Elujay & J.Robb are a Couple ‘GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE’ with Collaborative EP
Evan Dale // Dec 12, 2020
Like a BOGO on Arizona Iced Tea; like a porno mag with the plastic already peeled off; like the clerk who knows your sweets flavor; Elujay and J.Robb are a couple of GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE. For the silky-smooth vocalist, the project is an immersive continuation of where he left off with 2019’s acclaimed Adojio. For the widely nuanced producer, it’s the continuation of a busy year denoted by the collaborative genius that a new kind of collective, Play Nice, brought to our ears. For both artists, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE feels nothing if not fluid, organic, and raw.
It’s a trio of adjectives tenuous to R&B and Neo-Soul’s obsession with over-production and perfectionism; on the opposite end, the three adjectives are tenuous to the DIY production sphere where quirky irregularities dictate artistic direction. Instead, both creatives have long plastered adjectives like fluid, organic, and raw to the shape of their respective musical abilities, crafting successful lanes not from sounding like anyone else, but from their ultimate relatability and natural demeanors. Elujay: an undeniably talented voice who above all else instills his music with character and emotion natural to himself. J.Robb: a producer who has mastered his instrumentally founded sound, never reaching outside of what feels natural to him while still willing to take risks with a project’s aesthetic.
In a reinvention of sorts for the easy-listening, emotionally dynamic, and inarguably groovy lanes paved before them, something about both of their sounds feels unendingly homey and warm. And yet, something about GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE walks the tightrope between the R&B of the past, the Neo-Soul of the future, and the raw creativity of emerging artists across every indefinable scene. Its true genius lies in its seeming effortlessness.
From the first track to the eleventh, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTONE brims with an identity of a far too fruitful jam session. Like sitting around the home studio with friends and having a couple of them piece together a masterpiece, the EP is as minimally invasive to the ears as it is emotionally immersive and attention grabbing at the same time. It’s experiential and simple. And simply, it’s good music.
Like any good collaborative effort, friends have a lot to do with that. Play Nice’s Zilo is to Elujay what Syd is to Leven Kali: a perfect partner with which to craft romantic anthems like WASTING MY TIME. Another instrumentally founded DIY Neo-Soul prince on the rise, ROMderful is a natural fit for Elujay’s aesthetic in STAY BY YOUR LINE. Stylistically fluid DC lyricists, Foggieraw and Ciscero – who earlier in the year collaborated on illustrious single, Poetry Jam, lend their respective poetry to GOLD BUDDHA and CALLIN MY NAME. And Kyle Dion does what Kyle Dion does for the EP’s closing track, LADY.
And yet, even with the influx of so much talented artistry, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE always comes back to the artistic relationship between Elujay and J.Robb. Each track, with the exception of the well-included and must listen interludes, BASS MASTER and PENNY, is a study on the match made in 7-Eleven, where the understated range of Elujay melts into instrumental backdrops built on beachy guitar chords (CAME FOR), playful keys (SWING THRU), and bouncy bass (CHOOSE UP).
At its end, you may as well play it back again, because the entirety of GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE is so lighthearted, funk-laden, vibey, and listenable that its loop could soundtrack anybody’s day-to-day life, from the love story to the liquor store, the cab ride to the cornerstore.