“Universal State Of Mind” is an excellent and refreshingly tense mixtape that’s going to be being hailed as a masterpiece in some quarters from people who really want you to know that they know where it’s coming from. A streetwise rapper you can party, and who also openly loves Hip Hop, Soul, Reggae, Dubstep and even Rock music? You can practically see the indie critics getting all excited over Jesse Francisco a.k.a. Jesse Jaxx who was born in Germany, from an Angolan father and a half Nigerian, half German mother.
There have been few rap albums and mixtapes of any era that sound so confident and so all-embracing at the same time. Compared to the many trappy records these days that try so desperately to be different but end up sounding pretty uniform and boring, “Universal State Of Mind” feels not only genuinely diverse, but pretty eclectic too, and eclectic-ness isn’t something we get much of in hip-hop.
Jesse’s raps are at a peak there, but it’s also the beats on the mixtape that you consistently sink your ears into, and there aren’t any weak cuts among the twenty either. Right from the start, on “New Age (Intro)”, you’ll know that Jesse Jaxx’s is going to be taking you into some really cavernous and exciting sonic territory.
The qualities of the stories Jesse tells haven’t changed at all since his previous releases, only he’s gotten a whole lot better as a lyrical stylist. It’s the small details that count. And this music is filled with smaller, intricate details. Jesse Jaxx makes confessional realism, glossed over with compelling melodies, stylistic verses, and the kind of beats that charm ears the way the pungi charm snakes.
Jesse has a voice not quite like many other rappers around, he raps and sings, stretching his voice, constantly using his vocal chords, pushing them to the limit without letting completely loose, for every layer of emotion in his voice, there’s several more layers of restraint.
Listen how he uses he lower register on the pumping “I Do Me” as well as melodically singing the hook, and then how he switches to another register on the funky and banging “Six In Da Mornin” 16 Mix – a track that’s absolutely club-ready.
But Jesse not only switches his voce up and down – which he again does superbly on “Walkin” – but he also drastically switches the musical soundscapes. Listen to the soulful cinematic beats on “About Her ’12” ft. Florence & Blue Smoke and “Sinkin In Thoughts”, in contrast to the horn-induced alternative sounds on “Baby Got Checks”.
The most outstanding tracks to mind arrive towards the end of the mixatape and include “Street Life ft. Naan Breddaz”, “We Go Hard ’16 Mix” and the best of the bunch for me, “No More War ft. Malcolm X & Martin Luther King Jr.”
The “Universal State Of Mind” mixtape is quite unlimited in terms of sonic and tonal shifts and there’s hardly a flaw here, the recording is consistently powerful, belligerent and unapologetic and never ceases to stimulate the listener in one way or another.
Whether it be Jesse Jaxx’s persona, the volatility of the lyrics, or the immediacy of the beats – the audience, whether they are loving the music or the voice, will no doubt be paying great attention all the way through.