Jay N.D. (pronounced "Indie") is a DMV-based, Georgia-bred Hip-Hop renaissance man. He has self described old-school R&B sensibilities and an emphasis on thoughtful lyrics, but his sound is current and can fit into tons of moods and situations. I would describe him as a singer first but when the track calls for bars, true to the title of the album, Jay N.D. only needs himself. On "LONEWOLF" this hidden gem delivers as balanced and cohesive an album as I've heard from an Indie Trap&B artist.
I happen to have met Jay N.D. and I know his "golden age" in Hip-Hop, like mine, was in the late 90s/early 00s. Back then I don't think we would have dreamed to call 7 songs an album, but that is the standard that streaming platforms, retailers, and award brokers consider the minimum to be labeled an "album." In 2004, I'm not sure what the technical standards were, but in the community - 7 songs was an "EP"! Or (regrettably) we would have thrown about 15 more already-released tracks on it and called it a mixtape and given it a 45 word title. I told y'all though-- Jay N.D. is NOT stuck in his ways or any time period. And right in line with today's standards of minimalism and catering to short attention spans, "LONEWOLF" clocks in at 21minutes but amazingly is EVERY BIT an "album" in the oldest-school sense of the word. In layman's terms, this shit is short but it's a WHOLE vibe. And by a "whole vibe" I mean this thing rides a specific sonic wavelength throughout and sticks close to its theme.
The theme can best be described as the prideful vulnerability we all have at the point in a breakup when we realize it's truly over -- and either dread or celebrate letting out our inner "LONEWOLF." Prideful vulnerability is obviously an oxymoron, but often contradiction is thematically where the best art comes from and that's what Jay N.D. has managed here musically and lyrically. He takes us through all the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is ending a relationship and looking towards the next chapter.
Don't be fooled by the familiar "Intro" title of the first track, this isn't a skip through; you literally are being introduced to Jay N.D.'s sound and lyrical stylings just in time for what I think is the highlight track "Keep My Distance." All the lyrics on "Keep My Distance" are relatable and he hits like five different cadences rapping/singing on this joint. Its a musical flex. "Toxic Baby Savage" is what it sounds like-- a relapse into toxicity-- a pointless but necessary "fuck you" to his old flame. "Skin" sounds like an ode to the rebound chick. On "Don't leave Me Behind" we're back to grieving love lost. "C2M//EQWF" ( Come To Me/Earthquakes & Waterfalls" are the booty-call that gets you back to the streets fully so you can restart all the "Naughty Problemz" Jay N.D. describes on the last track.
I took you song-by-song through the themes because I think the emotional path of this album is important but also because, like I said, the sonic element of this album is so consistent it doesn't need that same play-by-play. Its steady throughout. I'm no expert in R&B musicality, but Jay N.D. switches up the norm by pretty heavily vocoding the baritone sections and going natural on the falsettos. This chopped and screwed style vocal lends some darkness for the themes and Southern Hip-Hop seasoning to the sound bed that contrast nicely with his light, natural singing voice. I love it and once again I think its perfect for the lyrical content.
I'm gonna take a page out of Jay N.D.'s book and keep this wrap-up short and efficient. This is a great album and completely worth 21 minutes of your time ESPECIALLY if you're thinking in that "LONEWOLF" mode and reminiscing, going through, or looking forward to a breakup.
Written by: @itskirbs804