Young Chozen - Class President
Posted by Jim Clifford on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 4:46pm EST
"Now me, I live it by the golden rule: That you can love God, have fun and be cool"
If you've clicked over to Dasouth.com anytime in the past month, you've probably been greeted by the "Haha choose Chozen, that's right" intro to his 'Class President' music video. Whether you heard more than that before clicking the 'skip ad' button or not, you may feel pretty familiar to this 25-year old, Cali-based emcee. And if the impression you have of him is in line with his own self-declared mission statement above, you've hit the nail on the head. If it's not, it might be time to get familiar.
There's some props to be give for being yourself in the music world, even when the 'real you' isn't melancholia or shouting louder than the street corner preacher. Being real doesn't always have to equal heart-wrenching exposure of your dark side....as is the case with Young Chozen, being real is just as simple as being your goofy self and not caring what people think, as long as you're entertaining at least a few. I had my first listen to Chozen a couple years back when his 'Extra Credit' mixtape with DJ Sean Blue dropped. What stuck out to me the most was dude's confidence rooted in being free, not from being hard. What other rappity rapper do you know who spit over Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the U.S.A.' because he wanted to and not cause he lost a bet? That list begins and ends with class president hopeful Chozen.
Album opener 'Class President' sets the tone for the album immediately: Fun, but not lazy, rhymes with beats that won't explode on the radio but that have the power to get your shoulders shuffling left to right. The way that school bells are integrated into the beat as Chozen gives his opening argument to be class president, is simple genius. The fact that the skits that open and close the little-too-long track make me crack a smirk is worth its weight in wax too. "Drive Thru" has a KJ-52 feel to it, a la "Mountain Dew" and a snappy beat with plenty of "Oh I see what you did there" lyrical moments. The dubstep breakdowns of "Tell it All Around" are infectious, making that track a standout. "The Rock," isn't as successful at its combination of genres, this time bringing weighted drums and a smoky rock atmosphere into the studio, but it's a weak track sonically and lyrically.
I mentioned something earlier that I want to emphasiz: The fact that, while Chozen's bars will likely never be in consideration for the hall of fame, they aren't weak. He has the often unacknowledged skill to move swiftly through sixteen bars without having to stretch for lines that make you shake your head and go 'really?' His style is less punchlines and more consistency. Even in the cheesy "La,La, La, Love" he manages, along with some quirky synth, to make the track listenable with minimal eye-rolling lines. The smoky joint "Pot of Gold" is a track I found on repeat in the love-joint starved world of holy hip-hop. His flow switches up to a more conversational, calm mix to make this love song distinct. Not so for the grating "31 Status," though. A weak chopped-n-screwed chorus and a lack of depth make it an easy skip. "Way up There" fares better with the high-pitched chorus atop a Steve Erkel-esque beat (It makes perfect sense when you hear it).
The album slides to home plate with some retrospection in the form of "I'm Gone" and "Stereo." 'Gone' is a conversation with young chozen and Chozen circa 2012. Sonically, it's pleasing, if not exceptional and seems to get tastier each verse but fails to make a mark in the crowded 'See ya old life, I'm done with you' song world. "Stereo" is again a typical album closer: Soft horns, contemplative piano line and a joyful chorus, but it's well produced and never sounds stale. The seriousness of that track and closing album skit "Schools Out," have more weight because we get to see the heart and motivation behind this friendly class clown we've spent the last 65 minutes with. The over-critic in me has the natural reaction to label it all as cliched and trite, but you really get the feeling that Chozen is laying his heart out there and I have no problem enjoying it.
At 18 tracks, the album brings to mind the over-loaded rap albums of the early 200's, that if some of the fat had been trimmed we'd have a much more appealing meal in front of us. The handful of songs that I didn't even mention (Set Em Up, Head Noddin', Backyard, Here I come and I'm So On to name a few) are just kind of there, to the album's flaw. But what is good here is just plain fun. This is the kind of project I want to bump late on a Saturday night in a car full of friends and fam, acting reckless. The production quality is excellent and the mood is fun but never shallow. If that's what you're looking for, I have no hesitation in telling you to pick up "Class President." If you're looking for anything else, though, you'll probably end up disappointed. Did I mention it‚Äôs fun?
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 4/5
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