A mover and shaker in the bustling Bay Area scene, West Oakland’s J. Stalin exemplifies his city’s realness, determination, and dedication to the grind. Sharing the long awaited sequel to a Bay Area classic, Stalin drops Prenuptial Agreement 2, a glistening testament to the enduring power of mob music. Founded in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, Mob music is defined by its hard-nosed lyrics and signature sounds: crisp, gently swinging drums, cinematic synths, and prominent, squelching bass. Long one of the most notable Mob proponents in the East Bay, Stalin helped the subgenre regain prominence with his 2010 tape Prenuptial Agreement. Now, 13 years and over 50 projects later, Stalin returns to the project that made him a regional star, creating a 17-track document aimed to bring back the mob era.
“Mob music is sinister basses and sinister snares,” explains J. Stalin. “It’s all in the drums and snares and it’s real bassy. It’s a distinctive sound, created by producers like DJ Duo, Ant Banks, Mike D, and Rick Rock. When the first Prenup came out, hyphy was what was popping in the Bay Area. Mob rappers like me, we made some hyphy tracks, but hyphy was kid-like to us. When we did hyphy, we mixed it with mob sounds and harder lyrics. Mob was our version of what drill is now. Prenup brought the Bay sound back to mob music. Hyphy wasn’t as popular by 2010, and everyone was saying, ‘What are we gonna do now, how is the sound gonna be now?’ When I dropped Prenuptial Agreement, the whole city knew: ‘this is the new sound.'”
Prenuptial Agreement 2 is a showcase for Stalin’s raspy vocals, brutally honest lyrics, and peerless ability to navigate mob instrumentals. Moving from love songs to hustlers’ anthems and back with effortless ease, the album features production from OG Mob architects like The Mekanix, Clayton Williams, and Mike Made The 808s, plus younger beatmakers like Juneonnabeat. Like the Pitchfork-acclaimed original, which brought guest spots from the likes of E-40 and The Jacka, Prenuptial Agreement brings an eclectic cast of characters, from fellow Oaklanders like Philthy Rich, 22nd Jim, and Jane Handcock standing up for the 357, and street heroes from other cities, like Florida’s Jackboy and Stockton’s EBK Young Joc, who sound right at home. Paired with the release is a video for one of the albums standout tracks, “Who U Talkin 2. (ft. June).” What starts off feeling like a sequel to the Hype Williams classic, Belly, quickly turns into a party on the Vegas strip where Stalin and June are posted up with their crew spitting fire bars, daring anyone who isn’t correct to reveal who they’re talking to.
Some of the album’s highlights make reference to songs from the original, including the soulful sequel “Don’t Front Pt. 2” and the funky “World On My Shoulders” samples a beat originally created by D-Shot of The Click. With additional appearances from Lyjah, Kevin Allen, 4rAx of The Mekanix, Acito, and many more, Prenuptial Agreement 2 arrives on January 27th via Livewire Records/EMPIRE.
Loyal to the grind and his family, J. Stalin is building a legacy for himself and the Oakland scene he hails from. With Prenuptial Agreement 2, the proudly independent artist cements his rightful place in Bay Area history.
© 2023, Seth "Digital Crates" Barmash. All rights reserved.