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J-Bru, born Jason Bruce, is viewed by some to be standing in the shadows of his right-hand man, Classified. But with the release of this Halifax emcee's third album, Underground MC, he illuminates any shadows and shines bright into your face.
J-Bru has aced his occasionally slower flow by littering his diverse lyrics with an intense use of similes and metaphors. However, he shines brightest when he relies on his story-telling abilities like on the compelling 'Tru Luv' and his introspective 'Reality,' a reflection on the death of his best friend Chris. J-Bru also surrounds himself with solid production at the hands of Classified, Trobiz, and Tech Thai.
The title track proves to be the album's gem as Charlottetown's Tech Thai produces a truly amazing underground beat. 'The Fax (remix)' is Halifax's new rap anthem, served over a hot club beat. Check out its video at http://homepage.mac.com/douce1/. 'Champion' is molded over a solid beat, teasing you with an occasional snare and cymbal, while J-Bru demonstrates a cockiness rivaled only by his own 'Cocky as Ever'. And who can deny the appeal of the Trobiz beat and Elmo sample on 'This is the Song.'
Unfortunately his emcee collaborations make for some of my least favorite songs on the album with the likes of 'Write Here,' 'Da Fist' and 'Thug Party,' and which ultimately left me craving more solo J-Bru. The main exception being Classified who rips it hard on the emotional charged, 'Be a Man,' as they appeal to everyone to do their own thing, build toward the future and quit looking for handouts.
Underground MC has a little something for everyone. It's got love stories, conscious songs, cocky themes and party anthems. J-Bru's distinctive voice makes you sit up and take notice of what this underground MC has to say. With Underground MC, he emerges from Classified's shadow to prove that a lack of direct sun can often do you good.Troy Neilson
This review was written July 20, 2003
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