August 21, 2007

J-Zone - Music For Tu Madre (1998 or 1999???)

J-Zone, real name Jeremiah Zonisteinberg, is an underground-but-should-be-better-known producer and CEO of his own company, Old Maid Entertainment. He hails from New York, but the majority of his fan base resides in Europe, which means he spends more time overseas touring his albums than here in the States. This is just more proof that American hip-hop fans often support the wrong artists.

Music For Tu Madre , his first album, was released to very little acclaim, as it was never actually intended for anybody's ears. You see, the album was his thesis for graduating from college. As it is, it's one of the best term papers I've ever heard in my life, and he must have gotten a lot of praise from his professors, as he later released it to the public. He uses his humorous lyrics (that sounds too formal; they're actually fucking hysterical) and incredibly creative, offbeat samples (sort of like a broke Prince Paul, but that's still some great company to be in) to open up a discussion on the state of hip hop at the time, either 1998 or 1999 (I can't locate anywhere the exact date this was originally released.)

Other than the fact that he has an appreciation for ignorant rap music and basketball, and the fact that he loves his grandmother (that's her reaching for the bottle on the album cover), Zone info is pretty hard to come across, which is for the better, anyway. No need for that messy personal stuff to get in the way of your musical talents. After reading the review, be sure to check out his official website at for more information on his various projects.

(Yeah, I know I'm tempting fate by placing the hyperlink before the actual write-up. I'll take my chances.)


The saddest part about this introductory track is that the radio actually sounds worse today than it used to in 98-99. That excerpt of "I sell crack/And I know how to rap/From the projects/And I love to bust caps" could be taken from damn near any artist's debut record from 2007. Does this make Zone a prophet? No, it just makes him very fucking observant.

The actual rap album intro. It's just a skit comprised of random vocal samples.

Zone isn't the best rapper in the world, but his flow is a nice change of pace from all of the shouting and repetition heard on the radio these days. As the first real song presented here, it sounds pretty good.

This is just funny. Misogynistic, sure, but given the subject matter, Zone and Shid have a point.

I have no clue who Kobayashi and Trip are, but Huggy Bear (The Great White Hope) sounds like the yin to J-Zone's yang. Which would make Al-Shid, I don't know, the dash between yin and yang? Whatever. This beat makes you stand up and take notice of Zone's production prowess; he's one of the best for a reason.


This is the weakest track here. I'm not saying it's out of place, but it may have looked better in the garbage disposal than in the album's sequencing.


Where do you see hip hop in five years? Consider the answers given to Zone's survey in this prelude, and then look at today's rap "stars". The responses given here are optimistic compared to today's reality. It almost makes me want to give up and grab my Depeche Mode and New Order albums and start writing about how New Wave Isn't Dead. Almost.

10. 5 YEARS
Yeah, it sounds very dated, but the points made in this satirical song are still valid today. Rappers still talk about money and what they drink and what they wear and all the bitches they've fucked or will fuck; they just don't drink Cristal anymore.

Al-Shid's solo showcase. People, this is how a punchline rapper should sound. Although Shid actually didn't come into his own until Zone's second album, he still becomes the center of attention like the letter "n".

Great track. Huggy outshines Zone as the guy who can't even get a job rounding up shopping carts after his arrest.

Skit, with a creepy-ass sample at the end, which may sound even freakier while stoned out of your mind.

14. PAIN
Not even a true skit, just a sample, but one that I used to slip into mixtapes just to amuse myself when I was younger. You see, they used to have these things called "audio cassette tapes"...

J-Zone becomes president, and a devilish young man tries to talk him into fixing America by destroying the African American race, in a song which will cause people to compare the track to how minorities are treated (and how they treat themselves) today. Easily the deepest song here, as it approaches a lot of topics that will make you think about society and its ills. Great execution, too.

The DJ track. Lots of obscure-ass samples scratched here. A nice way to end the listening experience.

There are also versions of Music For Tu Madre that include instrumentals for "Candy Razors", "Kizzy's Revenge", S.H.I.D.", and "Catch 22" as tracks 17 through 20.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Music For Tu Madre features poorly mastered tracks, samples that would never survive the clearance process, unpolished rhyming from the star and his cohorts, and an overall sarcastic demeanor regarding the nature of hip hop. In other words, it's really fucking good, even though I believe Zone gets into his, well, zone with his follow up, A Bottle Of Whup Ass. I hadn't heard this album in a while, and it makes me miss the chemistry between J-Zone and the two rappers who would later become the other two Old Maid Billionaires, Al-Shid and Huggy Bear, a/k/a Hug, a/k/a the guy who no longer works with Zone for undisclosed reasons. (I assume it has to do with money, but who knows? Anyone? Feel free to drop a line in the comments.) For a thesis, it's still pretty entertaining, and it tastes good with a smidge of butter.

BUY OR BURN? This is a trick question. Music For Tu Madre is no longer available in its physical form. Hell, even I have a burned copy. It is definitely worth your time, though, so I would recommend going through iTunes (J-Zone has made his entire catalog available there) and burning it, knowing that the money will go to support Zone (and maybe convince him to come out of retirement). If you are able to locate a true CD or vinyl copy of Music For Tu Madre, then you probably should have spent your time trying to hook up with the girl (or guy) of your choice, as that would be a better use of your resources.

BEST TRACKS: "The Zone Mission"; "Candy Razors"; "S.H.I.D."; "Catch 22"; "Inauguration Day"



  1. Being that I was one of the backpack rap fans that heard this LP on vinyl back in late 1998 and was too late to buy a copy on CD in 1999 I really appreciate this review. That pic of his grandma is classic.


  2. this isn't really a comment but I couldn't find an email for you and I wasn't sure if you wanted links to illegally distributed popular(ish) music on your site. So, first up here is the El Michels/Wu Tang stuff I have. I also have the live joint but I believe you have that.
    Grab it here:
    Second, I totally missed the J-Zone train and was in a I hate Hip Hop stage apparently at the wrong time. I'll get back to you on that. Third, do you know anything about All Peers? Me and Mike Dikk were fuking around with it last night and it seemed pretty cool. It's a private p2p plugin for firefox. Just thought you might be interested. Third, I'm interested in your movie work. Got anything to show for it? Fourth, It seems like a total bite now with the 25 best beats list but I was thinking of doing a cross blog post on members of groups that didn't carry the weight in the group lyrically. Cats like Pras, or Vin from Naughty By Nature or any number of extraneous Wu. Sound interesting at all?And Fifth, yours and Dumpin are my favorite blogs on the net and I'm totally on your dicks. Hope everything is good with you.

  3. Upon your recommendation, I downloaded the album from ITunes and I was not disappointed. The production work was kinda tight. Looking forward to the next review.

    Suggestion for the next review:

    Dr. Dre-The Chronic

  4. I got this on vinyl. Zone made it when he was in college, as an assignment I believe. I think the best Zone album is A Bottle of Whup Ass.
    No idea what happened to Hug. Last I heard they were still friends but would no longer collaborate because they were going different directions musically. One of Hug's many nicknames is Thug Penis.

  5. rlstokey - Glad you enjoyed the album. You should also look for the follow up, A Bottle Of Whup Ass, or you can just wait until I write about it. Your call.

    Al - damn shame about Hug, but I guess I'd rather remember him sounding good than what he may sound like now. Speaking of which, I saw that Al SHid and Hug put an EP out last year (think I saw it at Sandbox) - any chance anyone has heard this? is it any good?

  6. again, i agree with you. yeah, hes ignorant, and has a trash mouth. but if you've ever seen an interview with him, hes actually a very soft spoken down to earth cat. all the rappers on the radio could really learn something about "rap personas" from J. he really REALLY is a double threat. lyrics are tight and production equally as tight.

    i can't wait for your next J Zone review. i really do feel he progress' lyrically with each album, and i can't wait to hear you address this.

    props again.


  7. king_e - thanks for reading, and thank you for your comments! I agree on your Zone comments - I always like it when a rapper is actually honest with their opinions, although I'm sure it helps that, since Zone is the CEO of his own label and his records don't sell that well, he probably has never received any 'press training'.

    A Bottle Of Whup Ass is coming up eventually, so be on the lookout!