John Sportin, hailing from BK, the home of such luminaries as... well I don't need to spell out how many dope MC's hail from Brooklyn, this ain't kindergarten. Nope, this is the new school of rappers, and Sportin is definitely one to watch, especially as he just won a mildly diverting Hot 97 sponsored gig "Who's Got Next" - in other words, a live showcase for the next big thing. Which is a pretty big thing. And here is his shameless Senator-plugging mixtape, a definite cut above your average.
So what of John Sportin? First off, his deadliest attribute has to be his distinct voice - part Biggie, part BK-style Jeezy, but very much unique. If you hear him spit, it is near impossible to mistake him for anyone else, and how often can we say that nowadays? With so many MC's peppering the landscape, standing out becomes more and more difficult by the day. As for the lyrics, he is solid enough to be labeled "promising," even if those words don't immediately jump off the page. More impressive is the level of artistry - here we have a balanced artist that can mix club bangers with street slammers, bragging with shagging, politics with hollow tips.
Having listened to "Sport Obama," it becomes easy to forget that this is a mixtape, not an album. It flows together well and contains various highlights - the stand out being the absolutely genre-shaking "Rude Boy." New York may be geographically closer to The Islands, but London is the second spiritual home of Jamaica - and I've heard enough good/bad Patois rapper accents to make me an expert... Sportin's accent is pretty good, and the song is even better. A sample of "Get Up, Stand Up" starts things off before a languid beat kicks in, and the MC blends menace with disinterest (in the way that only a true shotta Jamaican rude bwoy can) to startling effect. In all honesty, he should do anything he can to get this track an official worldwide release - it would tear shit UP this summer.
Other peaks include "10's A Flow" which works well, as well as lighter moments such as "The Yaki Weave Song" (the "Sensual Seduction" piss-take), and "Get It Popping." It is also wonderful to see a rapper giving back to the community as such an early stage in his career, and the Beneficial Music Group seems to be backing up their words with actions. A nice balance of hijacked beats and originals is always the way to go, and Sportin doesn't really make too many mistakes here. Perhaps his lyrics need to step up a level, if he really does want to make the kind of impact that his BK heroes made, but one should remember that this is the start of a career, not the end. Thus, allow a promising young talent to blossom and improve, and we could be onto a live one here, bwoy.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: May 20, 2008