CJ Emulous - Modern Warfare
Posted by James Tabron on Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 1:06pm EST
To be pleasantly surprised is a pretty good feeling. Having never heard of CJ Emulous I wasnâ€™t sure what his album would sound like. I was surprised to hear songs with pretty good production and well thought out hooks. The intro â€śWar Cryâ€ť does sound like something Iâ€™ve heard before and isnâ€™t the best example of the production on the album but it still pleases.
â€śNot Shakenâ€ť will remind you of something Cajo would do on the hook but Jesus Geek kills his verse. The beat goes hard and many will find themselves letting this one ride. â€śCuriousâ€ť takes a completely different turn in production with hard hitting kicks and horns mixed with very eerie sounding strings, this track will draw you in and bring you to listen to the message, which is quite potent. Here CJ explores the dangers of curiosity and the message will likely ring true to many who have suffered greatly for their curiosity.
Tracks like â€śBehind Enemy Linesâ€ť are what really surprised me about this album. This musical piece is as smooth as silk. With a laid back composition of Rhodes pianos, congas, and beautiful strings mixed with the beautiful voice of Shamaya, CJ dives into the inner part of his soul and gets transparent with the listener. He voices some of his battles which men all over the world will be able to relate to. It is the opinion of the reviewer that if CJ makes more music like this youâ€™ll be hearing about him more and more.
Admittedly, when â€śTimberâ€ť came on I expected Thiâ€™sl to jump through my headphones. This track gets you hype from the onset. Itâ€™s not a trap style track but itâ€™s just different and I found myself excited to hear how the track would play out. CJ spits pretty laid back and matches the energy of the track quite well.
With â€śWorkâ€ť CJ makes his contribution to your workout plan. An up-tempo track with a hook that will keep you moving, CJ is showing his musical versatility. He follows this track with â€śFired Upâ€ť which is much like â€śWorkâ€ť and is sure to please the fans of todayâ€™s music. The beat is pretty simple until the hook comes in and will give the dancing saints a chance to Dougie, etc. These two tracks along with â€śGod Boasterâ€ť donâ€™t push the limits of music and youâ€™ll realize that youâ€™ve heard plenty of songs like this. Though well executed, I believe CJ is capable of stepping outside of the box musically and these last three tracks werenâ€™t very imaginative.
Now, as â€śLivinâ€™ Itâ€ť comes on youâ€™re immediately transported to the beach of Miami. It just has that sound. This track is very much out of the box. The hook is sang very well and just reminds me of something that wouldâ€™ve been very popular in the 80â€™s (I mean this in a good way). The downside to this song is the last verse. Thatâ€™s not a knock on Rev Rich but he switched up the vibe of the song by using the tongue twister style of rap, which just took the smoothness out of the track. The other two verses rode the beat almost perfectly, the last verse might have been perfect on any other track but it just didnâ€™t work on this track. In fact, that verse could keep this track off of some Ipods.
â€śI Hate It Hereâ€ť touches on a common theme in CHH. CJ expresses vehemently that he awaits his heavenly abode. In this track he takes the neo hip hop/techno route. The hook is very well sang by F.A.R. and takes the track to a level on par with just about any artist in the game. â€śStillâ€ť is CJâ€™s best ATL style track. This track is an anthem in the making. The hook is catchy and I felt my adrenaline rush when the beat finally dropped. This hook, like the hook on â€śI Hate It Hereâ€ť is on par with the best in the genre. Having said that, the verses have some good moments but I feel like nobody really matched the gravity of this track. The listener will come away thinking the track went hard but may not be able to say â€śso and so killed his verse!!â€ť
When I listened to â€śTrophyâ€ť I asked myself â€śWhere this dude find Eric Benet?â€ť If any of you artists need a nice male vocalist on your track with that Eric Benet sound then you need to get at Amar Khalil. Here CJ expresses his appreciation for his helpmeet so I love the subject of the song but didnâ€™t love CJâ€™s delivery of the lyrics. Shucks, I was even surprised the track had a bridge (which is very rare in hip-hop), and it was perfect for the song. In light of this amazing vocal performance I wish CJ wouldâ€™ve stepped it up to make this track one for the ages but he was sub par on his end.
As the album winds down, I found a gem in the track â€śCrazyâ€ť. Here, CJ touches on a topic many young Christians have or will face: Family and friends calling you crazy because you chose Godâ€™s will instead of what everyone thought you shouldâ€™ve done. The beat is dope and the hook, once again, is really good and is the hi-lite of the track even though his verses are pretty good too.
In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised to hear some of the best hooks Iâ€™ve heard from an album this year. This is usually the area artists struggle in but CJ seems to have a gift for writing hooks. Regardless of what happens in his rap career I believe he should always have a job writing hooks for somebody famous. As a rapper, CJ is serviceable but wonâ€™t turn many heads. He may drop a punch line here or there that makes you think but he still has much room to grow. He also has delivery issues that need to be addressed; these issues reside mostly in the area of timing and breath control. These things can be fixed with practice. He also lacks the presence in his voice to take many of the tracks to that next level. I hate to say but this is a big deal and can be the difference between the public taking you seriously or not. Letâ€™s hope CJ masters what makes him unique and the sound that fits his voice. Not everybody can do trap style tracks but it seems like every artists wants to try their hand at it when they shouldnâ€™t. CJ is not alone in thisâ€¦
The production is pretty good and I was impressed to hear some tracks that actually pushed the envelope and didnâ€™t sound like everything else in the genre. Even though there are run of the mill tracks on the album I applaud CJ for pushing the boundaries with tracks like â€śLivin Itâ€™, â€śBehind Enemy Linesâ€ť, and â€śTimberâ€ť. I also believe the album suffered slightly due to features that didnâ€™t fit like the last verse on â€śNot Shakenâ€ť and â€śLivinâ€™ Itâ€ť. Features are a risky business. They can elevate a track or de-escalate a track quickly. Overall, I enjoyed this project.
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 4/5
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