Skip to content

Keelay & Zaire Present: Ridin’ High

This compilation album plays more like a mixtape than a traditional record, with features from folks as varied as Planet Asia, Darrien Brockington, Phonte (of Little Brother), Tash (of Tha Liks), and Golden Warrior veteran Saafir. Certainly there’s plenty to like, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fluff n’ stuff.

Starting off with funk in your face—the silky bass line of “The Intro,” the guitar licks and snappy drums of “Take a Ride”—the album takes a moment to catch its stride. Once the songs take a turn to more hip-hop backdrops (Rasco and Slo Mo join Asia on “Cali 2 NY”), which sound like something concocted by Havoc of Mobb Deep fame, there’s a sense that you’re cruising the highways instead of just hitting corners.

“I used to Ride” struts along on an Ooompa Loompa horn wrapped around an old Kanye-style sample and gangsta lyrics. However, it’s this nod to the pioneering work of Dr. Seuss and West that makes it work.

From there, the cross country road trip finds its way to Dre-influenced G-Funk. And these songs are where the greatest success of the album comes. Ghostly keys coupled with the late night smokiness of “I’m On Swerv” is a true highlight, while the “Sole Ides Interlude” brings to mind the best of the Ruthless Records years.

Though there are smatterings of jazz interspersed—the smooth, life affirming “Wake Up,” which sounds a lot like something that might have been performed by Colorado’s own Future Jazz Project—with R&B (affectionately known as rap and bullshit to the uninitiated), you never feel like you’re taking a side trip. Plus, you can hardly go wrong with Phonte, whose turn with singer Dminor on “Alright With Me” isn’t too far from sounding like a winning collaboration with his former partner/producer 9th Wonder.

Suffice it to say, producers these days are no longer content to just mine one specific genre. You’ve got to be able to get your Polow Da Don and Timbaland on; the ability to cross pollinate music is a big business. And Keelay and Zaire are no exception. At least, that’s what this “demo” suggests, as they cross boundaries on the road to future success. Based on this project, they should be able to ride high for years to come.

Play: Trapped, Beautiful…Dip on: Take a Ride


Sign up to our newsletter and get updates to your mailbox