Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Reviews:: J-Bru - Identity Crisis

The hill has history with J-Bru. Well hoops history I guess. The Ack played with Jason Bruce on the Grant Walsh all-stars and then against him in high school. I played against him when I was on the Jim Gannon no-stars, and I watched Ack play against him from the bench. Despite our shared hoops past, I wasn't aware of J-Bru's musical career until recently. Turns out this is his fourth album, but I'm guessing it'll be his biggest release as it's being distributed by urbnet/Universal.

From what I can cobble together via monsieur Google, J-Bru started out DJ-ing in Ottawa where he hooked up with fellow Halifax MC Spesh K. This association got him hooked up with Classified who has produced a number of tracks for Bru, including about half of Identity Crisis. I'm not sure if it's all the time he's been spending with Class, but Bru's lyrical approach is very similar to the "rappin' everyman" steez of the more recent Class albums.

I can't speak for everyone else, but this mature, honest approach to writing lyrics works for me. I mean, I like hearing Ghostface tell a story about the time he & Rae almost got jacked for their coke at the Hilton, probably more so than anyone you know, but on the other hand, it is nice to hear lyrics I can relate to. That being said, J-Bru has a bit more of a darker side than Class, and he does exercise some some demons in his lyrics from time to time.

The first single, Makin' People Say, has a classic, urr, Class beat and finds J-Bru in fine, braggadocios form. The stop-start pianos and catchy "oooooooh-ahhhh" vocal sample provide a solid background for J to drop lines like "I'll make you look stupid like wiggers on the Herring Cove road" and "be easy like Sackville girls". You might need to be Halifamous to find those funny, but the song is enjoyable either way. I Love You Ma opens with a snythified string loop that sounds like True Colors, or some other 80's song I can't place. Lyrically it's a frank look at Bru's childhood and an ode to his mother in the 2Pac (not Tupac then), Dear Mama style.

Sped up soul samples aren't dead. Well in my book anyway I suppose, and What R We Doin? backs that up nicely. The big drums and organ/guitar flourishes help as well. It provides an effective backdrop for Bru and the always solid Eternia to debunk the "make rap song, become zillionaire" myth: "I'ma show you how to cruise in the whip, it's called a j-o-b, as uncool as that is". Regular soul samples are just fine too, as proved on Help! I Been Robbed. Handclaps, a jangly guitar loop, and some quality verses from Jay Bizzy and Ghettosocks come together for one of the catchiest tracks I've heard in a while about getting jacked.

J-Bru does the demon exercising I mentioned earlier on tracks like It's Rainin' and I Got A Secret. The former is about J's ongoing struggle dealing with a friends' suicide a few years ago, and the latter deals with J being molested by a female family member as a kid. I won't give away the secret, but it kind of heavy, not the kind of thing you hear in a rap song everyday. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Tru Luv Part II, which is a double-time sex jam rapped on an answering machine. I'm fairly certain it's done tongue-in-cheek, but it's kind of terrible and is probably the only track I would've left off the album.

After all that are you still wondering if J-Bru's Identity Crisis is for you? Perhaps this line will convince you:

For all the people that remember Special Ed, I'm bringing rap back from the dead

Honestly I don't think that line will convince anyone of anything, I just like it. Even if you don't remember Special Ed, or aren't from Halifax, I'd still recommend you check out this album. J-Bru is a solid MC and the production provided by Classified and company is mostly good across the board. Lyrically the album is strong as well; there's no fake gangster nonsense here, J usually gives you something to think about on every song. So get in there, support some Canadian hip hop.

mp3:: Makin' People Say

Check out the video for Makin' People Say:

Posted at 9:22 PM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

I'm pretty sure the track about Bru's friend is called 'It's Rainin'


At 12:01 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Good eye. That's been fixed, thanks.


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