Album Review: Mr.J.Medeiros – Friends, Enemies, Apples, Apples (2009)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Potholes
The name Mr.J.Medeiros may be new to some, but he has been grinding away at the hip-hop scene for quite some time now. He first leaped onto the scene with his group, The Procussions, and quickly moved onto a solo career, with a fine debut in Of Gods And Girls. But with any debut, almost every artist shows some weak points. Teaming up with Stro the 89th Key on the boards once again, is Friends, Enemies, Apples, Apples the masterpiece, Of Gods And Girls was so close to becoming?
“My name is Mr.J.Medeiros, and I believe in the power of love.” The first words we hear from Medeiros on the opening track, “Children”, a statement so bold that one can’t help but take a moment to reflect on the true meaning. But does this proclamation make Medeiros soft? The answer is no. In fact, it deserves nothing but utmost praise, setting the pace for what might be one of the most innovative and introspective hip-hop albums to grace your ears in quite some time.
That innovation and introspection is drawn directly from Mr.J’s ability to pull himself from the current trends of hip-hop and mold intricate stories through his poetic rhyme schemes. Spanning moods of happiness, loneliness, darkness and hope, Medeiros has no trouble speaking his mind. The lead single, “Holding On”, featuring Tara Ellis, and quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs of the past few years, greets the audience with a message of great inspiration and encouragement. He continues his wonderful storytelling in “Left Me”, shifting the tides to a tragic sentiment, casting the mind on thoughts of death and emptiness.
But don’t get it twisted, this album isn’t just some book of poems, Medeiros does his fair share of fire-spitting as well. And he does so specifically on tracks like “Smile” and “Brutus”, allowing him to showcase his plethora of punchlines, speaking of evil, lies, deceit, and “sticking it to the man.” We then get to see Mr.J straight body a break beat on “Tarket Market”, serving as one giant social commentary, spanning the many wrongdoings of corporations and shady marketing ploys. Moving on though, we do run into a misstep here and there. Most notably the bass lathered, “Apples Apples”, which may float some boats, but just didn’t seem to work with Medeiros’ style in the big picture.
Before we conclude, we cannot go any further without noting the other elements that made this wonderful project come true. Stro the 89th Key truly graced this album with a beautiful sonic panorama. While stretching several different new elements and influences in his production, he continued to bless us with that signature sound that we have all come to know and love from Stro. You may have also noticed that with the exception of Tara Ellis, there were zero guest vocal features on Friends, Enemies, Apples, Apples. But that was the only other ingredient they needed, as Ms. Ellis patched together any possible gaps with her delicate, captivating voice.
Friends, Enemeis, Apples, Apples, is not only a tasteful album for the ages, but a true display of growth from Mr.J.Medeiros. He able to devise groundbreaking social commentary and he did it while crafting some infectious and enjoyable music that people of all shapes and sizes can enjoy and relate to. It’s rare to see a hip-hop artist in this day and age rise up to the occasion and speak for what he believes in. Hopefully more artists can take note and follow suit.