Just north of Boston lies a town named Lynn, the so-called “City of Sin” of Massachusetts’ North Shore, where the rent prices are low and the crime rates are high. During the hot summers its residents can be found partying at Boston’s clubs (or the hardcore locals may be at D’Marcos), or hanging out getting some sun at Revere Beach while they eat one of the area’s famous roast beef sandwiches. But come winter time, when the temperatures plummet, the snow falls, and suddenly everyone is living in one huge freezer where there’s not much to do at night, the conditions are perfect to breed some of Mass’ toughest emcees.
Enter Michael “M-Dot” Januario, the Revere and East Boston-bred Italian American currently residing in Lynn who has teamed up with French deejay and producer Jean Maron for the collaborative LP, Run MPC. While the effort showcases a fair amount of Murda Mass emcees (Termanology, Reks, Akrobatik, Lyric Jones, Big Shug, and more) it also boasts a lineup of strong lyricists from elsewhere (Masta Ace, Chino XL, Billy Danze, Sha Stimuli, etc.) which will keep out-of-towners not so alienated. Just by reading the track listing listeners will know they’re in for lyrical manslaughter, so the biggest question mark surrounding the project lies in DJ Jean Maron’s production abilities. This will most likely boil down to a matter of personal taste. Thankfully, there is a healthy blend of hard-hitting boom bap-style beats balanced by some slowed down, mellowed out tunes for those rainy New England days that will satisfy a wide variety of listeners and moods.
Unexpectedly, the intro gives the project a rough start, with Jean Maron’s cuts being far from impressive. Luckily this can be overlooked as Maron produces better than he scratches, and the album quickly moves forward to bangers like “Be Easy” featuring Torae, Chino XL, B.A.M., and femcee Lyric Jones. Although the slap-you-in-the-face beat seems tailored to M.O.P’s Billy Danze who shows up later on Run MPC, each lyricist comes correct. Especially notable is the “Puerto Rican Superhero” Chino XL’s verse during which he informs us, “I’m the strongest rapper livin’, why would I run? / Usin syllables like religion until this life’s done.” Another definite standout is “The Feel” featuring Sha Stimuli. Sha spits acapella, “It’s so sincere when it comes from your soul / Kids dying young and it never gets old/you don’t even have to understand the words in the verses but / When you feel, it’s so perfect” as a melancholy, vocal sample-based beat eases in and allows Sha to take the introspective route as he waxes poetic in the role of a drug dealer who is feeling accountable for killing his customers.
No particular song is distinctively bad, rather the lowest points on Run MPC come in the form of the aforementioned intro and M-Dot’s outro – which is nothing more than a bunch of shout outs that would have been better suited in liner notes, as it gives the otherwise solid album a mixtape feel. The actual tracks reach average status from time to time (see “Rap Game” featuring Craig G of Marley Marl’s legendary Juice Crew, and “The Warning” which boldly utilizes the same sample that fellow New England-bred producer Statik Selektah used on M.O.P’s “Blow the Horns”), but thanks to an impressive lyrical show from M-Dot and friends, they never reach below-average territory.
As listeners will be more convinced than ever of M-Dot’s lyrical abilities, Run MPC will also serve as an effective argument to non-Bostonians as to why they should be paying attention to the Massachusetts Hip Hop scene as a whole with tracks like “Tap Out,” “Mama,” and “Mass.” While the seasons change and the citizens of Lynn grab their coats and boots, M-Dot has provided his audience a soundtrack that will go along perfectly with the colder weather and darkening moods that the upcoming New England Fall will bring.