Friday, July 13, 2007

Reviews:: Mr. J. Medeiros - Of Gods & Girls

Mr. J. Medeiros, Jason Medeiros to his friends and telephone bank tellers, has stories to tell. Based on his name alone, you might think those stories are about runway techniques and are told on America's (Or Canada's) next top model. But this is not so. Mr J. is an MC, the kind of MC that usually has a point to make, or a story to tell, when he rhymes. I know that's a bit out there for today's hip hop climate, but it can be a good thing. Whether it's the ladies, the evils of child porn, addiction, female body-image issues, or cash-flow problems, Mr. J. has something tangible to discuss on every track. When you add that to the stellar production found on Of Gods And Girls, you get an album that is very likely worth your time.

When you consider that Mr. J is 1/3 of the Colorado Springs, Colorado (although now LA based) group The Procussions, it might not be surprising that he has such a social focus on his solo album. Although they received a fair bit of mainstream attention, the Procussions have a rep as a "Christian Rap" group that certainly didn't smash you over the dome with the god hammer, but they certainly allude to the big man upstairs in their music. Or at least that's what I've read, as I haven't heard the album. If you and I can be honest, and I feel we can, ever since getting burned by the Dynamic Twins back in the day, I've steered clear of anything labeled "Christian Rap". That's why I haven't heard the Procussions album, but I'm glad my holy hip hop bias didn't keep me from hearing this one.

Mr. J doesn't have the most commanding presence on the mic, but he is certainly very comfortable and his flow has a very listenable quality that makes his songs work, despite the sometimes heavy subject matter. Amelie kicks things off on a "girl as goddess", laid-back vibe that uses organ, horns, and guitar licks to nice effect. It also features a verse a verse from a french MC who may or may not be MC Solaar (note: it is not MC Solaar), but it's something you don't hear everyday. Constance is the first single being promoted from this album, and that makes sense as it makes the biggest impact of any song on the album. Over big drums, J. tells a story that shows the insidiousness of child porn, a subject you wouldn't expect a hip hop artist to take on.

The Jazzy guitar licks of Change lighten the mood and find Mr. J joined by fellow Procussion Rez as well as the Strange Fruit Project. King Of Rock Bottom features DJ Vajra scratching DMC on the chorus and Mr. J discussing the evils of the firewater (but oh the positives!) over a dense beat. Keep Pace has one of the catchiest beats on the album with uptempo drums, strings and fluctuating vocal samples that build to a crescendo at the chorus. Pigeon John and some cool organ join Mr J. on Money, a jam about the way the ole cashola can mess with us. The sweeping Call You caps the album off with a heartfelt tribute to Mr. J's parents. Well it isn't officially the final track as there are 4 remixes at the end of the album, but it's the last original song.

Those remixes bring to mind one of my current music pet peeves: album length. For years now, hip hop albums have been waaaay too long. However, this is an album that shows how it can be done right in 2007. It's 12 strong original songs, and then 4 remixes. That means it's still 16 songs long, but I don't mind the remixes as they're more like bonus content and I know up front that Mr. J. isn't trying to fool me into thinking I'll be getting 16 new songs. In fact, Mr. J. gets plenty of things right on this album. It isn't hip hop perfection, but it does a very good job addressing serious issues in a enjoyable way. Not always easy too find, and that's probably what I like most about the album: when I feel like some substance, I can play the album and get into the lyrics, but if I feel like zoning out, it's still strong enough musically to satisfy. Again, not an easy to find these days, so I'd say Of Gods And Girls is worth checking out.

mp3:: Mr. J. Medeiros - Constance

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Posted at 7:45 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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