be told, independent rappers are often as limited as the constantly criticized
commercial ones are. While major label emcees are usually seen bragging about
excessive funds and how hard they are, indies are often restricted to bars
about measly stacks and how they aren't gangsta--merely the polar opposite of
their industry-driven counterparts. This leaves their fanbase equally limited
to overly arrogant music snobs who despise the industry monster so much that
they'll flock to anything that rages against their oppressor.
Going into his sophomore solo
set, Of Gods and Girls, Mr. J Medeiros would be a perfect fit for
this crowd. He's made a mark with his group The Procussions, touring
with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and garnering a spot on the
respected OkayPlayer roster of artists. The Procussions were also
the first act signed to the rejuvenated Rawkus Records, which, during
its heyday during the 90s, was emblematic of the "real Hip Hop" amidst the sea
of a quickly-commercializing industry. Fortunately, Mr. J proves that
he's not limited to the broke rapper steez that plagues his contemporaries.
While certain facets of Gods
and Girls make it easy to dismiss Mr. J as a stereotypical indie emcee--clean,
non-misogynstic/materialistic bars, tracks and skits about being broke--his
sincerity and skill level make each of his conceptual songs strike Hip Hop
gold. Mr. J may be a tad idealistic for the tastes of some, but he's
damn convincing throughout: "Apathy"
features him ranting on various social and political issues, and he candidly
spews from the POV of an alcoholic on "King
of Rock Bottom." "Constance,"
on which Mr. J explores the world of child pornography, emerges as the
album's and possibly a calling card for the emcee. As if attacking the topic
itself wasn't enough, he tackles the perspectives of both an abused girl and a
conflicted addict so potently that Chris Hansen (of MSNBC Dateline's To Catch A Predator) himself
would be proud. How much can you hate on the preacher if he's not only right
about his convictions, but has the evidence to back them up?
While conceptual content
builds the meat of Gods and Girls, Mr. J fills the rest of the
disc with an almost odd versatility. While the individuality of the
aforementioned tracks may make one think his group setting holds him back, he
doesn't sound desperate for attention alongside other bar-spitters. "Change" sees him waxing poetic with
the Strange Fruit Project and groupmate Rez, and he teams up with
indie staple Pigeon John on "Money,"
which succeeds despite a corny personification of greenbacks speaking between
verses. He also displays skills behind the boards, lacing four of the album's
rich 16 tracks.
While the aforementioned
guests and outside producers all make worthy contributions, it's evident that Of
Gods and Girls is Mr. J Mederios' show. Combining the talent and
sensibilities of indie staples with the versatility and charisma of major label
acts, Mr. J brings the best of both worlds.