In hip-hop today, we are witnessing a trend towards more short-but sweet albums. In stark contrast to the traditional hour-long album, this curtailed form allows artists to flash different unique and creative flavors in short bursts. This new form owes a debt to the newfound prevalence of internet artists who commonly release bursts of new music with alarming frequency. The tradeoff of constantly creating for new sounds for your fanbase typically forces these artists to remove the polish most full-length projects incorporate, but some notable standouts are starting to surface. One of these unheralded and forceful performers is Innanet James. Hailing from Silver Springs, MD, James recently released his second project Keep It Clean, and this sophomore effort trims all the fat as its eight songs have only a 22-minute run time. Keep It Clean is a funky and playfully-short journey that despite its brief runtime, feels very much like a complete work.
Innanet has polished his sound quite a bit since his 2016 debut. Innanet delivers a controlled pace on bars like standout “Bag.” Here, the chorus juggles between speeding up and slowing down, which was a prevalent theme on his first album. He doesn’t feel like he’s hiding his voice behind the beats as much on Keep It Clean. His voice sounds like a mixture between Vince Staples and Smino, bringing a whiny twang to the table that acts as a natural lowkey autotune. His ability to stretch words and manipulate repetition on a song like Amazing is one of Innanet’s greatest talents.
Another notable victory is the features. Every feature works. Actually, they more than work, they’re well placed all improve upon their respective songs. This is not always an easy task, even for tenured artists. Innanet puts his features in the ideal spot to succeed with KALLITECHNIS and Rexx Life Raj, delivering strong looks, as well as a surprising Pusha T verse of Pusha being Pusha.
Innanet’s more unapologetic and funky hip-hop songs outclass his R&B attempts like Memories and Where We Go. I think he seems more enthusiastic on tracks like Bag and The Cool, which is good because it’s what he’s better at and what’s in higher demand. There’s no agenda here. This album is as genuine as it fun and I’m very excited to see what Innanet (who’s only been taking music seriously since 2015) will put out next.