It seems like the lo-fi hip hop bug has finally hit Malta with the release of JC.B’s first EP, Peanuts.
First impressions are important, and perhaps that’s why JC.B has stuck to the already established and popular format of the beloved internet genre for the foundation of his first EP.
Despite this safety net, JC.B has chosen to adopt a subgenre of hip hop that has yet to gain footing in Malta’s underground music scene, making his release all that more refreshing and unique.
The 12-minute EP has four songs, each delving into the childhood of the young rapper and his past experiences of losing friends, dealing with bullies and the feeling of not being good enough. In keeping with this theme, JC.B has chosen to name each song after a character from the popular American comic strip ‘Peanuts’, interweaving some playfulness and comic relief with the issues discussed in the EP.
The opening track, Snoopy, begins with the signature sound of any lo-fi track, the crackling of a record player, accompanied by atmospheric organ/piano in the background. The simplicity that comes with the format creates a lot of space for JC.B to express his lyrical vocabulary… which is where the magic happens.
JC.B moves from bar to bar with a continuous flow that feels natural and brings his lyrics to life.
Snoopy is evidence that JC.B’s more than capable of holding his own, but the guest features in later songs add a welcome change of pace that complements the EP. The contributions by CHEF, M, and Yannick are solid, but it’s Melusine’s appearance on Charlie Brown that steals the show.
The third track ‘Peppermint’ is a stark contrast from the rest of the EP and verges more on the hip hop side then what we’ve heard so far.
The last track ‘Schroeder’ goes back to the lo-fi format we’re used to with some retro voice clippings in the background – another tribute to the culture of lo-fi and its nostalgic elements.
JC.B then comes in one last time, with a solo performance and spitting his meanest bars, before ending things on the most intense notes of the sonic session.
Peanuts is an easy listen and promising start for the young rapper. JC.B dabbles within the genre of Lo-fi and Hip Hop, sometimes leaning more to one side than the other.
Four guest appearances on a 12-minute EP can feel like overkill and slightly undermines JC.B’s abilities which, when performing alone, really shine through.