Fave Fours: the works of Noa James
Over the years I had sampled the works of Noa James but had never really sat down and done a thorough chronological listen through; so a couple months ago I embarked on a journey that was a lot more clear and relatable than I could have imagined. Noa's story is unique but his themes of dealing with demons and different levels of health are something that all people can understand as life continues on. Upon finishing my listen of his oeuvre I wanted to share the 4 that as music albums I found to be the strongest or at least were my favorite four.
Adventures of Young Orca – the Phantom Thrett produced, Curtiss King featured “It’s the Common Ground” song featured here is not just historic in what it is the theme to but it is probably my favorite song from all 3 artists, and one of the best I.E. hip-hop songs and videos ever. The rest of the record is of a piece with the chill brilliance on display here in what I consider Noa James’ great leap forward from an already smart and idiosyncratic prior era.
Cherry Yellow Glow – The futuristic production from Aye Brook on this record is perhaps the most shiny and polished sound we’ve heard Noa on yet. Everything is on 11 here- Noa’s intense but intensely positive raps, psychedelic guitars, thunderous bass knocks and truly original content searching for synesthesia and real soul-nurturing content in a cold universe. The melodies here are killer- of Noa’s bolder more experimental projects this one pays off the most for me.
Majestic Travels of Orcamane & Ogie – A sequel to Young Orca Adventures, this record does have a boom-bap warmth and familiarity to it with virtuoso craft from the collaborators from the opening single’s chill anthemic mantras to the dojo training level lyricism Archer and Mescal collabs, Nuglife shows us why he is match made in Heaven for the Orcamane.
Granny Said – Noa’s official album label debut with Alpha Pup, this album has “Granny Said”, “Buu’s Hungry” and a lot of other marquee Noa songs with classic collaborators like Faimkills and Hippietrapgoddess- his debut is worth the wait, it’s a meal and well-executed as anything else he has done. In context with the rest of his work, seeing Noa’s odes to his family and journey within his self is very satisfying as it culminates in this album and throughout his catalog.
As I said in my write-up for Peace of Cake, Noa is not complacent- these projects are not just the same stuff over and over even if there are recurring themes. Look at how he talks about negativity and the dark side over the years…that’s not repetition, that’s growth. These are themes he returns to album after album with a wiser and more positive perspective basically every time. Another thought I had is that his discography reminds me of Mac Dre’s in its diversity yet cohesion and also its fantastic production choices. Anyway, the I.E. is lucky to have a torch-carrier that isn’t boring at all, peep these records and the rest by Noa James, you won’t regret the journey.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers