Sound Advice: No Handouts by JD Era
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Sound Advice: No Handouts by JD Era

Local hip-hop scene stalwart shows why he's earned Wu-Tang legend Raekwon's stamp of approval.

When Wu-Tang legend Raekwon blew into town last year and signed local rappers JD Era and Gangis Khan to his new label, The Chef’s two new proteges responded in very different ways.

While Gangis started producing new material at an almost frenetic pace, releasing three mixtapes in five months, Era opted to be a little more methodical, getting on a couple tracks with his mentor, making an appearance on Strombo, then releasing No Handouts, a mixtape that is actually an album in all but name. With several high-profile guests, as well as some heavy-hitting producers—including both locals like Rich Kidd and Pro Logic, and Americans like Lex Luger and 9th Wonder—No Handouts lets Era show exactly how well rounded an MC he is.

On “Top of the Game,” he switches speeds with remarkable precision, first intentionally crowding too many words in each bar, then changing it up and drawing out every syllable. On “Canada Eh!” Era lays down complex metaphors and plays word association games over snapping snares and a horn sample that gets stuck in your head. “Yoga Flame” is the least lyrical song on the album, but proves that Era is capable of making a rowdy, tear-the-club-up style banger as well as creating rewind-worthy bars.

The other thing that’s impressive is how well Era stacks up next to some of the guests who appear on the album. On “9th Inning,” Era more than keeps up with his legendary label boss Raekwon, while he rhymes circles around chart topper Mac Miller on “Hate Me Later.” (Click above for a sample of that song.)

Canadian hip-hop heads have long known that JD Era is one of this country’s top rap talents. On No Handouts, he proves that he may be one of the most talented rappers working right now, period.