Scheduled to bring his effortlessly unflappable rhymes and beats to the Volcanic Theatre Pub on Thursday, was half of the prolific duo The Cool Kids, Chuck Inglish. Unfortunately, a last minute cancellation of all of Inglish's Oregon dates, Bend among them, is a big letdown for the sparse, but growing hip-hop community. Local producer, DJ and rapper Jay Tablet was set to MC the defunct show, but is doing quite a job sustaining a lively hip-hop scene locally without the Inglish show. He will depart on a northwest tour at the end of this month that wraps with a show on Oct. 4 at Dojo. His most recent release West Ghostin' is a banger and a gem from one of the leaders in the Bend hip-hop scene.
Bendite Jay Tablet's latest hip-hop album, West Ghostin', comes to the party wearing a tuxedo with tails and high top sneakers; it's as urban as it is urbane.
"I moved to Bend, Ore., in October 2004," explained Tablet. "I was only 20 and couldn't get in the 'bar' scene to play shows, so we threw house parties and rocked till the booze ran out or the cops came. Then rocked the downtown scene for four to five years. Now we are touring venue to venue spreading the word across borders and representing Bend, Ore., on a larger scale."
Tablet turns in his best record to date trading on the strength of slow churning beats that swell and roll like the Bering Sea. Bass breaks against sharp, punchy synth and Tablet—aided by friends like Rory Onders and Keegan Smith—drops plush, snappy raps that draw from the refined sound of Oakland via London rapper Charlie Tate and his hip-hop collective Colossus, as well as guttural grinds of artists like Schoolboy Q. And it does it all while remaining a great album to background a sweaty house soiree.
Tablet wastes no time cashing in on its carousing cache; the album's second track, "To the Zone," catches Tablet getting a little randy as he paints the picture of a simmering, close encounter in the middle of a summery dance floor that leads to a purring kitty cat and twerking for cash. And despite the crass implications of those lyrics, never once does the song sound like anything but a high-class tune, smooth to the end; it's only problem being that it clocks in at a disappointing minute, forty-four.
Tablet keeps the party going with the slow grooves of "Feeling Good," featuring Chandler P and Tablet's former Cloaked Characters cohort and record producer Rory Onders as well as "Note to Self." Both conjure up images of living rooms stuffed with college students illuminated by floor lamps sporting the requisite weekend-only black lights.
"I feel like this album was more 'in-house.' I kind of had no restrictions or schedule. If I had time, I'd record. If I had time, I'd produce. Six months later I had an album," explained Tablet. "I worked a lot with Ken Bryant to add the live element from his guitar. You can hear him on 'One Time,' 'Sloth,' and 'Winston Woods.' Also KEEZ, Dead Giveaway Beats, Tyeze, and myself had beats on there."
West Ghostin' is punctuated by the song "All I" featuring Portland's Keegan Smith. Washed in a catchy reggae chorus and guitar, the track is the album's lone departure from hip-hop standards and one that finds Tablet stretching his flow to cover a song that splurges in top 40 sensibilities; completing the record's ambition to be a dope party album.