In any music scene there’s always been artists who push themselves to be different from anyone else. Juss B is one of those artists within the 140 bass music scene. I’ve been following and playing his music for about 6 years now and he never fails to impress with his forward thinking productions. So when I caught word of him bringing out an album on the respected Uprise Audio label, expectations were high. The album is a skilfully balanced combination of melodic sound design, heavy hitting percussion and raw hip hop vocal samples. All this tied together by weighty basslines which are perfectly mixed into the tracks in true Juss B fashion.
Kicking off with the title track “Blow My Smoke”, Juss B delivers a mesmerising intro track which sets the mood for the entire album. A melody of stabs and pads lead the listener into a slightly unexpected sub-heavy drop causing the other elements to echo through your head while a dark reese takes over the sound waves. Bells and a repetitive vocal sample add to the drive and mood of this absolute monster of a track. Percussion heavy “Dime” guides us into a more dance floor oriented production. Raw synth stabs layered with a ominous reese melody build up until a 808 low end pushes through and adds enough energy to make any dance pop off. Being extremely well mixed down for a track with so many different elements, “Dime” shows us Juss B’s technical skills along with his ability to create energy.
80’s inspired synths mark the start of “Hater Blockers”, showing Juss B’s diversity as an artist. The light mood of the intro get’s switched up when a raw vocal sample drops in, accompanied by a ruthless subline. This switch up continuous throughout the track until eventually they merge together into a melodic, yet merciless beat. Giving the listener a slight breather, “Boom Mentality”s dreamy reverb infused intro and metallic drums creates a feeling of other worldly scene’s. A flute hook further sets this mood and draws the listener into a meditative state of mind. Another dance floor stepper, “Grand Hustle” is a complex head nodder that packs a punch. Though rich in botch sample diversity, as percussion patterns I feel it misses some of the emotion present in the other tracks. A track rather to be listened to as a showcase of Juss B’s technical skill rather than the hypnotising atmospheres present in the rest of the album.
Repeating vocal samples being a constant in this album, “Lit” starts off with a looped eastern vocal chant while organic kicks keep the rhythm constant. Lush pads provide us with melodies which make the listener drift away. Slowly adding more details and vocal shots Juss B masterfully uses panning to make the mix sound full but not overwhelming at the same time. Going straight back into these said hypnotising melodies. Juss B delivers once again with the reese driven “Starry Eyes”. Sweeping vocal samples and reverb synth stabs draw us into the track before a subtle percussion pattern sets the pace. The by now well known hip hop vocal element once again delivers that raw element. Every hit fitting perfectly in between the other samples making “Starry Eyes” one of my personal favourites.
Sounding like a mix between Juss B’s earlier dubstep influences and the current wave infused music, “Drop Dat” is a showcase of his attention to detail. Although a skilfully engineered piece of music, I feel like the mix between the elements, more specifically the midrange bassline and the wave stabs, doesn’t always work as it should. Collaborating with one of my all time favourite artists in recent bass music, Just B delivers an absolute monster of a track alongside Uprise Audio family member Feonix. “Stand Up” combines all previously encountered elements found in this album and gives them a dark, gritty edge. Dark drones mark the start of “Stand Up”, while a distorted vocal creeps in to further draw us into this grim atmosphere. Reese midranges, distorted vocals and the occasional reversed percussion hits make this track an absolute dance floor destroyer, and my personal favourite off Juss B’s debut album.
The send off, “From A Distance” finally goes to show Juss B’s diversity as an artist for one final time. A vocal sample sounds almost like an arp, while other repetitive female chants create a melody. Wave type synths hits make us reminisce over the album while 808 kicks still pack that well known Juss B low end punch. A worthy ender for an incredible journey of an album.
Blow My Smoke LP is out now and available from Beatport and Juno Download. Blow My Smoke / Dime appear on UALPS008 and available from Redeye, White Peach, Juno, Intense Records and the Uprise Audio Store.