It is not often that a debut album will feature appearances from the crème de la crème of musical society. Yet, such is the feat of wunderkinds DOMi and JD Beck. Since their auspicious coupling in 2018, the duo has managed to enter the jazz pantheon without even a single to their name. Their prodigious musical talent, veiled in outlandish antics and general irreverence, proved to be commensurate with the Youtube algorithm and the pair found a fanbase effectively through ‘shitposting’ online. Yet in the four years, they had been making waves online and on the festival circuit, they had still to produce any recorded material. NOT TiGHT marks not only the arrival of the first comprehensive musical statement from the celebrated star children, but also from Anderson .Paak’s new label, APESHIT INC. The result is a genre-bending jazz-hop album that largely delivers on the hype but falls short of being the masterwork it could have been.
NOT TiGHT is of course anything but. For those even vaguely familiar with DOMi and JD Beck, how could one expect anything less? DOMi’s dextrous keyboard ability, syncopated bass lines on one hand and advanced runs, and polychordal harmonies on the other, are complemented perfectly by JD Beck’s equal parts jazz – equal parts IDM approach to the drumset. The two possess an uncanny musical synergy, yet virtuosity is really the least interesting part of this record. As the case of Jacob Collier demonstrates, exceptional musical talent doesn’t always beget exceptional songwriting. Thankfully this isn’t so much the case here. DOMi and JD Beck, with the guidance of Anderson .Paak, ultimately succeed in creating an album that is larger than the sum of its parts.
There is a definite vibe in NOT TiGHT. The sonic world is an extension of the DOMi and JD Beck aesthetic – muted, bombastic, whimsical, and flippant all at once. Of all the songs featured, perhaps “SMiLE,” which posits a childish melody over a shifting harmonic and rhythmic framework, is best representative of their outlandish naive but virtuosic style. However, given that the album relies heavily on features from artists such as Thundercat, Mac DeMarco, and even Herbie Hancock who is featured on vocoder on the song “MOON,” NOT TiGHT can feel rather inconsistent. Some of the numbers here are straightforward hip-hop songs, some are instrumentals, some orchestral interludes, and there is no dearth of modern-jazz inspired jams.
The jazz-hop songs are especially disappointing, they feel uninspired and fail to really set themselves apart from the numerous jazz/hip-hop crossovers churned out in recent years. By far the best number on here is “TAKE A CHANCE,” which features a delectable pop melody cleverly employed in a progressive jazz context. As virtuoso musicians, DOMi and JD Beck are treading a fine line between making music that sounds good, and music that feels good, and they would do well to err on the side of the latter.