To say that Bigg Jus’ Machines That Make Civilization Fun is not your grandmother’s hip hop record would be an understatement. This is an indefinable, demanding, multifaceted warren of an album. It is also an extremely rewarding experience.
This is Bigg Jus’ fourth solo release since he departed rap collective Company Flow in the late 1990s. The rapper sat with the material for Machines for years and redefined his considerations on music in the process, deconstructing and reconstructing concepts, flows and beats while focusing on universal issues like wealth disparity and international politics.
Bigg Jus, born Justin Ingleton, was born in New York and grew up on the likes of Run DMC. He took an early interest in graffiti and the culture that came with it, naming himself Lune TNS and spreading his message around. Even now, Bigg Jus tags the streets under the Lune TNS name.
Company Flow came eventually, with Bigg Jus joining with emcee El-P and DJ Mr. Len. The group took hip hop back to its origins and took the message down to the streets, integrating it with science fiction references and crystallizing a movement in underground rap that still stands to this day.
Now, however, Bigg Jus is forging his own path. Machines That Make Civilization Fun is the next step on the path, a piercing and hardnosed lurch into the future of hip hop music.
Comparing the pure weight of this record to other modern hip hop albums is, to be honest, kind of pointless. Machines is a dark piece of work, a nebulous and genre-breaking artistic endeavour that finds Bigg Jus messing around with exceptional cadences and dropping in words that’ll have listeners racing to their dictionaries.
Best of all, the album spins as one unit and every single individual track melts into its predecessor and bends into its follower. He sifts through the moody ashes of “Game Boy Predator” and slides into “Black Roses” without missing a beat, engaging not with mere bars but little packages of words and phrases.
At times, Bigg Jus seems to be off on a flow without even announcing it. “Empire Is A Bitch (Fake Arab Spring Mix)” takes off before the listener even realizes and the rapper rides above a beat that is almost imperceptible, spitting knowledge and conspiracy theories while buried in production tactics.
This approach is indeed by design and Bigg Jus’ Machines That Make Civilization Fun has been tailored to the letter. Fans of mainstream pop rap will likely find themselves lost without a roadmap, while those with more audacious spirits and dangerous musical minds will celebrate this banquet of sound and noise.