Summer is officially over on the calendar, but in San Diego, summer doesn't really end for awhile. As I type this, the sun is beaming outside, bouncing off the leaves of the bushes and slipping through the blinds of my window. J. Blow, producer and DJ from the Fam Royal crew, released the Summer EP at the end of the summer, seemingly to capture the feeling of summer and prolong it through sound waves for just a little while longer.
To accomplish his goal, J. Blow has enlisted the help of Fam Royal's extended, uh, family of artists, including Broken Dreams, Brother Nature, Piff Herrera and Parker Edison (of Parker & the Numberman). The production J. Blow provides them with is pretty much what you'd expect from a project paying tribute to summer. Soul samples abound, wrapped in a blanket of beautiful strings and keys, creating a warm haze to canvas summertime nostalgia.
What surprises me is the strong showing from the two members of Brother Nature -- Real J. Wallace and Bam Circa 86 -- who both perform solo songs on Summer. “Summer Days” finds Real J. at a crossroads. He’s arrived at that coming-of-age moment and he knows it, so he looks back fondly on the youthful summer memories before saying goodbye to them for good.
The far-and-away standout track is the climactic closer "CA Knights," by Bam Circa 86. It's a sort of victory lap for Bam. Who knows what he's celebrating, but that doesn't matter because the way he celebrates is just gorgeous. J. Blow's instrumental reminds me of some of the more transcendent, downright spirit-awakening moments from Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? A sampled songstress reaches for the heavens with her ooh's, and Bam reaches along with her, increasing his intensity and working out this rhythm between himself and the sample. He's never sounded this good. This is an excellent cap on a solid EP.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by following him on Twitter or e-mailing him directly.