J. Rawls - The Hip-Hop Affect

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With its solid beats and rhymes, The Hip Hop Affect does a commendable job of showcasing what good Hip Hop is.

The intro to The Hip Hop Affect will either completely turn a listener on or discourage him from hearing out the rest of the album. As a soulful beat bumps in the background, J. Rawls' young son Joshy asks him a simple question: “What does Hip Hop feel like?” Considering the man who was asked is the producer behind songs by Mos Def and Talib Kweli as Black Star, Slum Village and others, many Hip Hop heads would drool at the prospect of J. Rawls to school listeners on Hip Hop's essence amongst today's evolved, commercialized times. Meanwhile, other listeners will see it as a dreadful, archaic effort to live in the past and hate on anything new and different. The result is a mixture of both.

One thing is still clear: J. Rawls can still make beats. The Ohioan's jazz-influenced soundbeds still knock and swing, and when the right emcees are paired with him, the results are enjoyable. “Find A New” pairs a jazzy backdrop with relaxed bars by Casual, and the soothing “Heeey” meshes subdued keys and woodwinds with serviceable vocals by John Robinson, El Da Sensei, Lefortheuncool and Afaliah. On the grittier end, “Just Rhymin' With Fest” is a simple-yet-effective display of beats and bars with Rhymefest, while “Are You Listening” showcases solid rhymes by Bad Azz, Copywrite and Edo G. Conceptual gems are the real standouts: the laid-back “That Very First Day” recounts when J. Rawls and emcee Fat Jon first met, while the hilarious “Your Friends In The Way” repeatedly finds Senor Kaos on the wrong end of haters while trying to get poon. Above-average beatboxing and posse tracks round out the Hip Hop teaching sessions.

At times, the album feels contrived or boring. Despite its great sample-based beat and the nostalgia from hearing Sadat X and Wise Intelligent rhyme, songs like “Face It” try too hard to tell listeners what “real Hip Hop” is and how new rap doesn't live up to the legacy. The Hip Hop Affect is better-served when its songs are showing what Hip Hop's affect is instead of telling you what it should be. The 21-song playing time is a bit lengthy, especially when the disc is so cohesive that the songs occasionally sound alike. There aren't any weak songs here, but there aren't many songs that are mind-blowing either.

With its solid beats and rhymes, The Hip Hop Affect does a commendable job of showcasing what good Hip Hop is. As far as showcasing the actual feeling of what Hip Hop is (as it promises in the intro) it comes up slightly short. Still, if it can inspire others to evoke the feeling—the way that it does with Joshy on the album's outro, and as it requests new emcees to rip a final triumphant instrumental and email Rawls their results—then the intention is pure.

Purchase The Hip-Hop Affect by J Rawls



  • mediocrity

    I always thought J Sands was way more talented, and much more slept on...

  • Tyson Bret France

    it'd be cool if he used the correct "EFFECT" instead of "affect".

    • TaZzZ

      It's a play on words there genius... "Affect" is both a noun and a verb. Affect (Aff-ect as opposed to a-ffect) is one's general demeanor or appearance, like someone who is depressed has a flat affect (very little facial expression). Haven't heard the album but I'm guessing he's poking fun at hip-hop's hardcore thug image with the sarcastic juxtaposition of who I'm assuming is his son wildin' out to some jams. Like which is hip-hop's true affect? I could be way off the mark, but that's what I got out of it... If anyone knows better, correct me

  • Magic Dustman

    Can anyone PLEASE tell me the name of the song that J Rawls plays on "That very first time" at 2:13 into the song??? I heard that song before on a college radio station but never knew the name of it. Thanks to anybody that can help, peace.

  • slowhand429

    this album actually has a concept to it, first track is his son asking what hip hop feels like, then the rest of tracks of oldschool 90s type hip hop, soul jazz and funk samples, emcees i've yet to hear of that are dope, and then it ends with his son rapping and an instrumental with a challenge to new emcees to rip it and e-mail it to him. haven't had an album with a good concept to it come out in a while... pick it up and if your from ohio you gotta love the ohiotakesover track

  • Anonymous

    vernon vill 4 life

  • Anonymous

    This is like that good 'ol seven heads, wanna battle, rawkus type of ish. Great album


    Are you listening is a dope song bad azz from the dogg pound , aint heard from him in a while . good shit

  • aj

    Brush your teeth man!!! but good song tho