Review: jj, Kills

Kills shines during the moments when she gets to strut out.

jj, Killsjj’s Kills rounds up the usual suspects for beats (M.I.A., Dr. Dre, Taio Cruz, Jay-Z, Kanye West), but this mixtape goes down like a 30-minute bong hit chased by Weezy’s Easter Rabbit pink syrup. It’s somewhat imprisoned as a time capsule from summer 2010, but it’s still rewarding in manipulating pop-rap to become the backbone of stoned violence and slow-motion nihilism. Almost all of the tracks have been recent Top 40 hits (Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” is the veteran now that it’s terrifyingly close to being a decade old), but jj cherry picks the candy bars that hide razor blades under the wrapper.

Lead singer Elin has a Hannibal Lector flow. She sounds like Glinda the Good Witch cooing you to sleep in a poppy field, but she’s got daggers in her jawline that could kill you if she could be bothered to care. M.I.A.‘s exuberance on “Paper Planes” is replaced with Elin’s jaded iciness. Even the childlike, jubilant chorus is transformed into a serious threat of violence. In jj’s hands, a track that once conjured images of little Indian boys joyously scampering around Mumbai picking pockets now evokes a pair of teenage lovers playing Russian Roulette for fun.

If the tape is held back slightly by its well-trod roster of samples, Elin’s vocal swagger is the featured attraction. Robbing lines from a pack of rap heavyweights (as well as some choice Phil Collins) and spitting claims about getting money and smelling like sin in purple haze, Kills shines during the moments when she gets to strut out. She half-whispers “Fuck all these hoes” not because she’s a sexist, but because she’s been around the world and nothing she saw meant anything to her. The label probably thought it was cute to drop this mixtape on December 24th so they could be last year’s best indie Secret Santa, but jj is ringing in a black Christmas.

As one of the YouTube comments on “Kill You” bitches, it’s nearly impossible to get into the groove of the track, but we’re not meant to. You don’t dance to this music. Kills is for the two-in-the-morning window of time when you want to sleep so badly but you know you’re about to see something horrible in your dreams.

 Label: Sincerely Yours  Release Date: December 24, 2010

Dave Toropov

David Toropov is a special events director at the About Face Theatre in Chicago.

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