Until those industry suckas get it right, Jean Grae is gonna keep pushing LPs and pushing the limits of what exactly classifies a “female MC.” The underground rap prodigy has been gradually leading up to her next album by releasing numerous mixtapes—her latest, Hurricane Jean: The Jeanius Strikes Again, a compilation featuring a horde of guest MCs cosigning Grae’s lyrical capabilities.
Grae flaunts her array of verbal weaponry on 17 tracks, often outshining the males accompanying her. And as usual, she maneuvers her way through metaphors and sophisticated wordplay as slickly as a Jay-Z or a Nas.
In “Black Girl Pain,” which is also featured on Talib Kweli’s Beautiful Struggle, Jean shouts out some women in her life who merit praise, including her cousins back home in Capetown, Africa and “the strength of mommy’s backbone.” She meanwhile showcases her customary wittiness and poetic panache on songs like “2nd Chance” and “So Smooth,” though Grae sometimes suffers from an emotionless delivery—what some critics declare is her one weak spot.
Nevertheless, Jean proudly presents her new rap crew, The Generals, comprised of five other MCs from across the nation, including McGuyver aka Private E-1, a 12-year-old girl with a penchant for carrying “supersoakers in my backpack filled up with acid.” Imitating Eminem’s inflected syllables and gory metaphors on this track, Grae spits, “White chick, three shades paler than most of my people/Wipe my own shit/you can’t say that either, bitch/I’m not Feminem/You’ll find an emblem/over your tombstone of my face if you mention him.”
Grae throws in two songs off her most recent album, This Week—“Style Wars” and “The Wall”—and performs a stellar freestyle over Nas’ “Shoot Em Up” beat on “getting fuck’d up.”
Summing it up for us on “Nuttin’s Real” with Block McCloud, Jean eschews ever abandoning her art for the sake of fame: “I hate this music/I hate that I’m related to it/I scrape to do it/My brake fluids embrace movement/I wanna quit it but I’m still addicted/rehab twitchin’ like I just kicked it/when I’m not spittin’, I itch/Is it non-inspired?/Should I become a 9-to-5er?/down to the wire/At 26 should I retire?/Of course not.”