Ajani Jones Embraces Progression In His 'Cocoons' EP
“Let this cocoon be your growth”
These are the words that kick off the latest EP from Ajani Jones, the newest signee to Closed Sessions. Closed Sessions is a local label trafficking exclusively in thoughtful music, and this Southside rapper fits perfectly, an artist who’s talent far outstrips his name recognition to this point. Now with a proper platform with which to express himself, Jones has dropped his newest project Cocoons, a literary EP that explores the growth he’s experienced to this point, from the Southside to Closed Sessions and everywhere in between.
His pen and tongue are both sharp, and always have been. More than ever, on Cocoons we see Ajani Jones rapping in mazes, his songs are like a house of mirrors splitting words and sentences into unexpected directions. His style is undeniably old-school, arriving with better-than-you raps immediately, but keeps it fresh with an embrace of 2018 weirdness. The flow always switches, and the beats always move in left-field.
This is where much of the growth exists. Ajani Jones could always write lyrics, but Cocoons sees him writing songs. Each hook takes a life of its own, often foregoing complexity for complexities sake in favor of memorability. By doing this, it gives the listener breathing space between his mile a minute verses, which aren’t easy listening but require focus to fully absorb. This is most evident on “Pyramids”, where the verse and chorus weave in and out of each other seamlessly.
Thematically, Cocoons is exploring the same growth we hear on display. Beginning with “Crystals”, Ajani is explaining how he takes on his opponents by outthinking his competition - “look at what you started / look at what you started / dropping crystals on them.“ The progression is evident. “Wolves” remarks on the same progress in question, an analysis of steel sharpening steel. “I’ve been in tune with my soul / like morpheus give you options, you willing to grow? / This progress is conquest / in waves encountering many foes / from the land where like anything goes.”
The growth applies to his personal life as well. Addressing everything from the challenges of growing up out south, dealing with debt, or making the jump from struggle rapper to signee, Ajani puts it all on record - “been evicted from homes, I’ve got 6 figures in loans.”
But finally, there’s the writing itself, insightful and alive. Ajani uses extended metaphors masterfully. The best example may be on “Pyramids”, where he explains his recent state of being. “I’ve been feeling like a Pharaoh / meditated feel it in my spirit by the meadows / you was there for me when I was lost and in the desert / never take for granted, see my mind I expanded and branded / good vibes turn into a sphinx when you pray five times to the east / I’ve been searching for the love in my city / I was running down king drive, running from the belly of the beast and they call that the low end”
Ajani’s growth culminates in “Bloom”, the last track of the project. "Motherfucker this bloom / motherfucker this growth / my time is coming soon". Now at home at Closed Sessions, the sky is the limit for Ajani Jones - “I spread my wings so high / and I don’t know how long it’s taken.” Now he’s arrived, the cocoon behind him on the ground and open air all around him.