Written by Steve “DISCourse” Held
Quiet As Kept(HipNott Records) is the new album from duo Danny Diggs(instrumentals) and Jermiside(verbals). The duo’s latest twelve track collection deliver an increased sense of identity in Jerm’s lyrical musings and familiar yet fresh board work from Diggs. Their first collaboration, 2010’s Middle Classic(HipNott Records), serves as an aural introduction to the life and perspective of its lyricist. It’s supported by a great flexibility on the boom-bap production side, which stir up emotions as distinct as despair and triumph while rarely missing a beat. Without a doubt, Quiet As Kept succeeds in picking up where Middle Classic left off.
QAK isn’t 12 tracks of break-your-neck bangers and lyrical flames. Even for me, who was already a fan of this duo, I needed a few listens for everything to sink in. Jerms’ flow doesn’t snatch you up at first bar (that’s not usually his style) and Diggs doesn’t aim for street anthem gusto. Diggs’ musical landscape is beautiful and smooth to be sure. Jermiside’s lyrics carry undeniable merit, but the slick, witty rhymes (never old clichés) are slid into verses on the low. This album isn’t for everyone. If you like your Hip Hop loud in a club or need that dope boy sound, this might not be the album for you. If you want cool Boom Bap-ish music to flow through your headphones as you bounce around the city or lounge at home, this is the Hip Hop for you.
Kinship is a prominent theme in Jermiside’s lyrics and Quiet As Kept keeps the tradition. “Bloodline”, one of the standout tracks of QAK, is an affirming celebration of Jermiside’s lineage: the MC takes pride in his roots as a descendant of a “sharecropper grandfather” and discovers many other forbearers. In learning about his family tree, Jerms expands the definition of his ethnicity and gains wisdom through knowledge of self. And lets be clear: Danny Diggs really did his thing on this one. Singing horns and silky layered vocal samples combine with a light quick snare section to imbue the track with an exultant sound.
“Thank You” is another gripping offering on this album. Verse one features Jermiside’s ode to his mother’s love and strength. The verse is touching and filled with details with personal nuance rather than tired tropes that litter some of Hip Hop’s better-known parental dedications. Providing the hook, L-Marr the Star pulls on heartstrings pleading, “If God takes me away and I don’t get to say/ I guess I’m telling you thank you.” These brief lines simultaneously play as heartbreaking and celebratory, stirring a potent mix of emotions. But my favorite part of this track is the concluding verse by Ill Poetic. The clever wordsmith spins this heartfelt dedication as only an MC and Hip Hop head can, laying bare his debt of gratitude to his trusty headphones. Aspects of creativity like this, in my opinion, distinguish good music from formulaic grabs for shine in an age when it feels like everybody’s a rapper.
Overall, I could only identify two minor flaws (neither worth mentioning here) in what is otherwise a gem of Hip Hop music. The insights, passion and growth of Jermiside are undeniably his own, and as such, they ring true and powerfully. Danny Diggs contributes a powerful depth to those lyrics that enhances the themes explored on each track, making them all the more compelling. Quiet As Kept is a solid offering and worthy successor to the accomplishment that was Middle Classic.