Elujay & J.Robb’s “GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE” an Impressive, Timeless Effort [Album Review]

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With elements of R&B, soul, hip-hop, and lo-fi, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE might be the most widely likable album we’ve written about in this newsletter thus far. With Elujay’s baby-powder vocals and J.Robb’s funky basslines and futuristic styles, this album is one of 2020’s best and a strong introduction to each artist. 

Released Dec. 3, the album flew under the radar for many — but not for longtime fans of SOULECTION, a producer-driven label with a roster deeper than the 2019 Washington Nationals.

J.Robb, a longtime SOULECTION standout, has been putting out some of the most innovative hip-hop and R&B production over the past half decade. With two installments of Monetary Purposes under his belt, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE does well to build on what are largely instrumental efforts. 

The addition of Elujay’s soulful vocals is helpful to hook listeners that can’t be bothered by the game’s best instrumentals. And Elujay’s been building important work in his own right, with a pair of impressive albums Adojio and Jentrify and notable collaborators including Saba and Still Woozy.

That said, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE eclipses any project these artists created solo. The floating melodies and cheeky lyrics of “SWING THRU” give way to heavenly vocals from J.Robb’s Play Nice friend, Zilo, on “WASTING MY TIME.”

Part of what makes the album so easily replayable is its sequencing —there are no big jumps in mood or BPM that could fuck with the album’s effortless flow. The album’s caboose is “LADY,” traced by a high-pitched vocal sample and plenty of ornaments, most notably rhythmic bed frame-creaking sounds that go perfectly with Kyle Dion’s romantic lyrics: “Steamy like a wet towel, wet, soaky / Ain’t talkin’ ’bout your shower head (Talkin’ ’bout your shower head) / Talking ’bout when you are all up in my bed.”

This album proves Elujay & J.Robb are some of the most exciting musicians out of the uber-talented SOULECTION label, so be sure to stay tuned for future works past this one.

GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE should be your go-to album when you’re telling friends about how this newsletter is consistent with providing interesting, ear-opening music. Use it as a reason to stay tuned to Elujay and J.Robb as much as you do with Hummingbird 😉

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