"I'm from west side Seattle, ya'll ain't heard me." For most of us, this is a straight-up fact. Show of hands for anyone that has heard of J Brown...I didn't think so. That is not to say that there is a particularly good reason you haven't heard of him seeing that he has the mic control and sensibilities of most commercial rappers that have seen success in recent times. It's an unfortunate truth that rap is so oversaturated in certain areas that you may never hear a talent like J Brown if you don't hail from Seattle.
The major hurdle that one can prophesize in J Brown's future is the fact that he sounds uncannily like 50 Cent on many of his tracks, if not in part on all of his tracks. When a character like this comes around in the rap world they often are heavily scrutinized as a faker, Guerrilla Black anyone? However, J Brown tones down the violent side of 50 and focuses more on the party 50 on this self-titled debut from Soul of Seattle Recordings. The album kicks off with sporadic, hip-shaking, keyboards on "Change". The comparison to 50 lingers when the beat seems to be a straight from Dr. Dre's boards and he sets it off with a few entertaining verses that won't boggle any minds, but he proves to have a great ability to blend his lyrics with the beat provided. His second verse goes like so:
"Fake niggaz come and go
Don't even call them my friends
They know how to pretend
so I just begin to
Shake em off like Mariah Currey
They say watch your back, but I ain't worried
I'm goin' to hit 'em with somethin' scurry
A glock 30
I'm goin' to reach down South and get Dirty Dirty
I'm from west side Seattle, ya'll ain't heard me
Got a slur with the flow, fuck speaking clearly
A lotta niggaz rhyme, but ain't standing near me
They claim to be gangsta, but these cowards fear me
Yes, you now rockin' with the best, spend cash, cash checks
Blessed to with the gift to make the dough flip
Call me the baker man, patty cake make grands
And ain't no fuckin' with me, I turn on ya so quick, like the game did 50
I make a lot of Bills, but I need a Lewinsky
My mom raised a hustla, but I'm not Cassidy
I'm a hustla, I'm a I'm, I'm a Hustla homey...."
As you can probably tell, the content is not what will impress, but rather, the way he delivers it is a joy to listen to. It also must be noted that he feels like the game turned on 50 in one line, which is interesting given his choice to model himself after the Queens superstar. The verses are complimented with a nice sing song chorus, that sets a continuous trend with the next track "Get Inside My Car", which has an similar title to a track on "The Massacre" called "Get In My Car". "Get Inside My Car", J Brown's track, is actually better than 50's offering and this is the point that a realization sets in that Brown has truly perfected the art of jacking. Like 50, J Brown has a grimy kind of romantic sentiment that he expresses on "Blow Out Session". The faux 50 is perhaps at his best with this, the opening verse of the track:
"First we started kissing
Then we got to rubbing
Take off your pants shorty
Then we'll be fuckin'
I know that ya never had it quite like this before
Got you bitin' on my neck and fuckin' like the dogs
I ain't goin' to treat you like them other whores
I dig a little deeper and you sayin' it yours
And I'm sayin' it's mines
I hit it hard from behind
Got ya diggin' in my back from the way that I grind"
It is the kind of narcissism that you have come to expect from the typical rapper today. J Brown missteps on a couple of occasions, especially on "Blow Your Mind" that sounds like it missed a few stages in production. The beat is too minimal to compliment J Brown's flow, it sounds like a sample of a car revving its engine and a high pitch synth. The imposter reggae-infused smoke anthem, "Smoke With Me" is somewhat of an embarrassment, which is a shame because a reggae inspired chorus can prove to be highly effective if done properly. "Shake That" sounds like something you would hear on BET's defunct "Uncut" show at 3am and that is not a compliment. It clocks in at 2:48, which just adds to the idea that this was never a piece that was conceptual enough to flesh a full track out of. The common tie to these songs is that J Brown does not sing his own hook for them, so it only hurts the final product, because when he misses, he misses hard.
It came to consideration whether it was fair to give a good review, or even a decent review to someone that jocks another's style. As long as they do it well it is and J Brown's release does enough to fill the void for those waiting for 50's follow up to "The Massacre", or those that are sick of hearing the non-stop Dipset beef. Ultimately, this album is a far lesser album than "Get Rich or Die Tryin'", but about as good as "The Massacre". More importantly, I know it may not seem like it, it comes down to J Brown showing his potential to create infectious tracks, no matter the influence. Hopefully, J Brown will evolve into a musician that represents himself with the type of originality to match his charisma.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 20, 2007