Who is Jill Scott? Well, she's quite good, whatever...
Hailed by certain tastemakers as "the hip-hop Patti Smith”, Jill Scott is a
young African-American street poet that broke through last year with her
debut full-lengther, ‘Who Is Jill Scott?’. Some would probably describe it as
"a mature blend” of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop – that way, you see, it sounds
just perfect for the coffee table. But Jill Scott deserves a fairer billing
than that, and the reason why is writ large on the weightily-titled – funky
drum-roll please! – ‘Experience: Jill Scott’.
Essentially a live album, ‘Experience…’ finds Scott fronting a full,
organic live band of musicians, in performances recorded in Philadelphia and
Washington DC earlier this year. Sounds a thriller, eh? But look beyond the
spasm-inducing bass solos to Scott herself: a frequently magnetic performer, with a certain brave, defiant spirit that her peers lack. It’s much in evidence on the assured ‘One Is The Magic Number’ and on ‘Thickness’ – an
eloquent, poetic, educative tract about youth, exploitation, and sexuality.
A handful of new studio recordings feature lukewarm, slick guest appearances
from 4Hero and Common. Skip ’em. It’s only when Jill Scott‘s purr becomes a
growl that ‘Experience…’ really fulfils its promise.
The hip-hop Patti
Smith? Not yet, but here’s hoping.