There are a lot of things in life that you will probably look back on, as you inevitably near your twilight years. Little things. Things that haunt you. Things you miss. Things you missed. Those things that I imagine are the most indelibly burned into your memory though are those tiny, lightning fast moments of shear clarity that we call revelation.
Maybe it's the moment that you knew what you were born to do. Maybe that she's the one. Maybe a spiritual awakening. Some of the most fascinating moments of the revelatory experience are the silly, quasi-insignificant, yet profoundly poignant little victories. Where your ideas of how life usually works gets turned on end and you realize no earthbound rule is without exception. These moments act as hope-full markers on our life's map, constantly nudging us onward because, in the immortal words of MxPx, tomorrow [truly] is another day/another chance to make things right/a chance to fully live your life...
Last week's piece about Gospel Music brought about quite a comment section, ironically having very little to do with the subject matter of the column, rather, quite a friendly debate was raised over what was NOT the subject matter. You see, a fresh, young hip hop artist--from Jax no less--by the name of J. Dash had an album dropping the very day of the Gospel Music piece hitting the front page. The commenter made reference to the significance of this particular release, and posed the question of my missing an opportunity to stay true to the heart of this column and "Pump Up The Volume" of our local hip hop community. I, unfortunately, had not heard Jameyel "J. Dash" Johnson or his viral hit "Wop", but I found it and a couple of other samplings of Mr. Johnson's stylings to be underwhelming. A few discussion points later, the commenter made mention of an early group that Mr. Johnson had a hand in, Fusebox Funk, which I had heard over the years. Sadly I felt that what Fusebox had done far outweighed what J. Dash content I could find on the fly. Still I couldn't escape J. Dash. He kept popping up in conversation and I scoured the interwebs for info regarding this new, enigmatic figure.
Monochromatic-ish makes for interesting J.DASH cover
Throughout the next few days I checked for his release in the various big box stores I visited as I shopped for necessities to make a more pleasant environment for my freshly minted newborn, but until Wednesday night I had found nothing. A chance late night trek to Wally World FINALLY brought results however (I was unaware of the deal with Walmart to be sole distributor of the cd version...). I. Was. Elated. I had the excitement of a kid who couldn't get batteries in his new toy fast enough. I wanted to get to the car as fast as I could to finally hear this elusive record. Much of the excitement was simply in the chase, but, while I knew Mr. Johnson was talented, I really didn't have great expectations about what was "in the grooves" so to speak. Then "Life" (track one) started and the smile didn't leave my face until I popped the cd out of the player.
Dash's flow will draw inevitable comparisons to B.o.B. but I feel his unquestionable talent as a musician and his near mathematic flow will no doubt propel him to well-deserved further successes. I look forward to watching Mr. Johnson's career as it progresses because, thus far, it's been a revelation, and that's the [tabloid] truth.
JDash looking cool while gazing at white space
Tabloid Truth kicks off with the soft cries of a baby in the background over a neo-classical piano melody with J. Dash's gentle rhymes floating over top. As the chronicle of his life plays out and the beat intensifies so does his flow--which is tight, smooth, and at points angular. You could almost liken his flow to a top tier running back with spins, jukes, and perfect timing. "Life" is followed by the title track, "Tabloid Truth", wherein Mr. Johnson's introspection continues as he deals with themes of street life and God and what really matters in this life. Another stand out track is "Take It Hard" with its guest vocals and string arrangement, gives us a glimpse of the grandeur that hip hop can achieve. Obviously "Wop" is a barnburner of a club track, as well as "Strut", the upbeat Philly-soul groove of "Dance All Night", and the catchy Jax-touting "I Rep My Hood" will keep the party rolling. But my favorite piece of Mr. Johnson's arsenal is by far the humor found in "Drugged"--a cautionary tale of why he doesn't drink, and the instant classic, "Questions", which channels the tongue-in-cheek fun of Biz Markie. With lines ranging from the preposterous (wondering if jelly fish get gas when they eat jelly beans) to the poignant (wondering why we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong) to the downright awesome (wondering why airplanes have floating devices instead of parachutes) it's easy to see this side of J. Dash is where he shines.
Tabloid Truth is a solid album with some truly exemplary moments. It's style and J.
Visit J.DASHs website here www.therealJdash.com
Article by Paul Thomas Chapman