Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to shine our gaze onto ‘The Love Hate Album,’ a new six track EP by Jreasn, a hip hop artist who hails from Buffalo, New York. It’s an interesting endeavor chock-full of passion and intense production that consistently flirts with other musical styles. Is it any good, though? Let’s dig into it and find out.
‘The Love Hate Album’ immediately differentiates itself from the tidal wave of independent hip hop critics like myself are constantly inundated by. The opening track, ‘That Way,’ traverses an acoustic guitar opening, a slick beat, and an eventual build that explodes into a cacophony of energetic hip hop pop music. The harmonies are absolutely infectious, the atmosphere is lovely, and Jreasn commands fantastic presence over his sound.
My only quip about the opening: don’t utilize the word “synergy” in lyricism. It’s one of those words best left at mandatory corporate weekend retreats.
The pop sensibility that Jreasn introduces on ‘That Way’ remains a mainstay for the rest of the album. ‘Girl To Love’ continues that theme, but does focus more heavily on Jreasn’s prowess as a rapper instead of catchy pop choruses. His delivery is stronger on ‘Girl To Love,’ even if some of the track’s lyrical themes feel forcefully recycled from popular culture.
(“Sit back and relax as I speed in my Maserati…” This kind of lyricism just feels awkwardly derivative nowadays.)
‘Woosah’ begins to take a rather different turn on the record as Jreasn’s opening two tracks feel compromised by a woman who is, essentially, a gold digger. This is good, because it offers some emotional depth to the album, something that’s absent when Jreasn is rhyming about fast sports cars and hot women.
‘Milk & Honey’ continues Jreasn’s descent through relationship turmoil. It’s likely the lower point of the record - Jreasn re-emphasizes his love of money, raps about his “royal oats,” and muses about how “these hoes never love you,” they just end up somewhere sunny, probably on your dime.
‘The Love Hate,’ the song, continues Jreasn’s love affair with his stacks of cash and getting head, and then the finale, ‘Keep Going,’ has the finest instrumentation of the album - it’s a fantastic beat. It’s also a track with some remarkably slick lyricism and delivery. It ends the album powerfully.
‘The Love Hate’ alludes to Jreasn being a remarkably talented hip hop artist. There are glimpses of excellence throughout. What starts off as an endearing effort, however, devolves into a narcissistic jaunt through piles of hypothetical cash and sports cars. Twenty five years ago, this may have passed as interesting subject matter. Nowadays, it’s painfully derivative and the hip hop scene has largely moved past it. It feels even more bizarre from an independent artist, who frankly, isn't sitting in the position of power his music makes him out to be.
Thus, Jreasn’s new album is a decent record that could have been a good one, if it hadn’t been bogged down in its own false grandeur. The best track is ‘That Way.’ The production is quite good, too; so it's worth checking out, but its subject matter drags it down more and more as the album continues.