Every land is a beach, every man is an elephant. Bow down to the sounds of the Elephant Beach, the newest project between Chicago native Thaione Davis and Swiss beatmaker J Sayne. An album made in the midst of the European-American collabo trend that started off for real with the Foreign Exchange album. When we heard the news of this project, we immediately thought of that other Swiss-American collabo LP, between The Masked Avengers and Maylay Sparks. But where the Avengers pledged allegiance to the Boombap, J Sayne takes it on a more breakbeat, jazzy, analytical level, revealing a profound knowledge on how to make music.
Whereas Thaione Davis is known to make great beats also (comparable to J Sayne), the Chi resident takes care of the lyrical side of things, recounting accurate tales of ghetto life, how to escape it and the right to just feel good. 'We celebratin cause tonight we allowed', he chants in 'The Feelgood', a hedonic song about enjoying music, 'scopin honeys' and havin a good time, backed by a Marvin Gaye loop. 'It feels good to say black is beautiful, fuck it, all colour, if you gotta little soul you suitable', Thai raps bravely. No doubt this is the 'Today Was A Good Day' of this album. Actually, this track acts as a beach in a sea of harsh realism, because the main atmosphere of the album is rather sober, melancholic and critical. 'Years Go Faster' deals with a primadonna who commits suicide 'Pleased with pain, her suffering grows, blood flows down the drain and escapes her soul’, 'The Gathering (Reprise)' is a monologue on the struggle of the ghetto over an aching accordean beat, and the impresssive, raw, piano-stabbed 'Ghetto Children' features an excellent Element Scripture; 'They put crack in the hood, they figured they were killas but we went and made millions, when we flipped it on them niggus, they couldn't fit us in the picture'. In the same vein goes the aggressive 'Stampede (Memoirs Of Nat Turner)', 'my only opportunity was hustle or be poor' with a horroresque beat, slammin drums and Thaione rappin with anger in his veins.
As the title predicts, the key word to 'Elephant Beach' is escape. Escape from the hood, escape from everyday life, escape from an isle, beach or ghetto. Thaione’s social criticism by means of descriptive stories or cinematographic concepts (check 'Director’s Cut') and his dirty Chicago accent cover up his shortages in flow and cadence more than enough, while J Sayne has managed to create a fest to the ear through the gathering of funk loops, chopped up jazz instruments woven onto laid-back, sometimes dark ('Ghetto Children') to soulful ('Satisfaction'), even Caribbean ('Save It') rhythms and arrangements. An album that grows after a few listenings, eventually turnin into a must for people who dig that authentic, cratedigger production and passionate, activist lyrics. Every land is a beach, every man is an elephant. Bow down to the sounds of the Elephant Beach.