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By : Shamus Hill

5 min read

If you’ve been keeping up with the music scene in Massachusetts, then you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with the state’s homegrown collective known as Van Buren Records. In years past, their reputation has derived from their group status, with projects like ‘Black Wall Street’ and ‘Bad for Press’ existing at the forefront of listeners’ minds. These days, the members of the Brockton-based coalition are moving down their own unique lanes, though they’re still very much operating as a unit. Some of the solo releases in recent memory are Luke Bar$’ ‘Angels Never Die’, ET’s ‘#ET’, and Meech’s ‘28’, all of which are some of the most exceptional pieces of work that the state has seen this year. One member of the group who’s been relatively quiet up until recently is Jiles. Revered for his ability to repackage the things he’s witnessed and experienced in life and deliver them with a special aura of rawness that transports the listener into the core of his raps, Jiles’ blend of Rap music is unparalleled. After several years had passed without him releasing a full-length body of work, the drought has finally come to an end. Last month, he teamed up with Massachusetts Producer Vinyl Villain to deliver a noteworthy album titled ‘Mookie Blaylock’.

A 16-song offering, this project is one that stands tall against a large number of Rap albums that have been released in recent memory. From beginning to end, both Jiles and Vinyl Villain bring out the best in one another, as Vinyl Villain curates a stellar collection of soundscapes for the Brockton rapper to carve into hearty, well-enamored pieces of work. The phrase “restoring the feeling” is one that’s thrown around a lot, but that’s exactly what Jiles and Vinyl Villain accomplish here. ‘Mookie Blaylock’ is “real rap” at its core, and the collage of ubiquitous throwback sports references, anecdotal verses, and cinematic aural environments cement this body of work as one that won’t be lost on listeners anytime soon. Featured across this album are fellow rap talents Dun Dealy, Big Super, maari, Wahid, FELIX!, and Swizzy, all of whom contribute graciously to the unique nature of this project.

There are many standout singles that are prevalent throughout ‘Mookie Blaylock’, some of which include “Sauce Gardner”, “Feed The Rebel Records”, and “10pc”. “Sauce Gardner” starts off with an otherworldly sample that quickly shifts into a guttural, head-knocking instrumental. Jiles attacks this beat with an intense ferocity, and grabs hold of the 80 second runtime of this song with an onslaught of raps. “Feed The Rebel Records” takes name from the featured artists, Dun Dealy of Feed The Family and Big Super from Rebel Mafia Global. Both originally from Boston, “Feed The Rebel Records” is a gleaming example of the Hip-Hop prowess that exists in the Bay State. “10pc” was one of the two singles to be released off of ‘Mookie Blaylock’, and rightfully so, as this song is perhaps the best microcosm for what the entire project consists of. Equipped with an ominous, almost menacing sounding beat, “10pc” establishes Jiles as a prominent MC with a knack for reflecting on life in his raps. There’s an innate quality to his verses, as sharing his perspective on life over song is something that comes incredibly natural to him. At its core, ‘Mookie Blaylock’ is a method for communicating experience, and is a body of work that ultimately grows into a pillar of light within Jiles’ discography. If you’re looking for your new favorite rap project, then look no further.

—Shamus Hill

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #162 October 2023


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