Album Review: Jéan P - My Life as Jéan

The most room an artist will have is in the moment of being unsigned. Think about it: they get to be free with their creativity, no one will tell them no, and if they play their cards right, they'll have fans instantly. Jéan P is a prime example. The Athens-bred emcee stepped on the hiphop scene of Athens, OH last year at the hiphop shop first spitting poetry. Folks gravitated to his words at the drop of a hat. He was so smooth yet so straight-forward, it was hard to not listen to him. Since then, he has soared in that town, as well as the entire state of Ohio, doing shows in Akron, Canton, and so on. He has dropped several mixtapes circulating the web, and constantly promoting his work via twitter and facebook. His new album My Life As Jéan is no different, taking over with constant promotion from simple tweets (with links to the free download) to Youtube videos.

Instantly the album is very smooth, and almost too smooth, too slow. Very atypical sound for a conscious rapper, but his sound is not common for a conscious emcee. Instead of pushing an urgent message regarding social and political issues, Jéan P takes a more smoother route, alleviating pain at the sound of his voice. But in the alleviation of the pain, the message becomes ignored, making My Life As Jéan come off as something to sit and listen to, providing little inspiration to make changes.

Exploring his mind in this album is fairly easy, and understanding what kind of emcee he is overall is easy as well. His past works can easily categorize Jéan P as a backpack rapper, with his subtle social commentary and jokes toward mainstream-accepted musicians.  Provided the majority of My Life As Jéan is about love, there's little emotion delivered to catch it. It's easy to hear lyrics of love, and easy to find with the beats, it's just difficult to grasp onto when the Jéan P sounds the same in the entire album.

His flow and rhyme, as smooth as it may be, hits a huge rough patch because it's almost simple. Yes, Jéan P has bars, don't get me wrong, but his delivery is rather stale. His punchlines were kept to small slaps because it lacks feeling. A conscious rapper shouldn't want to be an angry one, but doesn't want to seem meek either. However, lyrically he is a genius! He paints the freshest, most creative story-telling bars since Slick Rick. His ability to turn a story into a song is unique, sort of like he's writing a kid's book. And since he rhymes cuss-free, (which is cute if nothing else) he really could write a great kids book if he wanted to!

There are moments of ambiguity in this album. At first he tries to disassociate himself from other rappers like Drake and Lil' Wayne in "Words of Wisdom", claiming he just wants to be something different. A few tracks later, he's addressing "emcees taking a few shots" at him and claiming he "kill emcees, leaving no evidence," head-first. Then at the end of the album he has a hilarious skit making fun of hiphop's hot mess Lil' B and DJ Khaled. Not gonna lie, the impression of DJ Khaled is on point! Actually, the skits can throw the listener off really quick because there's a lot of inside jokes that they will NOT understand, along with some cussing (which I'm pretty sure may not match Je'an's Will Smith/positive, non-cussing raps).

My Life As Jéan has a lot of timeless, classic soul records being sampled in this album, including his outro which has an excerpt of a Marvin Gaye interview. The production behind My Life As Jéan all the while taking back Jéan P's firepower and delivery. How can an artist like Jéan P deliver content that's socially conscious with beats as lowkey as "Ya Don't Understand"? A strong message like in "Ya Don't Understand" was blanketed by the beat, and that's the worst thing to happen to great emcees. His track "Words of Wisdom" could easily be his best song on the album, but it's quite clear that it's too slow; his voice almost sound slurred throughout the short-lived song.

Speaking of his rhymes, Jéan's flow is pretty classical, like it's clear he has written all his rhymes. If not, then his tone and pitch needs to change in his flow ASAP. There's also a small amount of growth from his rhymes compared to his past albums and mixtapes. He strapped himself with better punchlines, like "you a liar liar, you got a Jim Carey flow", and improved greatly with his story-telling, but he still has the same flow as his debut album Thought Process.

The good news is he could take over in no time and there is major room for improvement. No one can deny his ability to spit uplifting rhymes and strong sense of telling stories, like "Ya Don't Understand" and "Rhyme 4 My Summer Love."

Overall, Jéan P has strong potential to break the mold of being an emcee in modern day times. The only thing holding him back is his fixed flow and his lack of growth, as is evident in My Life As Jéan. When an artist sounds the same in an entire album, let alone in his or her entire career, the artist will stay immobile. My Life As Jéan is an album that is hands-down above most underground emcees' albums and EPs, so for Jéan P, he has a strong head-start.

Star's Grade: B-

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