It is usually a stretch to claim that an artist has recorded his best music, especially when you haven’t completely heard all his other stuff yet. However, the 5 songs on the EP “Feed the Monster” have stories to tell and some wonderful noise to make. On it James Reed has cultivated a much more than satisfying blend of alt-folk and his patented brand of hip hop street poetry.
James Reed is a Brooklyn , NY based songwriter, singer, emcee, and producer who walks the edge of folk music and hip hop, blending the lyricism, melody, and ideology of American roots with new school aesthetics in a completely pure writing style and delivery specialized in ideas of love, heartbreak, desire, pain, and power.
The major problem when reviewing music like that produced by James Reed is that as a reviewer you have nothing to measure it by. The guy is probably in a genre of his own. He is leading the way, and you have no choice but to follow and try to work it out for yourself.
The words mean something; the music is daring and organic – hardly has hip-hop or rap leaned so disparately far from its street-edged roots and come away the better for it. We’ve heard hip-hop go pop, rock, soul, jazz and even ridiculously country, to my mind, but this is something completely different.
Songs like “Problems”, “Run”, “Deliver Me / Needed RMX” and “Buy Me a Tattoo”, are quite simply some of the most memorable moments of genre blending I have heard. James Reed’s music doesn’t just give hip-hop or folk another common denominator for fans to enjoy; it elevates both genres ten thousand miles above their arid pop state-of-being today.
This EP is poetry, street music, great visualization, introspection, social commentary, and nothing short of sheer sonic magic. The songs that impress me most are the most stripped down ones – an acoustic guitar and a voice on “Run” and “Buy Me a Tattoo” – as they come across as raw, visceral and cut to the core deeply.
That is what hip-hop once was about. That is what roots Folk once was about. And it is exactly what James Reed’s music is about right now. For something a little more elaborated musically, “Problems” is really smooth and groovy too. On “Monster” Reed seamlessly translates his street poet sensibilities and rhyming capabilities to reflect the cultural and social issues of today.
I would place this album in the rarefied company of outstanding works of musical artistry. “Feed the Monster” in my opinion, is one of those rare musical treasures that come along all too infrequently. It is an EP that you will listen to again and again because it has something to say, and James Reed says what he has to say with guts and integrity.
He also recorded and produced the EP, with the exception of the “Needed Me” instrumental, which was produced by DJ Mustard. Rarely has a blend of musical stylings sounded so transcendent.
James Reed’s website theworldthroughmyheadphones (WTMH) is an artistic brand focusing on music, poetry, and design, founded in New York City.