By Matt Cenci
Grand Rapids is not exactly known for its budding underground hip hop scene, so it was with great skepticism that I began listening to the new album by DuhJuanYay, PopRoxx. The album begins with an intro track featuring a melancholic piano track backdropping a sample of Micky Rourke in The Wrestler. In the scene he’s talking to his daughter, imploring her not to hate him for being a douche of a father. It’s a depressing scene that serves to underscore the underlying themes of the album – death, emotional angst, depression, and devastation. Admittedly not cheery topics, but DuhJuanYay’s lyrics are eminently relatable – chances are you’ve found yourself in one or all of the scenarios he portrays in the songs on this album, at one point in your life or another.
Within the first 30 seconds of the second track on the album (“Face in the Clouds”) I knew my skepticism was misplaced. It’s immediately evident that significant time was spent on the mixing and mastering of the album. The sound balance is perfect; it sounds like a commercially produced album. Samples taken from a range of sources (Rolling Stones, Ice Cube, Blink 182, The Cure, Nirvana to name just a few) are used to create original, engrossing, and head-nodifying beats.
On “Cooked”, DuhJuanYay explores the blue collar life of a line cook:
on your third strike, can’t call in sick
your boss is about as cool as a bag of dicks
submit yourself to the torture, it comes easy for ya
sweatin out every bit of moisture
noon hits, catchin sick right before the rush
whoever thought breakin even would ever be so tough
The lyrics do not use complex rhyme schemes, but they are all very audible, and his timing is on point. Excellent production combined with a measured delivery style ensures that every lyric is easy to hear and understand the first time you listen to it, which certainly adds value to a hip hop album.
To sum it up, this is a great album, and it’s available for free download here. Check it out, and make sure you check the artist’s Facebook page for upcoming shows. He is going to be at the Intersection on July 13 with another underground hip hop legend, Illogic from Ohio, for what is sure to be a fantastic show. Come out and support local hip hop!