper/singer Johaz. While Johaz may not have the same underground popularity as other people in the Dirty Science crew (Fashawn, Aloe Blacc, Blu), E&J proves to be a coming out party for Johaz who lays everything out on the table for the listeners. Johaz’s hunger and natural talent is revealed on the album as he passionately raps about his personal struggles as well as society’s greater ills. The bar is raised high right off the bat on the intro “The Beginning” in which Johaz immediately showcases his raw intimate style as he raps about everything from the George Zimmerman trial to holy wars in the Middle East. While it would be unfair to Johaz to label him as a purely “conscious rapper”, he is certainly proactive in stating his opinions on the greater injustices that plague our world. Johaz reveals his life’s harsh realties early on in the LP and gets extremely personal on “Old Times Sake”, where he provides an introspective memoir on all of the hardships he had to go through on his quest to break through in hip-hop. While his moments of detailed self-reflection are striking, it is not the only quality that makes Johaz stand out as he also speaks on the parallels of slavey and today’s black youth (“Twilight”), as well as less heavy concepts such as odes to romance (“Wine and Cheese”). Johaz’s high level of versatility gives E&J a multifaceted identity and keeps the listener on edge as to what they will hear next.

While Johaz is the star of the show on E&J in terms of being its headliner, he does bring along some noteworthy guests who further strengthen the LP as a balanced body of work. Album single “Don’t Stop” features a noteworthy verse from Blu, who is no stranger to the production of fellow collaborator Exile. California is fully represented on standout tracks like the thoughtfully mindful posse cut “Cali Dreamin” and the smooth soulful tone of records such as “Drugs” and “Van Gough”. All of the Dirty Science members are easily able to stay in tune with the Dag Savage sound and that gives even more meaning to Johaz’s substantial verses.

What brings E&J over the edge as a top notch release is the expectedly fantastic production from Exile. From the obscurely chopped samples to the nicely blended-in scratches, Exile shows off his skills on this project and does so on behalf of Johaz. A more darker than typical mood is embodied in the production when you compare it to other Exile projects such as Fashawn’s Boy Meets World, and the sound fully compliments the sentiments of Johaz’s powerfully soul-revealing lyrics. The warped instrumentals are influenced by a varied dose of electronic, funk, and jazz sounds that mesh nicely with the hard drums that we are accustomed to hearing from Exile. The layered production of one of Cali’s finest producers gives Johaz the proper platform to passionately tell his story. With the ability to both sing and skillfully flow over the advanced beats, Johaz proves himself as worthy of standing right next to Blu and Fashawn as an artist who used the expertise of Exile to create a phenomenal debut album. As Dag Savage, the duo present an undeniable chemistry on E&J as Exile’s beats flawlessly captured the atmosphere of Johaz’s purposeful rhymes. This album is one that will stand the test of time for the young rising artist as E&J could not provide a more strong foundation for Johaz to build off of.

Album Rating: 4 out of 5

  1. […] We recently wrote a raving review of Dag Savage’s album E&J, a body of work that caught us off guard with Johaz’s exceptionally delivered lyrics fitting perfectly with the always outstanding production from Exile. One of the top strengths of the album comes from Johaz’s heartfelt honesty on the mic, and one of the most personal records on the project that displays this is “Old Times Sake”. As luck would have it, Dag Savage have released the music video for the track and it lives up to the overall quality of the song. If you are looking for a place to start when it comes to this E&J album, the visuals for “Old Times Sake” could not be a better choice.  […]

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