Part of the mid-2000s wave of rappers to come out of Oakland, J. Stalin is one of the Bay Area’s most prolific emcees with a pointed, raspy voice and an impressive work ethic. Since 2006, he’s released more than 36 records, dropping as many as six projects in 2016 alone. He (finally) dropped the sequel to his debut album, On Behalf of The Streets 2, last year, and, as its name suggests, it’s a gritty, candid recounting of life in the hood, filled with sinister piano chords and rum- bling bass. My personal favorite is 2015’s Tears of Joy, an album that Stalin says was inspired by the strength and love he got from his son during a tough time in his life when everything else pretty much sucked. It’s more upbeat and decidedly less street and gangster than his other works, and highlights include “What’s My Name,” a cymbal-filled joint that showcases Stalin’s singing abilities; “Selling Crack,” a parable about drug use overlaid with an ominous synth line; and “Fuck Rite,” a perky track with sticky percussion and a funky beat.
J. Stalin at 9 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at Venue in Oakland. $20; songkick.com