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Album: Shining in Darkness (Unreleased)
Producer: The Mekanix
Oakland's J. Stalin has come a long way since being mis-credited as "J Stylin'" on the track listing of The Jacka's The Jack Artist album in 2005, when he appeared on its opening cut "Never Blink." Unfortunate typo aside, The Jack Artist was the perfect album to introduce him to the world at large since the house that Jacka built—melancholy thug raps over a consolidation of soul samples and squelching mob music basslines—has proven to be the ideal foundation for Stalin to build upon.
It's a blueprint which worked a treat for Stalin on his Gas Nation (2008) and Prenuptial Agreement (2010) albums, but over the past couple of years he's tended to make his best music when deviating from The Jack Artist formula to flirt with Ratchet club music. 2012's "The Molly Song" with L.A's Problem sounded closer to E40 & co's "Function" than post-Jacka Bay Area gangsta-rap, and today's deep cut sees Stalin and his go-to producers The Makanix fully embracing the melodic snappiness of IamSu & his HBK Gang chums with a little help from an Oakland veteran who can seemingly turn his hand to any passing trend: Too $hort.
Is it a blatant attempt at Ratchet bandwagon hopping? Perhaps, but who cares when the song has inspired Stalin to sound fresher than he has in a couple of years and it includes a frankly eviscerating cameo verse from Too $hort?