“All of my life I’ve been a crab in a bucket,” describes the uplifted Choo Jackson on his newest record Anime 2. The positive reflections that follow behind him are frequent as if he looks into the world’s often cold eyes and can smile back without hesitation as hip-hop’s hippy.
From the first introductory handshakes that comes in the form of “Prayers from the Sky”, Jackson is immediately hitting the scene in a bright, but elegant display. His vocal approach is laid back, but still progressive as he weaves between being able to connect the ties of success and ignoring the rear-view, dashing toward this more authentic percussive set and string-heavy production. “I could make a million talking ‘bout a Draco, but what happens when I’m a million days old and look up at my grandkids and they talking kilos and pesos, lil demons, I don’t wanna face those,” Jackson describes in this verse that has to inflict a smile. He is realistic behind his work but reaches into the ether for these more abstract ideas that makes Anime 2 have a conflicting dichotomy behind it.
While the record spins, Jackson moves through several tracks, “Those Games (Hey)” and “Gold Medal” before reaching “Loner” which was one of his standout singles. The mood shifts abruptly and becomes daunting, and almost constricting in a sense. His voice suddenly changes from the always smiling, wide-eyed expression to a more sullen, almost existential depiction. With the piano that begins to haunt the listener, creating this mental weight that is still elegant, but has affliction behind it. The beat transition is covered by a gentle rain and incoming thunderstorm that leads into one of the heavier, more hip-hop styled tracks.
A Black Sabbath-esque sample comes from the production of CLOCKWORK DJ, who was known for both producing and being the touring DJ for the Pittsburgh Superhero Mac Miller. With CLOCK’s production over Jackson’s vocals, they create this creeping, almost jungle crawl into the midnight hour. “The Letter B” was one of the monumental tracks that connects Anime 2 into this consistently shifting animal that can bounce from tears to rage in moments. “Been there, I been there, been there, been there. Hey, down on the floor I been there. Hey, mansion, you ain’t never been in there,” describes Jackson in this boastful, but necessary flex that wraps up into those the ominous, drowning chords.
Jackson however, fades back into the organic, more flourishing sound of “Find Myself Again” by reflecting through these synth chords that are warm and almost embrace the listener. The drums behind the production are complex and use these hi-hat clasps that fade in-and-out of consciousness. Jackson is a surfer that rides over the flowing instrumentation before coming to a final hook where he explains, “And I can’t keep my hopes and all my dreams to myself.”
From Florida to Pittsburgh, Atlanta to L.A., Jackson has this overbearing presence behind his sound. As Anime 2 emerges out from the shadows of production, heartbreak, and emotional attachment, Jackson dawns the gap-toothed smile that never seems to tarnish.