Southern Hip Hop generally conjures up ideas of a certain type of sound these days: trunk rattling bass, deep-South accents telling stories of trap life, candy paint, and strip club anthems. Sure, all of those elements are rampant on the airwaves, but lurking in the state lines of the Carolinas to Texas (and everywhere in the middle) is a promising pack of independent emcees that go against the norms and stereotypes of their region of the United States. One of these is Justus League member Median, and his sophomore release The Sender.
Soulful, mellow production backs up a bevy of skilled flows from Median and his lyrical partners in rhyme, with notable features such as Phonte and Bahamadia. The North Carolina emcee boasts polished rhyme schemes and an ear for beat selection, as evidenced by a strong presence from 9th Wonder and Khrysis. The Sender provides rap for the Hip Hop purist who appreciates an emphasis on technical skill, not what’s trendy or sacrifices quality for mainstream appeal.
9th Wonder reigns supreme on the production front with the smoothed out “Fresh Breath,” with jazzy horns accentuating the posse cut lines from Median, Sundown, and Raleigh’s King Mez. Median also expresses his personality over 9th Wonder production on “Open My Thoughts,” rhyming “let me explain, I did it with flow back in the day, would’ve said ‘no homo’ but I’m a grown man, would’ve fed more totos but I’m a known dad.” In fact, many of the album’s offerings showcase Median’s maturity, and as a result make The Sender an album that older generations of Hip Hop fans will enjoy.
Though The Sender is undoubtedly a solid effort - with a nice lineup of both emcees and producers and a decent showing from all - a lack of standout material (there are no obvious highs or lows) makes it rather anti-climactic and may not be enough to provide Median’s second album a very long shelf life. For diehard fans of Median’s style of laid-back yet lyrical raps, it will be worthy of a few spins.