In Greek mythology, Odysseus was a legendary hero. He is famous for his “homecoming” which, after the decade-long Trojan War, took him ten eventful years. He is also renowned for his intellect and versatility, and these are attributes that Jesse Jagz has portrayed in his music.
We haven’t had to wait 10 years for Jesse Jagz’ fourth solo album but we have had to wait for quite some time.
Jesse originally began production on Odysseus in August, 2014 and its release was initially scheduled for 2015 but was delayed multiple times. Preceding the album was an art cover casting a nostalgic and historic family tie which is a compass to the dense state of mind that Jesse pursues these days.
Odysseus is a 10 track album which parades a fair number of celebrities including the fast-rising rapper, Hotyce, Styl-Plus, Cynthia Morgan, R2bees and Burna Boy.
‘Genesis’, the opener, ignites the album on a quite menacing tone. Jesse jumps right off the block after a quite brooding intro as he spits, “Made out of smoke and fire, coast to coast, I flow with fire’, and he goes ahead to boast that the ‘the outcome is only hit songs on the album. Then he switches from rap to an uninspired chorus, and suddenly the fire with which he kicked things off seemed to disappear.
Jesse, however, came back in the second verse and did just enough to get the song across the finish line despite the repetitive and one-dimensional rhyme pattern adopted.
On “Dirty”, we are introduced to the album’s first feature in rapper ‘Hotyce’, whose opening lines immediately sound off that he wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to outshine his veteran host. The song has a friendly vibe with some hint of trap flavor. It’s Jesse’s album but this moment is all about Hotyce. The promising rapper delivered a very aggressive and punch-line filled verse to burn up the track while giving Jesse his production credits.
I was really curious when I saw Styl Plus featured on the album, did the group (or half of it) still have what it takes to blow minds away in 2017? And on “Alright”, they did try to bring back that magic but all I kept hearing in my head was a nostalgic feeling of what they offered in the past. So with Jesse delivering his uninspiring verse, the track ended up being just – alright. Coming off the fact that Cynthia Morgan probably has never put out a weak verse, much was expected from “Fine n Clean” as the substantive queen of dancehall collaborated with the reggae god. But the song never really matched the promised heights. “Ghetto Youth” comes with that bouncy flow, as Jagz ‘the greatest’ tells the story of life as witnessed on the streets on a daily. A major mistake was in his choice of feature though, as Melon of R2Bees sounded out of place on the joint.
The album however closes on a high with “Violation” as the Don gorgon, Burna Boy, again proves why he is undoubtedly one of the most talented voices in the land. He helps Jesse find his energy with a verse filled with justified bragging rights. The song is a thumper which blends boom bap rap and dancehall flavor and is one of the brightest moments on the project.
Jesse Jagz is regarded as the greatest, and has proven himself capable of delivering almost matchless quality on his albums but somehow his fourth studio album lacks what the likes of Thy Nation Come and Royal Niger Company had on a deep and critical level and even the commerciality of Jagz of all Trades.
Whilst not being a bad album in any way, and having its moments in cameos and lyrical dexterity, Odysseus sounded like a tired and recycled Jesse Jagz who finally tries to conform to trending sounds. It never really built on the little crescendo that the feature with Hotyce gave it or the vibe that came with ‘Awake’. Jesse struggled to hold a coherent topic in most of his songs as he kept sounding like an artiste seeking for some inspiration but always falling short. He did come with his good mid-tempo vibe, enjoyable flow and super production but Odysseus is many things all at once and none of them really ground breaking. Jesse constantly switches from a rapper, to a singer, and the next minute, a dancehall artist and these facets come good when it works but when it lacks the right blend, the right vision and progression. The end result is a mess and that was witnessed several times on this album.
For the average artist, maybe this will get a pass but not from Jesse Jagz, he is not called the greatest just for being average.