Trust the process. It’s a phrase that’s exploded in notoriety since the Philadelhpia 76ers started being relevant once again, but one that also has plenty to do with the steady growth that has been occurring on West Chicago Avenue for the last few years. During that time, independent label Closed Sessions has served as an incubator for talent both from Chicago and not. Artists double as pupils, sometimes literally. For his part though, rapper Ajani Jones is an example of leaning into what the collective has to offer and finding himself in the process. That’s the sentiment at least on Jones’ latest full-length, Dragonfly released back in August.
The project is introspective in nature, a trend that’s become the norm for artists emerging from this particular camp and there’s features from the family sprinkled throughout including Jack Red, Boathouse and an appearance by Iris Temple. It takes a lot to do more than regurgitate the hegemonic tendency of what’s happening now. Jones opts for the little extra, and creates a duality of soul and sharp-edged rhymes that sets a strong base to work from. A single can simply be hot, embarking on a full-length needs something a bit more, a connective tissue, an attempt at a larger motif. It’s what makes creating a body of art so unique. Amidst a sea of EPs, Jones goes for it here and, while he shows he has room to grow, does so in a way that proves ability and passion over flavor-of-the-month aesthetics.
The sustained development of the artists that have emerged from Closed Sessions has been a continuing storyline for the last five years, six this weekend actually. While that’s true, this project feels like the one that levels the overall group to that on-deck circle for 2020. The proof is in the work, and anyone can tell there’s talent here. From here, it’s just a matter of how to organize it, craft the messaging and continue to grow. Dragonfly is a talented project that got several replays. But, it moreso got me excited for what’s coming next.