EP Review | JL – Digital Kongo, Phase 1

This extended play was released on April 12th this year. I think a lot of the Strange Music artists are releasing promotional EPs before dropping full albums this year. It’s kinda like what Kevin Abstract did with his latest album. The main difference here is that the actual artwork for all of the Strange Music projects are terrible. I didn’t even notice this until just now, but pretty much every album cover I’ve seen for a Strange Music project is awful. They need to work on that. Anyway, as I said, I’m pretty sure every track on this EP is gonna end up on an album by JL called Digital Kongo. That’s what happened with Ubiquitous’ Under Bad Influence project. I checked out that Set in Stone EP that Stevie Stone dropped. It was pretty mediocre. I also listened to the first Old Habits Die Hard EP that Joey Cool dropped, which wasn’t good either. It was better than the Stevie Stone EP though. Anyway, based on all the other Strange Music extended plays that I’ve heard so far, I’m keeping my expectations low. I haven’t heard all of them to be fair. However, I’ve listened to new EPs from Ubiquitous, Stevie Stone, and Joey Cool, and I’ve only really enjoyed the Ubiquitous ones so far. I don’t think this one from JL will be trash though. Usually whenever I hear JL rap he ends up really impressing me, so hopefully that’s the case with this project as well. I’ve never actually listened to a song of his. I think I’ll enjoy this to some extent. However, if I somehow end up completely hating this, and I don’t like even a single track, then I probably won’t bother listening to his eventual album.

1. Power Trip produced by Seven

The beat on this track is pretty cool. Damn. Alright, JL killed that first verse. His flow was pretty nice. The lyrics weren’t super impressive or anything, but they weren’t as trash as current day Logic’s bars are. His pronunciation of the word “address” at the end of the verse was funny to me. He stretched it out to three syllables by saying “a-jurr-ess.” The hook is very simplistic, but it works. It’s way better than the average Tech N9ne hook. The second verse was just as great, if not better than the first one. Okay, this is really good. I think I’m gonna like this project. I don’t really have any gripes with this song. Nothing about it really stood out as being amazing or anything, but I definitely like the song a lot. This shit is dope.

2. Tokyo Drift produced by Seven

The beat on this track is cool. If you’ve heard Seven’s Trap beats before, you pretty much know what to expect with this one and the previous track as well. It’s good though. This first verse from JL is really great. His flow is dope, and the rhyme schemes are really impressive. I wish the lyrics were online. I mean, they are on Genius, but I’m almost positive that they’re inaccurate. I don’t think the hook on this song is as good as that of the previous track, but it’s decent. His flow on the second verse was really nice. I feel like the hook on this track lasts a little too long. He performs it twice in a row every time. He probably could’ve just done it once. The song feels pretty long, but it’s only three and a half minutes. I like it though. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the previous track, but I definitely enjoyed it. JL’s flow and rhyme schemes are really the main reason I like this song. The production is a little generic to be honest, and the hook is nothing special. The lyrics also don’t really stand out very much. I liked the lines about him not knowing what “turn the other cheek” means though. Overall, I like this track. It’s pretty good.

3. For the Birds (Ra Ra) produced by Derek Anderson

I like the beat on this track. This is probably my favorite beat on the whole project so far to be honest. The first verse was pretty good. Once again, his flow was very precise. The content of this song isn’t super interesting to me, but it’s fine I guess. He’s basically rapping about people being disingenuous and not saying what they really mean. The hook actually sounds pretty good. I thought him saying “ra ra ra ra” would be corny as hell, but it doesn’t even bother me. The second verse was dope too. This is another good track. Once again, nothing about it really blows me away. I don’t have any issues with it though. I like the beat, the hook sounds pretty good, and his flow on both of the verses was nice. This shit is dope.

4. No Smoke featuring Suli4Q produced by Suli4Q

I have no idea who this Suli4Q person is, or how their name is even pronounced. Oh, never mind. I just found his Genius page. It’s just pronounced like “Suli.” The 4Q part stands for “4th Quarter.” He’s a Kansas City rapper who has contributed to Tech N9ne’s recent work. That’s cool. Anyway, this song easily has the best hook on the whole project. I feel like Suli4Q isn’t really gonna impress anyone with his singing, but at the same time, I really like the way he sounds singing this hook. Honestly, this sounds like it could be a hit. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I have no idea what makes a hit these days. It’s rare for hit songs to have people rapping this well on them. The hook is really catchy though, and it’s accessible. I could see mainstream listeners getting into this. This production from Suli4Q is really good too. The first verse from JL is really great. His flow was impressive, as always. As you can probably guess from the title, this is the most gangsta track on the project. It’s all about how “niggas don’t want smoke.” This shit is hard. The second verse was even better than the first one. Honestly, this song is fucking awesome. There’s not a single aspect of it that I don’t like. The beat’s great, I love the hook, and JL’s flow on the verses is fantastic. This shit is dope af.

This EP is actually pretty great. I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s way better than I was expecting it to be. There’s not a single track here that I didn’t like. The production was pretty standard for the most part. The only beat that stood out that much to me was the final one from Suli4Q, but it’s not like it’s an amazing beat or anything. It was just better than the rest. The main selling point for me is JL’s flow. He just sounds really great whenever he’s rapping. Honestly, I feel like JL is what Tech N9ne would sound like if he made good music. The way he flows is very similar. The main difference is that he doesn’t have super corny song concepts and terrible hooks. The hooks on this project were pretty good. I guess one thing I would appreciate is more introspection, but I’m not super familiar with JL, so I’m not sure if he can pull that off. This project makes it sound like he’s just focused on making energetic party music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He does it pretty well. So yeah. Overall, I really enjoyed this EP. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: No Smoke
Least Favorite Song: Tokyo Drift


Grade: B+

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