“They say Hip-Hop is falling apart. But that won’t stop us from calling it art.” From the start of Jin The Emcee’s new album, he lets us know what his purpose is. “We’ve got a hold it down as a collective and make sure that they see our perspective.”” This is a view of rap that many feel is true and although some may think rap is falling off, Jin proves it is still alive with love on this new record. His first words are “It’s a new beginning. Hip-Hop!” This rings true throughout Jin’s new album “Properganda.” With 16 year old prodigy Golden Child producing this beast, we get wonderful instrumentals that scream out “Real Hip-Hop” with every beat. On top of the realness and youth, this kid’s got soul to match that talent. Although it comes off reminiscent of old school flavor, Jin manages to create something brand new for fans. With a new style, new vision and a new mission, The Emcee excels in creating something true to the art form of Hip-Hop and for that, he deserves applause.
After claiming rap is “a shame like the Knicks to New York is,” Jin quickly asks “Where’s the Kanes, Rakims and Chris Parkers?” Immediately, we see a love for classic Hip-Hop legends, and this respect goes on throughout the album. His single “Top 5 (Dead or Alive)” makes this perfectly clear as he shouts out various Hip-Hop heroes like Kool Herc, Big Pun, Nas, Kurtis Blow and many others. On the previously mentioned “Perspective,” Jin rhymes as a fan of “Real Hip-Hop from NY to Los Angeles. Matter of fact, any longitude or latitude where they show the pioneers gratitude.” We can see this love for rap poring through every verse and bar with lines like, “Give me fifteen minutes, a L and a knockin’ track// I stroll in the booth and bring Hip-Hop back//Return it to the rightful owners.”
His love for Hip-Hop doesn’t stop at respecting those who came before him, though. He makes it known that he also has a passion for mic-rockin’. This is shown wonderfully on “My First Time” where The Emcee uses clever story telling as he gives details of his first time writing a rap. This is love for emceeing is also displayed on “100 Thousand Sold (Pt. 2)” where he claims, “Of course, I want plaques that’s certified diamond//But more than that, I just love rhyming.” Hearing this love for the art form, and a love to create makes listening to this album motivational. Rappers need to break out the ink and start writing with more passion like this because we need more real emcees out here representing in this manner.
Nowadays, it’s hard to find a mainstream artist with a great message and artistic credibility. The radio is bombarded with so much club music, that it’s hard to just relax and enjoy some incredibly unbelievable lyrics. Not that there is anything wrong with listening to party music, but lacking a balance is unhealthy for the growth of our culture. Jin points this out on “Perspective” as he says, “Sip drinks, get crunk, shake your behind//That shit is cool, but it don’t stimulate your mind.” Although this may seem somewhat corny nowadays, it makes sense when we look at history. As we look back on what is sometimes called “The Golden Era” of Hip-Hop, we can show love to a great like Rakim and site intelligent, prolific rhymes as one of his greatest gifts. Sadly, when viewing many of today’s biggest and most recognizable rap stars we can’t look at lyrics the same way. “I come from an era where cats would just spit//Now after two bars, I’m ready to press skip. Shit is trash!” Luckily not everything being released is garbage and this album is proof that Hip-Hop is still alive in emcees.
Fans, don’t get it twisted, though. The Emcee isn’t one dimensional and proves this by delivering some personal rhymes on “Foolish Little Girl.” During this song, he dedicates verses to a generation of young lost girls. Much like Nas did with “Black Girl Lost,” Jin describes a lot of what creates so much confusion amongst the young ladies in our world. From sexually explicit songs children young girls hear to how special a woman is. “You the Queen of this Earth. Think otherwise and you a foolish little girl.” In this track, he targets his words towards his sister, his unborn daughter and mother. This should have been shown more often on the album, but this is a definite shining moment.
“Properganda” also does a good job of representing an often times overlooked underground theme. Many may feel a rapper’s goal is to sell millions, own a clothing company and enjoy lavish homes around the globe. Still, Hip-Hop’s heart is not only about the money. Many still do this because they have a voice that they feel needs to be heard. Nas’ superb rhyming on “Illmatic” never got the shine it deserved when it was released, but now is largely recognized as being a Hip-Hop classic. Even though many don’t sell a lot, a true emcee most times, simply does it for the love. Jin is no exception to that as he explains, “I’ve got a point to get across…Whether one person get it or a million, the message isn’t lost.” For an emcee, diamonds and luxurious vehicles can be tempting, but ultimately, the art is where the heart is. Similar to teachers, writers and emcees create, many times not solely for money, but also so that their words may connect with others and influence a person in a positive way. Jin displays this with lines like “Record wise, the only way I’ll flop is if I ever stop affecting lives.” This goes for Hip-Hop as well. How can hip-Hop fall apart, when it can still affect so many?
Unfortunately, this album may not reach millions. Still, it is something that deserves attention for the love, the creativity and the Hip-Hop purity that shines throughout. For those used to what’s on the radio, this may seem like a change. However, change can be positive. A change like this for Hip-Hop today is looking both good and healthy. Jin created a wonderful ode to Hip-Hop and a new beginning for an emcee. While some flaws are apparent (mainly in the couple guest appearances) one can look past the errors because the pros here outweigh the cons. Although some may think Hip-Hop is falling apart, Jin shows that you can still call it art, and I agree.