Chicago’s Jean Deaux is streaming her latest track, “XYZ”, via soundcloud and it’s a beauty — featuring St. Louis rapper Smino and produced by THEMpeople. “XYZ” is a slick downtempo jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun. The song calls to mind what D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar have been touching on lately, blending a kind of flexible soul with old-school familiarity and just enough modernity to keep every second fresh. It opens with a child proudly going through the beginning of the ABC’s before Deaux delivers her own unique style of rap: “Imma toss you the fee / Ain’t no refunding that / I’m giving you fevers like summer back / Surfin ya hands like it’s summer jam / I got the bass for the drummer pack / I light a match to the dumbest gas / You would think it was a bum in class / Roll with the wolves in the highest grass.” Deaux’s music is smooth, elegant, sophisticated, playfully random and immensely re-playable. The arrangement is Birth of Cool cool and the hook drips with pretty vocal sensuality. Follow Jean Deaux at soundcloud, twitter and tumblr. Note: Photo from the artist’s tumblr page. Read more about Deaux in TBB archives. — David D. Robbins Jr.