La zone en personne

La zone en personne

For French rapper Jul, releasing two albums per year has been standard practice since his debut in 2013. Oscillating between the minimalist, bar-focused Album Gratuit mixtapes and his more conceptual, guest-filled epics, the Marseille native proved his mettle as an unstoppable workhorse. However, in late 2017, he decided to go on a hiatus, stepping back to produce the debut album of a young rapper and future collaborator named Moubarak. Jul's retreat from the spotlight lasted six months—an eternity for his fans. Once he was back in the studio, he hit the ground running, releasing the club-ready Inspi d'ailleurs over the summer of 2018, and returning before the end of the year with a 40-track mega album titled La zone en personne. When asked about the protracted tracklist, Jul acknowledged his starved fans directly, saying that he beefed up the record to make up for not dropping an Album Gratuit throughout the year. La zone en personne is ruminant, if at times hypnotic in its repetitiousness, unfolding over thumping club beats and energetic choruses. The album got a major boost from the lead single, “Poussette,” which came accompanied by a neon-hued music video. Putting extra elbow grease into the record's visual identity, Jul released an animated clip for the techno-inflected “Chiron,” as well as a suspenseful mini-film for “Pablito,” which depicted the rise of a Marseille crime boss. He spins his tale alluding to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, as Spanish guitars and a breezy reggaetón beat set the deceptively casual mood. Jul peppers tongue-in-cheek musical references throughout La zone en personne, with the title track beat sounding like a Ratatat deep cut built on crunchy synths and lurching basslines. Later, on the romantic ballad “Ma che beauté,” a sparse dembow riddim is delightfully adorned with dreamy synth arpeggios. Keeping romance at the forefront of his mind, the electrified merengue of “Amore” is an invitation to take one’s beloved by the hand and kiss them in the middle of the dance floor. Meanwhile, the harrowing “Dans tes yeux” is a sobering reminder that once love has withered, no amount of gift-giving and hand-holding can hide the truth that lives behind one’s eyes.

Disc 1

Disc 2

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