Album Reviews

Little Jackie – The Stoop

(Parlophone) UK release date: 1 September 2008

The problem with Imani Coppola is that she was doing Lily Allen‘s music 10 years ago.

When she first sprung onto the scene with her ker-razy hair and the infectious femme hip-hopisms of the quirky Legend of A Cowgirl and her sassy NYC ‘attitood’ she blinked into view then faded like a fleeting rocket. Since then she has been ploughing on solo but now teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Adam Pallin into Little Jackie to try once more to get off the ground and gave herself until 30 before throwing in the towel.

Just scraping in there at 29 if it works out, Coppola had a fairytale start before youthful enthusiasm coupled with an untamed ego let things drift. No slouch in the decade inbetween, she released eight albums and guested on many others including Mike Patton‘s avant-funk side project Peeping Tom.

But it is a more palletable and chart-friendly canvas that Coppola is working from on this outing. Taking old school R&B filtered through the hotch-potch, pick’n’mix of hip hop and pop, Little Jackie aren’t afraid to use a dash of musical sugar and spice in the shape of infectious tunes and Coppola’s own contemporary lyrical twists.

Lead single The World Should Revolve Around Me is being mercilessly pummelled across the airwaves as we speak and hopefully should give her another chance for her to shine. Being as it is a catchy-as-hell soulful pop stroll from a self-centred perspective.

Described as bittersweet feel-good music, The Stoop does pop music with a capital P – in wolf’s clothing. Even when the music takes a deceptive dip towards the merely perfunctory, there are darker undercurrents in the lyrics. Liked You Better Before, with its sweetness turning sour; before she knew the progenitor he “didn’t smoke cigarettes, didn’t drink coffee, drank moderately, now you’re an alkie”. Taking a similarly uncompromising title Go Hard Or Go Home addresses knife crime, albeit to a sweet tune.

There’s a strong sense of stings in the tail with Little Jackie’s tales of proto-soul rhythms casting a knowing sneer over the social and cultural trends that consume the publics psyche. The tongue in cheek 28 Butts gleefully continues the easy going good times despite cataloguing a night in watching the ashtray pile up and the bottles empty. LOL captures the mobile phone generation with it’s “thumbs with a nervous twitch sending wrong texts to the wrong chick” in a cheeky Motown homage.

The doo-wop of Guys Like When Girls Kiss takes a more measured and thoughtful view of the phenomenon than the shrill lipstick lesbian tosh of Katy Perry‘s I Kissed A Girl, in that men are becoming so lame that the only path is to look for empathy instead of conflict.

Black Barbie meanwhile takes a knowingly sarcastic, saccharine swipe at the cult of celebrity and neatly rhymes socialite / appetite and cellulite with an attitude that is pure hip-hop swagger. And The Kitchen unleashes some much-needed musical energy with its gleefully disjointed funk echoing her earlier solo incarnation similar to the soul stomper of Cryin’.

The only downside to this formula is whether there is enough short-term attention span to make Little Jackie stand out from the overcrowded room of quirky female soul / hip hop / pop chanteuses out there. But hopefully the combination of Adam Pallin’s doo-wop echoes, Coppola’s honey-dipped vocals and their biting teeth behind the soul exterior can push them into appreciation by the audience who went for Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy worldview.

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Little Jackie – The Stoop