During my editorial stint at the hip-hop website TheBoombox.com, I compiled a top 20 list of the Greatest Jazz Rap Albums of the 1990s. It’s not a thorough list by any means (I only had 20 slots to fill), so I missed a few albums. But I have most of the celebrated jazz/hop-hop albums of that era.
One of the many artists featured on the list was a little unknown band called Justice System. They were an eclectic live band out of New York who made a name for themselves by performing energetic live shows throughout NYC. The group was eventually signed to MCA Records and released their debut album Rooftop Soundcheck in 1994.
The project was a great collection of jazz and rap-infused sounds that celebrated hip-hop culture. The LP was a toast to New York with standout tracks like “Trouble on My Mind" (with its hat-tip to Public Enemy's Chuck D) and “Santana,” which paid homage to legendary guitarist Carlos Santana.
Twenty-four years after the release of their debut album, Justice System is back with a new track called “Bronxian Bauxite.” Produced by Jason Famous Beats, the song is a salute to the birthplace of hip-hop (Bronx, New York) and the five elements from the culture.
Listen to Justice System's "Bronxian Bauxite"
There's plenty of old-school phrasings and deft rapping from the two MCs who are spitting lyrics over a melodic piano groove and a classic boom-bap beat. Lyrics consists of reflective rhymes like this:
"Seminole headstrap my rap is inspired by the "Big Payback" and Uptown brainiacs / They were sonic archeologists, non-apologists, obvious ominous in the invisible metropolis / Minding for gold with no handhold / Records untold, they were buying by the billfold / And when a new break was found...it was like, get down-get down."
If you are unfamiliar with the Justice System's 1994 album Rooftop Soundcheck, I added two of my favorite songs from the project for your listening pleasure. Hit the flip below.
Listen to Justice System's "Trouble on My Mind"
Listen to Justice System's "Due Our Time"