Is this just another mixtape or an official release? After a string of mixtape releases from JR Writer, it's what many people ask. Initially gaining popularity from the New York based hip hop collective, The Diplomats or Dipset, founded by Cam'ron, Jim Jones, and Freekey Zeekey, JR Writer now continues on with new endeavors of his own while looking past the ongoing Dipset friction. Since his debut with Dipset in 2003 and releasing his first mixtape of the "Writer's Block" series in 2004, he incessantly created tension with his battle rhymes towards Memphis Bleek, Jae Millz, and Mase. Moving forward, JR Writer managed to hook up with Koch Records and released "History in the Making" in 2006 and was recently signed to Babygrande Records to release his newest installation "Writer's Block 5." After a seven figure record deal with Babygrande and with hopes of commencing the start of his own label, he attempts a different tactic by straying away from the mixtape format and leaning towards a more traditional album release. Obviously, JR Writer has a lot on his plate to deal with and comes back with full force in his official album release of "Writer's Block 5" to once again prove himself as an emcee.
The loud fanfare of horns in "Intro" commences the newest installation from JR Writer. A sampled "Rocky" anthem with an added heavy bass is used to initiate a triumphant beginning to the album as JR Writer praises himself for his accomplishments and skills. With his noted battle rap verses which have made him accepted in the hip hop scene, yet have caused rivalry, he continues the same lyricism in "Major" and "Where You At." JR Writer's verses falter in "Major" with its rudimentary rhymes including "leave you curled up like a hair activator." Alternatively, "Where You At" provides some great production with its introduction of ominous sounds and strings throughout the track. JR Writer conveys the message that he's at war with other rappers to gain great financial status as he identifies himself as an unmistakable emcee. With his militaristic style video to accompany the track, JR Writer is definitely at war in the hip-hop scene.
Even with production from Young Hott, Spectacular, Oddz.N.Endz, SoulStarmuseeQ, Cookin' Soul, and JR Writer himself, "Writer's Block 5" is a hit or miss. The fast paced beat with a multiplicity of synths and sounds similar to horns in "Got It Covered" is a definite hit. Its upbeat sound carries through the track and keeps the listener intrigued. "Heavy Jewelz" is yet another track that displays stellar production with its grimy, synthesized sounds and deviant tones. With a hard hitting bass and snare as the introduction for "Beast Mode," JR Writer quickly releases his fierce lyricism to match the intensity of the track's bold sound.
Unfortunately, "Runner" fails to deliver the type of production in the abovementioned tracks with its cartoon influenced sounds seems more fitting on children's' Saturday morning animations. JR Writer's lyricism on the track also strays away from him usual fierceness and lays down some mediocre verses instead. In an attempt to diversify the sounds in "Writer's Block 5" with a funk infused, b-boy beat in "We Gettin' It Baby," the regrettable thing is that JR Writer's verses and delivery don't match the beat. I, for one, am used to his verses on grimy, east coast beats so this twist in sound was not comforting. Not only that, his style and cadence was off throughout the track as if he was missing a beat the whole time.
Personifying hip hop has been used over and over again so it was shame to see JR Writer make the same mistake in "Dear Hip-Hop." Like the previous hundreds of songs to do the same, this one is also staged as if JR Writer is writing a letter to his friend "hip-hop."
Opportunely, the album redeems itself with the stand out track "Make a Move" which features Slim of 112. Siren-like sounds and Slim's harmonious vocals commence the first-rate track definitely ready for radio play. Its choppy sounds of synths and wide array of electronic sounds gives the track a more futuristic impression while JR Writer aims his lyricism towards his female audience.
Obviously, JR Writer is far from having "writer's block" in "Writer's Block 5" and has defined himself as the emcee everyone once knew. His recent changes from Dipset to an indie label like Babygrande has proved to be a challenge while proving that he is an artist that can make a real album and not just mixtapes. While making mixtapes initially put his name out, JR Writer's development as an artist has significantly changed through the years as his lyricism has progressed as well. Although his signature battle raps and Dominican flair supersede the rest, he still has some catching up to do in the meantime. As of now, we'll have to see what label he'll go to next and if there's another album or yet another mixtape to come.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: January 22, 2008