Arts Desk

Jon Laine’s GIANT is All About The Beats

Released in 1998, Soul Survivor was the grand coronation of producer Pete Rock's already-stellar career, a large-scale album equally celebrated for its imposing instrumentals and heavyweight guest list (the Wu-Tang Clan, Black Thought of The Roots, and Common all had verses on the project). Yet despite the star-studded cast, Pete was the clear centerpiece, as his beats banged louder than the MCs on them.

On his new album out today, Jon Laine says he wanted the same thing. GIANT finds the Northern Virginia drummer taking center stage over a formidable collection of local hip-hop elite, including X.O., Kev Brown, Oddisee and Kaimbr, among many others. "I just wanted the best of the best," Laine says of his new album. "I wanted the top MCs, and singers that people know and don't know. I wanted the beats to hit you in the face."

Maybe that's why certain songs, especially those with notable guests, are mixed louder than those with lesser known talent. On "gimmeSomethin'," for instance, the track is a riotous mixture of strident boom bap and record scratches, and I could barely hear Oddisee's and Heron Gibran's vocals. "Kragenoff," and the unrelenting funk of its instrumental, takes precedence over rappers Kev Brown and Ken Starr.

Elsewhere, "soitGoes," featuring singer Danielle Wertz, is much quieter and allows her to shine through the electro-soul sound. "connected," with its overwhelming West Coast vibe, is given an East Coast kick with a decent showing from rapper E Major. Overall, GIANT stands firm as an atmospheric collection of hip-hop, R & B, and dusty soul rhythms, a culmination for Laine as a multidimensional effort with plenty of Chocolate City soul.

Go here to purchase the album.

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