Bar Exam: Jay Sanon – Matters Of The Heart (First Listen Review)

Jay Sanon dropped his Matters of the Heart project this week, and while I’ve been a little detached from hip-hop for the past couple months, this is one that’s been on my radar.

The bar exam is a sharing of notes from my true first listen to a project. I typically provide in-depth thoughts and commentary on anything from flows, rhymes, beats, creative direction, track placement, and concepts.

1. Heart Monologue – We start off with an interlude that raises the curtain on the subject matter for the whole album. “God is not looking for perfection. He is looking for wholeness.” “The reason we haven’t been strong enough in love is because we haven’t been weak enough with love to ask Love as a noun to help us function in love as a verb.

2. No Doubt Feat. Noelle Rose – Soul vibe on the hook. Female vocals. Slow jam type of instrumental. The melody of the hook clashes with the chord progression of the instrumental, creating an unwanted tension at the beginning of this track. Something here reminds me of Common. “I’ve been thirsting for love but I’ve been coming up dry.” This is a brave opener for the album, to have such a chilled out vibe. It sets the tone for the rest of the project, and I anticipate for it all to be like this.

3. Somebody – It’s hard to figure out where the hook is at the top. It all blends together. Seeing that the title is called “somebody,” I picked up on it once we got to that part, but this stuff at the top presents like a verse. Jay’s tone on his verse is nice, and I dig the vocal doubling as well. The last 1/4 of the verse is dope when he changes up the style and digs in.

4. Insecurity (Interlude) – Another interlude. Obviously he’s sticking to the theme of relationships, fickle feelings, and the roller coaster that significant others can take you on. Album could’ve been called “Rhodes and Heartbreaks” or something (lol.)

5. Fatal Attraction – The beat here sounds like 90’s Bad Boy when Ma$e and Diddy were on top. Actually the whole song sounds like that. It’s hot because it’s so on point with the nostalgia. The flows are air tight, the overall sound is just a bit dated. I don’t hate it though. Okay this is legitimate… he gives a shoutout to Bad Boy at the end. Well done.

6. Tell Me – Jay is storytelling here. He’s fighting temptation and sharing the struggle of trying to live life without a moral compass. This track is flames. I love the ominous tone to the instrumental, and how the layered vocals enhance the performance.

7. Heart Of The Matter – Staying in that laid back vein, Jay is still comfortable to bob and weave with seemingly little effort. “It’s hard to see clearer when there’s crack up in your mirror/And the person staring back at you ain’t getting any nearer/ Yeah we share the same features but there’s clearly been a change/ Cause all I see is a slave that once used to be a king/ Who traded in his crown for some whips any some chains/ Momentary comfort the only thing vanity brings” It’s all crazy nice and ultimately points to real truth and the source of true pleasure in Jesus.

8. Boomerang Pt. 2 – “Girl I like the way you do your thing/ You ain’t never gotta worry bout a thing/ I’ll be by your side through the storm and rain/ Coming back to you like a Boomerang” Man we needed this album at Valentine’s Day. I’m all in on this concept, this vibe, and how on point Jay is with his themes.

To conclude, this album grew on me. It was like the deeper I got into it, the more I really bought what Jay Sanon was trying to do. The beats don’t fit in with the modern era of hip hop, the style doesn’t necessarily do that either. But what Jay proves to us with this project is that you can know that your music won’t really be for everybody, but you can also be confident in who you are and what you’re bringing. Jay really put in work here, stayed true to himself, and came out with something special.

Overall Rating: Above The Bar

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