LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - "It's like having a funeral for yourself while you're still alive. This is who fools with me. This is tight."
That's how Paducah native Jef Jon Sin describes his listening party in Louisville for his new album, Irene.
Bourbon Barrel Studios is all of about 600 square feet. Now imagine that space packed with about 50-60 people. And, imagine those people being some of the most influential taste makers on Kentucky's hip-hop scene.
The video cameras are rolling. Friends and colleagues are taking pics together for Instagram and trying to capture as much of the vibe as they can in 10-second Snapchat videos. Strangers are shaking hands and exchanging contact info.
Jef gathers everybody into the recording room. It's so crowded! But nobody seems to mind. The anticipation is serious.
"Thanks everybody very much for showing up, this personally means a lot to me." says Jef. "I personally invited all of you. You're all friends and family. You all saw what happened in Paris with Kanye West. That was a pivotal, career-changing moment. Ever since then, I knew I had to put something out that meant something, something that could stand the test of time, something that represents me."
Jef goes on to explain that he has taken all of his previous work off iTunes and Spotify. Irene will be the only piece that represents him online, moving forward.
The album was born in Los Angeles when Jef returned from Europe. The birthplace: a 1989 Fleetwood Bounder - the same RV they cooked meth in on Breaking Bad. Symbolism at its best.
Sounds by Coop created all but two of the tracks on Irene. Jef also credits him for developing a mind state that allowed Jef to open up about personal experiences like he's never done in the past.
"What's the one thing you want people to know about you before you die?" asked Coop. Jef immediately thought about his grandmother, whom the album is titled for. She always told Jef to treat people the way he wanted to be treated. She wrote 'Be A Good Boy' on all his birthday and Christmas cards. Her signature is featured on the album's cover art.
Press play. The room goes silent. The first beat drops. Dozens of heads begin bopping in sync to the music. Everybody is feeling it.
There are no words to write that describe the vibe and mood in the room while the eleven tracks play continuously. To attempt to do so would be unjust. Although it's cliche', it's one of those moments that you just have to be there.
When the album is finished playing, everyone proverbially exhales. They have traveled to a place some could never imagine. Jef Jon Sin has taken hip-hop to another planet, maybe even another galaxy.
The evening culminates outside the studio with group photos, hugs and sayonaras. Each person is thinking about the number of days left until they can have Irene all to themselves.
That date is April 12. Irene will make her way onto all major music streaming sites. She will become one with plastic discs known as CDs. She will be played at loud volumes, preferably in residential areas.
Irene track list:
01 700 Days
03 The Truth
04 No Ones Around
05 Nothing New
06 Irene (feat Karina Karina)
07 U Baby
09 Go Home (feat Karina Karina)
10 Mom, I Love You
11 Good Life
If you are not familiar with Jef' Jon Sins impromptu performance for Kanye West in Paris, click here to watch.