So for those who still don’t have a clue why this blog exists, it’s for yours truly to write reviews. But not just any reviews. I’m actually reviewing stuff that interests me (movies, music and whatever else comes to mind). Hell, if I wanted to, I’d do a review about the Project Runway season that just ended, and where Trinidad’s own Anya Ayoung-Chee became the winner! But I’d do that if I gave a crap about the entire series, and if I had time….and I don’t have either. This is the reason why my last review was written about three weeks ago. Lots of shit to do, lots of stuff to see and so little time. Sigh…..
Which brings me to my very first music review. Or should I say mixtape review. For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, and for those who absolutely don’t know jack shit about rap music, a mixtape is a compilation of songs made either by a DJ or a DJ/rapper duo or a rapper or a rap group. They’re not expensive to acquire like ORIGINAL CDs and could be found online for free download. Sometimes, a rapper who has a little too much time on his hands (Lil Wayne, Fabolous, among others) releases a mixtape. But more than likely, a mixtape is made by a DJ who wants to show off his skill or an up-and-coming rapper who just wants the world to hear his voice.
Which brings me to Jonathan Alleyne a.k.a. Mizzter J. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jonathan and his family moved to San Fernando, Trinidad, whe he was only 5 years old. At age 8, he started rapping. He pursued information technology at COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) where, at the same time, he met ….that’s right…. yours truly! Ever since then, we’ve been great friends. We both left COSTAATT with Associate Degrees. But while I pursued film in the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, Jonathan flew back to the U.S. in 2008 to help support his brother, who was pursuing aerospace engineering. At age 21, he joined the U.S. Army. At age 24, his current age, he started his master’s degree in Information Security.
But what does all this have to do with rap music, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! While in basic army training, Jonathan took part in rap battles. Last year, he made the decision to seriously pursue a career in rap. He started with a mixtape called the “Tabanca Mixtape” and followed that with “Fantasy Island”. “BreadCrumbz” makes it his third mixtape in his career so far, and I was fortunate enough to get a copy of it from Mizzter J himself! YAY ME!
Now keep in mind, folks… this is MY review. This is in no way bashing Mizzter J or any of his affiliates, nor is it my way of telling you NOT to listen to this mixtape. I personally asked him if I could review the mixtape, and he agreed. So please don’t think that this is an attempt to write a bunch of bullshit and call it a review. Besides, I can’t rap to save my own fucking life!
Anyhoo, on to the review…at last! I’ll try to be as concise as possible.
1. SOMEDAY (ft. David Ray & Lil Scoot)
The mixtape begins, as most albums do, where the lead rapper talks about his road to success. After a few sound bytes from the late great West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, we are treated to an inspirational R&B chorus from David Ray . After the chorus, Mizzter J comes in strong. The guest rapper, Lil Scoot, delivers a good second verse. Overall, the track served its purpose, but a third verse from Mizzter J wouldn’t have hurt.
2. CALM DOWN
And now, Mizzter J talks about the state of affairs in Trinidad, from unguided youth to crime and vagrancy. For a social commentary track, this song WORKS! If rap ever becomes taken fucking seriously in Trinidad, this is the kind of shit that local rappers should be talking about. Well done!
The title track of the mixtape. By the piano and hard drums on the beat, and Mizzter J’s hard lyricism, you would think that this song was about living the thug life or some generic shit like that. It sounds that serious! But it’s actually about J trying to find his way through the bullshit of life, while keeping in mind where he came from. Hence, breadcrumbs. It’s a metaphor, people! COME ON! Decent track by the way.
4. LYRIC SLAVIN’ (ft. Datboy & POP)
Just when you think this album was going to be entirely depressing, we get a CLUB SONG! Finally! Something happy and fun to listen to! The beat had my head bopping throughout, and the chorus was catchy enough. Also, Mizzter J was nice enough to have his guests rap before him. Now isn’t that considerate?
Mizzter J takes his first stab in the album at an old school beat. The beat of choice is the FUCKING AWESOME “Crooklyn” beat produced by (rapper/producer/member of the greatest rap group that ever existed a.k.a. A Tribe Called Quest) Q-Tip. Lyrically, J slices and dices the shit out of this beat! Here, he spits arguably the best lyrics the album has to offer so far. Or maybe it’s because anyone can sound dope over that beat. Any which way you take it, this was a damn impressive track! Well done!
6. FREEDOM REIGNS
A beef song?! WTF?! J’s target is Soulja Boy, the embodiment of everything that hip hop heads like yours truly hate about hip hop. This song is based on a comment that Soulja said about the U.S. Army, and J, who was in the Army himself, kicks the shit out of him. He uses Lil Wayne’s “I am not a Human Being” beat well enough to get his point across. I love the line “You wanna be Superman….dodge some bullets”. That shit had me laughing!
7. THE VALLEY (Interlude)
I like the use of the Ennio Morricone-inspired beat from Jay-Z’s song “Blueprint 2” for this interlude, but I found myself reminiscing of the days when I foolishly thought that the “Blueprint 2” album was actually the shit – instead of what it really is. The lyrics are aight, but they didn’t stand out to me for some reason. I guess it’s the beat. Ah well, you can’t win them all. On to the next track…
8. PLAYER WAYZ
Which begins with a nice piano solo…. and then some hard-hitting R&B drums…. and then lyrics by Mizzter J about the ups and downs of maintaining a relationship with a girl that he may, or may not, have feelings for. He makes it even more personal by singing the chorus, which is okay in terms of the song. This is the first of his songs dedicated to the opposite sex, and for what it’s worth, it works. The beat saves it from being forgettable. Speaking of beat…
9. I WISH
Notorious B.I.G.’s “Sky’s the Limit” …. SPED UP?! WTF?! This was the first thought that came to my mind when I heard this track. The original, and FUCKING AWESOME, slow-paced beat is sped up in Mizzter J’s simple-lyric love song to a girl. He also sings the chorus for this song, and in its simplicity, it’s not bad. Whether it was just someone playing with Virtual DJ or not, the sped-up Biggie beat works well with the vibe of the song. Not bad, Johnny! Not bad at all!
10. MAKE IT YOURS
Yet another love song by Mizzter J. Here, he raps over a 80s synthesizer-like beat. The beat itself is REALLY GOOD, and J flows well over the beat. What takes the track down a couple of notches though is a bit of skipping that takes place near the end of the song.
11. NEVER LET IT OUT OF MY MIND (ft. D. Nicol)
Enough with the love shit….now for some hardcore lyrics! Just playing. But honestly, this is another track where Mizzter J delivers some BRILLIANT lyricism. My favourite line has to be “I fuck with your mind, I got a degree in common sense”. His guest is the white rapper D. Nicol, who delivers some great lyrics. Together, they make this track one of the best on the album. They should really do a collabo album one day. I’m just saying.
12. TWISTED LOVE
Now this is a track that Lil Wayne would sound comfortable in. And speaking of which, Mizzter J’s lyrics work good with the rap rock beat, but his rhyme pattern is somewhat familiar to Weezy’s lyrical style. Or maybe I was thinking too much about Weezy while listening to this beat. Too much Weezy is really bad for your health, I guess!
13. ROGER THAT (ft. Ladyflexx & POP)
Finally, a female rapper steps in the album. In this track, which is exactly what you expected – a version of Young Money’s smash hit “Roger That”, Ladyflexx takes the position of Nicki Minaj. Luckily, she’s no Nicki….and really, who needs another Nicki in the rap game? Her lyrics, as well as everyone else, is okay. POP sounds like he was having a helluva time while recording this track though.
Admittedly, I heard Mizzter J’s freestyle over Trae’s “Incredible” before, but I never really felt it. Yeah, he took shots at the haters, but I really wasn’t feeling this track….UNTIL NOW! I never fancied the beat, but J flows so well on the beat that I actually like it now. Oh, and the track? Yeah, it’s fucking great! Another point for J!
15. I’M IN THA HOOD
Hard-hitting beats….check! Simplistic chorus….check!But the lyrics don’t match with the song’s title though. Not to say J’s bragging lyrics aren’t good, but I felt that he should have stuck with the “hood” aspect, which is what the title suggests. Not a bad effort The beat fucking KNOCKS, by the way!
16. DON’T STRAY (ft. Fre$h)
Ah yes! “The Food”.. one of my favourite beats from Kanye West. J and his guest go back to the theme of the first track about life’s struggles and seeking a better way. This was a really good way to wind down tonight’s proceedings. The third stanza gets points in my book!
17. YEAR OF THE J
The soul beat in this track reminds me of something that Outkast would rap over. The hand claps and saxophone makes you feel as if you’re in a juke joint in the 1930s – if you know about stuff like that. The song itself isn’t as depressing that I thought it would be as a final track. Actually, it was a really fun track. Great way to end the album, J.
18. (BONUS TRACK) READY, SET, GO (ft. MDP)
We get a bonus track. Darn it! Just when I was getting ready to leave. Anyhoo, this is another club track where J sings the simple, yet catchy chorus. The beat is really good, and the guests try their hardest to get the girls “down to da floe”. J spits the most in this track, and just like in “Lyric Slavin”, he waits till the third verse to spit his bars.
MY THOUGHTS: Mizzter J does a damn good job with his latest mixtape. His lyricism has improved considerably since “Fantasy Island” and his writing has developed a great deal. But what makes “BreadCrumbz” truly work is its consistency. The tracks are arranged well, and apart from the interlude (which was aight but questionable in terms of its presence in the album’s playlist), nothing seems out of place. The beats are well-selected and they work with J’s various lyrical deliveries. Also, I have to give the man credit for singing his own choruses. Mizzter still has a long way to go in the rap game, but for now, this mixtape works as a declaration that he is DEFINITELY in the building, and he does have something to say.
SHOULD I LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM?: I recommend that you give this album a listen. And not because I’m J’s friend. It’s a really decent album, regardless of what I say about it. And to the haters, some of these tracks on this mixtape are already on YouTube and iTunes right now as I type. So stop hating and start supporting up-and-coming rappers. When Weezy gets too old, stops rapping and starts wheezing, you’re going to be looking for the next big thing. The ones that you’re dissing right now could be on top very soon. You never know. The rap game is that crazy.
Here’s my link to the “BreadCrumbz” album, just in case you were wondering where you can get it. Give it a listen, and leave a comment if you like. You can also check Mizzter J’s page on Facebook as well.
MY RATING: 4 out of 5 stars – Worth listening to.