It’s always interesting to hear artists make blatant references to their inspirations with their music. Especially when it comes to hip-hop. Listening to rappers take a lyric here, an album name there makes for an interesting experience. Kanye West
does this pretty well at times. Actually, it’s a common tactic for young, unproven rappers to employ. That’s not to say that Kanye is unproven. He’s far from it. Still, this isn’t about Kanye at all. It’s about J.R. Writer. As interesting as it may sound, I can draw a fair bit of comparison between Writer and West. Well, for one thing, bother of their surnames begin with “w.” Both of them also have extremely big egos. As lyricists go, the two are also similar. They’ve both been hailed for consistently spitting better-than-average wordplay. The similarities end there. You see in terms of actual music, Kanye and J.R. are polar opposites. However, J.R. still manages to employ many of the aforementioned strategies and concurrence with Kanye on his major-label debut, History in the Making
. However, he doesn’t quite pull it off as flawlessly as his completely dissimilar counterpart.
It’s really interesting, actually. Very few rappers manage to outfox themselves so well on their own albums. J.R. would probably be better off without the meddling of his “crew,” Harlem-based rap group, Dipset. Comprised of artists signed to Diplomat Records, Dipset is the brainchild of J.R.’s mentor, Cam’Ron
. Since it’s initial inception as an out for displeased Roc-A-Fella Records artists, Diplomat has slowly been gaining success, churning out hit after hit. It’s kind of funny, though, that the group’s most successful member, Juelz Santana
, is stranded on Def Jam island, unable to escape the “Roc’s” grasp. Enter J.R. Writer. He’s been under the tutelage of Cam’Ron since he broke into the Harlem hip-hop scene. Due to this influence, and his commitment to his crew, you’d expect History in the Making
to feature plenty of Dipset. Well, you’re right. And this is precisely why you could say that J.R.’s wit outruns his talent: not only due his references to his idols, lyrical samplings, Dipset guest-list, and Kanye West comparatives make History in the Making
and interesting listen, they also make you wonder “Why should
I listen to this guy" He seems so…lame compared to everything he‘s going on about.” When all is said and done, you won’t really find yourself with an answer to that question. J.R. just falls flat on his face all throughout the album.
History in the Making
is ridiculously bloated, as well. Nineteen tracks clocking in at a whopping 72:53 is more than intimidating for the average hip-hop fan. You see, this is the type of album that draws success off of the popularity of one or two songs. Unfortunately for J.R. there really isn’t anything here to redeem History in the Making
. All of the songs sound virtually identical. Basically J.R. tries to sound like a gangsta-rapper, while coming across as pop chart seeker. You could essentially equate his music to 50 Cent
’s, only with slightly better lyrics/delivery/music. Stress the slightly to the point of fracture, and you’ll have it. Self-indulgent bits of filler like “On the Block” are neither amusing nor warranted in the context of the album. Pulling-out-your-hair-in-frustration fare such as “High Music” will make you want to turn the album off right then and there. That’s assuming you can make it that far into this swollen ego-trip of an album, as “High Music” comes up about 56 minutes in. Another late-inning flop is ‘That’s A Bet” which curiously features Lily-white Houston rap sensation, Paul Wall
. Then again, perhaps it isn’t so curious, as Wall manages to drive his hooks into just about every major rap album that’s released. “That’s A Bet” is only notable because it’s the only time on the whole album where J.R. isn’t outperformed by a guest (because let’s face it: Paul Wall flat out sucks).
On the whole beginning of the album, however, we hear J.R. working in cahoots with his pals from Dipset. On overly ambitious tracks like “Back Wit It,” “Goonies,” “Byrd Call,” and “Pay Homage,” J.R. get plenty of dippy support, which overshadows his performance like a solar eclipse. As for every other song on History in the Making
, they are either carbon-copies of the Dipset tracks or simply unmentionable attempts at J.R. to do something on his own. J.R. is a relatively talented lyricist, I’ll give him that. Some of the rhymes he manages to eek out are intelligent and display a certain sardonic nature that carries a certain degree of charm. It’s unfortunate that History in the Making
should turn out this way, as J.R. does have a reasonable amount of talent. The only problem is that it’s buried below a layer of shi
t a Dipset and a half deep.
You’re going to feel cheated after listening to History in the Making
(assuming you want to get entirely through this sub-par behemoth). It’s like getting half an album, really. There’s minor bit of glory where you agonizingly hear J.R.’s frustrating potential break through. However, in the sea of his “all-star” cast coupled with the galaxy-sized bits of redundancy, these moments are few and far between. History in the Making
is actually an apt title for this album. Since no artist has ever managed to make themselves sound less pleasing as opposed to their inspirations, J.R. Writer has forever etched his name into the annals of hip-hop history. Safely assume that Dipset held the hammer and chisel for him.