Sydney hip-hop duo Jackie Onassis have pulled a Queen Bey’ and dropped their debut album Pristine Alley without forewarning. And hey, what’s better than new music? Surprise new music, of course, that’s what; and this tasty offering sure does deliver. The lads MC Kai and Raph Lauren are no stranger to success, from their bedroom produced EP’s Holiday and Juliette and their recent work with iconic hip hop collective One Day. Now, the choice to drop an album unexpectedly would obviously never raise a doubt for the pair. Born from a “no fuss” attitude and their mutual distaste for waiting, the LP hit unsuspecting fans in the best way possible.
Part of the new wave of genre-fluid Australian rap, the LP has something for just about everyone. Raph Lauren’s production wizardry shines throughout the release, dipping in and out of hip-hop, pop and even trap, while never fully committing to either. Creating a unique and electrifying soundscape, the lyrical mastery is delivered through the melodic workings of MC Kai; whose deep-thinking social commentary reflects the new direction of Australian rap the band are at the forefront of.
Enlisting the help of fellow One Dayer’s including Spit Syndicate and Joyride, alongside Melbourne rapper Allday, and Jim Finn (Vydamo) from Art vs Science, Pristine Alley is full of summery soundscapes and creative lyrics. Vydamo lent his musical talent on ‘MIA’, hallmarking it as a super fun, definite window-down road trip anthem; it’s pop-infused melodies completely addictive and standout.
The album takes a darker turn with the song ‘Halloween’, though you wouldn’t know it by listening in passing. The production is reasonably upbeat with playful synths, but throughout with the darkness of the lyrical content, MC Kai tells the story of a young guy overdosing and what his friends do and think. The juxtaposition between lyrical content and production is entrancing and a testament to the boundary-pushing motivation of the duo.
The lowest point of the record in terms of engagement is ‘Thaaas Riiigh’. It features Joyride, Merc Swayze and Nicky Cash. There is nothing outwardly wrong with the track, however, I just didn’t gel with it like the rest of the release. The song kind of felt like it was trying too hard, and while I get that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously, it still felt a little uncomfortable in comparison to the rest of the album.
Pristine Alley takes its name from an unusually immaculate alleyway in Sydney’s otherwise less-than-pristine city streets, which has long been a preferred meeting spot for the duo and birthed many of the stories that have made their way in their music. This record has the energy to become a summer staple to both hip-hop and new listeners alike.