It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’ve been waiting for Fly Exam for over a year. When Humble Beast uploaded J Givens’ JackPot in August, my mind was blown! I instantly went and downloaded El v. Envy. I ate that record up! And I have been waiting and waiting for Fly Exam!
Fly Exam doesn’t disappoint. I expected this record to be one of the best records of the year and that’s how I feel after half a dozen listens. There’s nothing to hate about Fly Exam.
Ignoranto is a blistering intro to the record. J Givens brings the same fire I heard on Jackpot and I’m hooked. From there the record kind of feels like a mixtape for a couple of songs. I really like Butterfly Stance and Fahrenheit 99 but they feel a bit out-of-place. I’m not sure where they would’ve fit better in the record, but coming out of Ignoranto they feel a little forced.
So Fly is, in my opinion, the best track and best hook on the record. The chorus hit and I was sold and couldn’t stop singing it. 10, 2 Get In with Odd Thomas is a great track and if you’ve watched the video, you know that creativity is a high priority for J Givens! Jackie Hill Perry is my favorite part of Attack of the Clones and my favorite guest appearance on Fly Exam.
The record is “split” into two parts (according to the liner notes) and the title track feels like the dividing line between the parts. A bit of a throwback/Michael Jackson Thriller style track that I wish we have more of.
The second half of the record is where I feel Givens shines! Daniel Steele’s production on Lost in Space is nuts! And the interplay between Givens rhymes and Marz Ferrer’s hook is perfect! Hummingbird Stance feels classic in inspiration without feeling old. Super Lowkey gets me hyped up every time! The dark tones in the beat that Courtland provided are great! John Givez brings a Fugees vibe to Take Off With Me. They Said There’d Be Jetpacks is an absolute perfect closing track and just makes me want more!
Even though there are moments on Fly Exam that I don’t always understand in the context of the record, the songs are all on point and I keep coming back to the record. It’s been in my car and on my iTunes constantly since it was released. It’s the best hip-hop record I’ve heard this year! 5 out of 5 Stars!