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2011 Gems: Jackie Chain puts on for Alabama's SLAB culture

Let's face it: there's too much new music in a year for any one human being to digest. "2011 Gems" is a December feature on Midnight Sun where I highlight some of the tracks that might have flown under your radar. First up is Jackie Chain's smooth tribute to his Southern rap lifestyle. The song is full of curse words so if that's not your thing, move right along.

Jackie Chain, "Parked Outside (feat. Big K.R.I.T. and Bun B)"

When I spoke with ST 2 Lettaz of G-Side last month, we talked about Alabama and how everyone has to drive around to get to anything. So it makes sense that car culture plays a huge role in Southern rap, and that these songs are written, composed, mixed and mastered with the hopes to rattle some trunks, not some tiny white earbuds.

Jackie Chain, another Alabama MC, pays respect to the South and its SLABs (a description for a "slow, low and bangin'" tricked out car) with "Parked Outside." Over a gorgeous Big K.R.I.T. beat that feels like an homage to the producer's hero, Pimp C, Chain immediately finds the beat's pocket and refuses to let go. He nonchalantly brushes off haters and the police, with a smoothness that matches the crawling production: "Haters ain't gonna stop me, they just fuel to my fire / I put the roof off in my trunk and blow some smoke in the sky." It's the combination of Chain's confident delivery and K.R.I.T.'s back-room bounce that makes "Parked Outside" a song that sticks with you.

If this is your introduction to Jackie Chain, it's OK to approach with caution. He's an Asian rapper with a bad haircut and a voice that doesn't bulldoze songs, it merely slinks into the mix. But all year, he released drugged-out odes with enough humor and realism to strike an enjoyable balance. "Parked Outside," a song where he outshines a particularly generic Bun B, is just another example of it. (Sometimes, Bun B, a living Southern legend if there ever was one, dials in these guest verses and this is a perfect case. It's OK to wish K.R.I.T. rapped a 16 instead of Bun here.) The Motion Family-directed video captures everything inviting and seemingly distant about Chain's world.


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