Underground hip-hop veteran John Robinson has shared a magnificent new album entitled King JR. Over top of quirky, nostalgic production from Blu, the rapper delivers intricate verses that are endlessly interesting.
King JR kicks off with the eclectic “Medicine”, which features textured horns and deeply groovy bass. This track makes for a good introduction to Robinson’s easy-going yet complex rhymes, as he comes through with some quintessential verses. He follows this track up with the surreal “Mic Talk”, which is centred around winding horns and glitchy percussion. The free-form style of this song is intriguing and entertaining, introducing the improvisational feel that makes up most of the remainder of the album.
The mysterious, dense “Young Black and Gifted” makes for an album highlight, providing a refreshing instrumental by Blu that bristles with originality and authenticity. The otherworldly energy of this song makes one want to keep replaying this song again and again to absorb its layers and imagery. Furthermore, Robinson’s politically inclined lyricism is poignant and honest as ever on this track, adding to the song’s thought-provoking nature. Another album highlight is the uplifting “Motherland”, which contains warm organs that ring out over organic sounding percussion. Robinson presents vivid, poetic verses here, making for an enlivening listen.
The energy is upped for the head-banging “Heavy Ghetto”, featuring Eloh Kush and album producer Blu. This instrumental from Blu contains glitchy brass and epic organs, swirling together in a psychedelic concoction overtop raw drums. This track is followed by the industrial-tinged “Kingdom of Heaven” featuring Scienze, which contains bleak guitars that ring out overtop dusty drums. Finally, “Martin & Malcolm” makes for a smokey, elegant closer, featuring reminiscent keys and distorted percussion. Robinson comes through with some sharply crafted, vivid verses to close out the record in an inspiring fashion.
Overall, King JR is a refreshing, complex release from John Robinson and producer Blu that is an artistic achievement. The duo come through with a series of songs that are consistently intricate and interesting, providing a unique sound that keeps one glued to the speakers throughout. Hopefully more is soon to come from this talented pairing, as this proves to be a strong release front to back.