Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Song: “RareHitZ” w/ JKJ
Producer: Mi Marc
WonderHitz Representer, JKJ, calls upon R.A.R.E Nation artist Ads Antalik to add a refreshing verse to the “Mi Marc” produced track simply entitled: RareHitZ. These two provide a impressive display of depth and wordplay as they paint the picture of their current situations. Ads is currently preparing for the release of his new mixtape in early 2013. Follow Ads (@Ads_Antalik) and R.A.R.E. Nation (@RareNation) for more updates and release dates from Ads Antalik.
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From the often busy WonderHitz camp comes their latest installment in the form of JKJ’s NineOne. NineOne has been self-described by JKJ as “a compilation of released / unreleased music that I had collected over a year that I held on to because it didn’t feel right for the previous projects. It was once I had really sat down and listened to all that I’ve accumulated that I felt these few songs meshed together well enough to compile a solo mixtape that I was able to really feel.” But does NineOne truly fit together well enough for JKJ to proudly stamp his name on it as a solo project? Or, like his description suggests, are the songs on the ten-track mixtape too different and disjointed to merit a release, and would they have been better left on the cutting room floor, or high on a shelf, collecting dust, where he found them?
Hosted by Palermo Stone’s DJ and drummer, DJ Spillz, NineOne gets underway with two tracks featuring the R.A.R.E. Nation artist as well as fellow WonderHitz mate, Scoot, further solidifying the chemistry that the three have found on numerous songs. Ignoring the fact that the two adjacent songs bring messages that are polar opposites of each other, and while “Cost 2 Be A Boss” is utterly forgettable, “Underdog” sets the tone for the remainder of the mixtape.
JKJ finds his feet on more emotional songs, and NineOne is full of them. ”Eyes Closed” features some particularly insightful and clever bars: “So many nights I cried / staring at the sky / asking the Lord “Why / do I even fucking try / to go the right way?” / ‘Cause I’m sick of the detours, the road to success is rocky and I’m kind of sick of climbing / I will find my way, I don’t need no navigation.” Not for the only time here, JKJ shows listeners that his simple and sometimes predictable flow can be packed with metaphors and a level of introspection not normally seen in an artist of his age. To compliment his quality verses, JKJ is no stranger to crafting a catchy hook either. Many listeners will catch themselves chanting several of the tape’s standout hooks and not even realize it, which is never a bad thing.
Playing NineOne does not give listeners a clear sense of pace, as it varies from slow to fast and back to slow with no clear direction, much like one can expect from a compilation rather than a polished album. The final tracks of the tape feature two of NineOne‘s highlights in another standout collaboration with Palermo Stone in “D.O.E. (Death of an Empire)” and an absolutely show-stealing verse from ZaE on “Back 2 School” to close out the tape. But unfortunately for JKJ, these highlights are ultimately the root cause of NineOne‘s downfall.
Understandably, an artist wants to put on his fellow label-mates and collaborators when crafting his solo projects, but here the key word “solo” seems to have been ignored. Of the ten tracks offered to us, a startling seven of them included a feature from another artist, sometimes multiple artists. At such a short length, it’s impossible to retain the majority of the spotlight while trying to share it with others, no matter how good the material is. While JKJ was never sub-par anywhere on NineOne, he was never the focal point either, which made this a forgettable contribution to his personal collection, but a quality showcase of local talent.
Overall Rating: 2/5