While growing up in Houston, Jneiro Jarel hooked up with local MC's Hi-Five, YZ, and Special Ed, landing him opening gigs for Mobb Deep, The Geto Boys and the Pharcyde.
After a few years in New York, where he was discovered by Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy) at a Black Lily gig, Jarel landed in Philly, collaborating with such diverse acts as Rich Medina, Jazzanova, Fertile Ground, and Vinia Mojica. These collaborations allowed this skilled jazz trumpeter to further integrate himself into the Philly Soul scene, and it was only inevitable that he would release his debut album on notable underground label Ropeadope.
Three Piece Puzzle, futher elaborates on the "Philly Sound" that was created by such notables as Jazzy Jeff (the A Touch of Jazz Jazzy, not the Will Smith sidekick one), The Roots, and Jill Scott. The Brooklyn-born MC's aim on his debut album is the combine his loves of hip-hop, jazz, and abstract sounds.
Crunk this is not. The 17 tracks on this album are a soulful blend of chilled out hip-hop. Case in point, "N.A.S.A.", featuring Dr Who Dat? and Roc Wun, which contains such an airy and organic sound that 9th Wonder might start getting jealous. The only dance floor track on this album ("Jneirieireooo!!!!!"), is just an interlude.
Unlike The Minstrel Show, (a CD which I'm using for comparison purposes), each track on this album has a distinct sound. Songs such as "Lemmie See Yuh" or "Do Yo Thang" might have a mellow, ATCQ vibe, but then the production team would flip the script with the futuristic styles of songs like "Get Yuh Own" or "Black Cinderella."
The only downfall of this album is that there are songs that tear a page directly out of ATCQ playbook, and Jarel openly admits it. "Let's Get Wit It," actually name checks Tribe and it sounds like one of the lost songs from The Low End Theory.
The verdict: If you're getting tired of Little Brother and you want something reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest then check out Three Piece Puzzle. This jazz concept album should hold ya'll over until the day when they finally release Kamaal the Abstract.