J Flow is a smart artist. He dabs in a commercial sound on the hook while retaining the lo-fi vibes and solemn tone of underground rap on the verses in his best release to date, Where I’m At. The record feels like a warm greeting to upcoming artists and go-getters. The lyrics are highly relatable letting the audience in on his thought process, mental arguments with his naysayers, leaving the streets behind, and being entirely focused on his rap career in 2020.
Where I’m At announces its promising potential with a most intriguing sonic intro. The amalgam of curious instruments makes for a swag-filled but not overly exaggerated oomph. We note a smooth flute leading the beat and some synths that sound like violin strums layered on top of a broken record feedback. Then the FX buildup swiftly beckons the audience to the outstandingly catchy hook sung by Bobby Kennedy: “I was a problem, they didn’t care/ Till I made it where I’m at/ Said I would fail, there was not a chance/ Till I made it where I’m at/ Now that I’m on, they wanna know/ How I made it where I’m at” The chorus is on par with industry standards and features a velvety mesh between natural vocals and post-production processing.
J Flow makes his introduction rather unexpectedly, cutting straight after the hook: “I had the vision/ I had a mission/ Was all in my mind/ Just had to be written/ Wanted studio time/ But was broke like some dishes/ They been sleeping on me/ Now it’s time to awake” The change in audio traits is evident but not necessarily a negative one. J Flow takes his rap style back to the 90s production peculiarities when the vocals were unprocessed and the bass was left in. In 2020 they usually cut out all bass in the EQ filter while that was unheard of in the past. But going back to J Flow’s flow, the guy is natural in his delivery making his bars sound like a morning conversation over breakfast. The rhymes are curt and to the point. Something to be appreciated as the artist manages to convey lots of depth and meaning in few words.
When asked what was the inspiration behind the record, J Flow shared exclusively for Blue Rhymez Entertainment: “Whereas I am sure most artists would have interpreted Where I Am At as material success, I saw the meaning fit for my own background: coming from a small town in the Poconos, PA where it is challenging to get recognition. I wrote the record during our first lockdown in Pennsylvania. I encapsulated my history on hustles, grinds, obstacles, and overcoming the hate from those doubting me”
The second verse is a refreshing change in punchlines and double meanings: “How can I fail?/ When they feel me like Braille”, “Heart on the scale/ Outweighed the hate”, “I was a loner/ But just like Homer/ Dope’s all I would hear”, “Now I’m getting paid/ For what I say/ If you don’t share a plate/ You’re on the menu” J Flow packs enough metaphors to make the average listener trip at the abundance and quality offered by him.
Where I’m At is a fun record with a dual appeal to two extremely diverse crowds, the mainstream consumers and the underground rap aficionados. The pristine hook merged with the raw verses make a unique, original format that will have people scratching their heads first and bobbing their heads by the 2nd verse.
Song Credits: JohnPaul Korovich (J Flow) – Songwriter, Performer, Mixing Engineer; Bobby Kennedy – Singer, Songwriter; Jan Branicki – Producer; Aisha Korovich – Recording Engineer; Urban F Productions – Mastering.
Make sure you spice up your rap playlist by adding Where I’m At on Apple Music HERE, and on Spotify below:
Review by Mariana Berdianu
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