Here's a few random phrases from the press kit for "The Need For Speed" to kickstart your review reading experience: "underground Miami music scene," "this year's breakout rapper," "his popular Transformers based mixtape series," "reflect his hustle," "a representation of changing lane music." That's who J.Carr is, and while "The Need For Speed" might easily be confused for a similarly named video game on most Google searches, that won't stop him from taking his automotive theme "Full Throttle" on the album's first full track.
"Geah, many miles in a lifeline
Seen a lot of lost trials in a lifetime
Grab the keys, my need is for the speed
A Jeep can not compete with my feets upon the streets
Hey! Stay gassed up, so I hit the top gear
No fear, steer clear of obstacles that's out there
So I keep that hat to the back
with the pedal to the metal, stay truth to the max"
Like his fellow "underground Miami music scene" rappers, J.Carr is brimming with confidence even though he admits he "has yet to see the charts." That's not going to stop him from making his "changing lane music" with 500 horsepower of attitude under the hood and in every song title. Even when his pedal to the metal attitude has his radiator reaching the "Boiling Point," he'll enlist a Marvin Gaye or Otis Redding soundalike to croon on his tune and cool things down:
"Another 9 to 5, I'll be damned if I go back
or choose to be a brand new Son of Sam in a throwback
Fundamental, that's the way I live my life
Too much pride for suicide so I keep myself alive
Sittin right beside a 9 lookin at the wall, wall lookin back
Had me surrounded by unfinished raps
Used to shut my trap - now I'm standin up don't take no crap
Already fallin off the edge so there is no turnin back"
You might get the impression life's a bitch and then you die from a track like that, but most of the time the songs "reflect his hustle" and show he's already achieved the success he dreamed of. That's why he's "In That Coupe" and you'll see "The Carr (Ridin' 24's)" up and down the Miami streets - and if he's not "In That Coupe" he's in a "Caprice Classic." You have to give J.Carr this much credit in spite of what may be excessive hyperbole - he picked a theme and stuck with it for the majority of this 47 minute album. He also deserves credit for a clear diction to his flow, making his automotive raps easy to follow along with, and the production is average to slightly above average for most emcees who say they're "this year's breakout rapper." DJ61 provides a good bass hit for "Custom Autho" and a nicely crunk sound for "Things You Do" among other tracks, as he seems to produce or co-produce nearly everything on the album save for the title track.
In the grand scheme of things though if we're being honest with each other, reviewer to reader, "The Need For Speed" is not going to get many repeat listens from me. It's the classic hip-hop conundrum as far as I'm concerned - classic as his Caprice if you like - that he's neither whack enough for me to totally shit on nor dope enough for me to praise to the sky. J.Carr is just "there" - stuck right in the middle. The production doesn't elevate him, but it doesn't lower him. The topic material doesn't make him stand out, but it doesn't make him fall off. I can see why he'd have a "popular mixtape series" - he's good enough that if somebody gave you a download for free you'd take it. To me there's something missing though - he may be from Miami but you could easily interchange him for any of the Young Money members not named Drake, Tyga or Wayne. He sounds like everything else, so he doesn't really sound like anything distinctive. It's a coin flip whether he'll progress beyond this point to someone who stands out, or if he'll fall to the wayside and wind up at that 9 to 5 job that he so clearly dreads.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: May 15th, 2012