Jay Worthy and Kamaiyah are both California stalwarts committed to keeping tried-and-true West Coast music alive. Worthy’s smooth, almost monotone reflections on street life tend to be couched in stately G-funk and wavy samples, while Kamiayah’s airy dirty-macking tales usually glide over the bounce of hyphy, sounding like Too $hort with a taste for AutoTune. Both have a penchant for autobiography and fly shit, and when they get together, like on 2020’s “Bullshit” or last year’s “Good Lookin’”, they sound like naturals. It’s as though they should already have five albums and yearly nationwide tours together.
Now they’ve finally released a full-length project,The Am3rican Dream, produced by Harry Fraud. Largely known for his adaptable sample-based production, the New York producer meets his collaborators halfway, offering a mix of traditional East Coast loops and sunny G-funk for their slick pimp talk. This is Kamaiyah’s first time rapping over samples for a full project, and the simmering, mid-tempo beats give her sing-song vocals room to breathe. She soars over the synth rock of “Entrepreneur.” On “Ragtop Riches,” she slinks between twinkling keys and bass as she grills a potential new girlfriend about what her sugar daddy does. The beats don’t coax her to new places lyrically, but it’s nice to hear her stunt over a different backdrop.
Meanwhile, Worthy is fully in his comfort zone, telling straightforward stories about his lifestyle like a mafia don lounging in an easy chair. Every action—hitting rivals in the head with Hennessy bottles, hitting the stroll with sex workers and drug dealers—is rendered in the same amber hue, like he’s living out a movie in real time. That said, his writing lacks the specificity of fellow mack-daddy savants like Larry June or Roc Marciano. His ideas can occasionally grow stale: “Figueroa Fortunes,” where he flies solo over smooth yacht rock guitars, is just a checklist of lust, drugs, and money that sounds labored and awkward.
Their styles may be different, but Worthy and Kamaiyah play off of their contrasting approaches well. Take the triumphant closer “Streetlights,” where they both share success stories over a drumless synth line and a wailing vocal sample. Worthy delivers a ruff-and-tumble recounting of beating federal cases and basking in musical heroes like Oakland rap legend Spice 1. Kamaiyah acknowledges how she went from being a neglected child to major-label hopeful to staunch indie artist who still snagged big-time co-signs. Each verse is inspiring on its own, but the interplay between Worthy’s stoicism and Kamaiyah’s melodies brings both accounts into clearer resolution.
Both Worthy and Kamaiyah are so charismatic and laidback, they seem to not care if you’re listening to them or not. They bring sauce to even the most banal observations, which, on top of Fraud’s consistently plush production, makes THE AM3RICAN DREAM float by in a cool haze. It’s not adventurous, but it sits just right like your favorite New Era fitted.