The “Still Howling” EP by John J has grit and dirt to it, and it; tonality is what can define hip-hop artists from one another. You get a sense of John J’s rich voice early on in ‘If I Only Had,’ the piano-driven instrumental building with sections and layers of pads, bass, and percussive punches all sounding under his thick and insistent delivery. John J is an underground artist from the Bronx NY with a deep passion for music. It has been said that he has a song each emotion you may be feeling on any given day. John J claims his spot in the music industry, making his dues highly payable and making the other dudes remember the importance of his role in it.
John J’s gravelly tones, direct rap bars and unperturbed demeanor drip in life experience on his this EP. The emcee spits proudly about his grind and hustle on “Lonewolf”, and he repeatedly demonstrates that he’s more than happy to side step the trends that preoccupy certain younger acts.
“Still Howling” certainly doesn’t pander to any ‘pop bling’ type hip-pop ideas. And that kind of stance is admirable in an industry full of hip-hop artists blindly following each other and bringing the whole genre down.
Confessional offerings, bangers, and the EP’s catalog of forceful, authoritative beats impact thoroughly here. Plus the freshness and John J’s concrete, sturdy flow and presence, does even more to impress the listener.
Songs that stop you in your tracks and make you pay serious attention include: “Move Back”, “Lonewolf”, “Our Father” and “All Odds”. But there is not a dud here, and you can switch your favorite tracks around at will, depending on your personal taste. This joint is hot all the way through!
As an artist, you have to give John J his due. He’s not afraid to display his life, his thoughts, and his experiences for the world to see. There’s no denying the lyrical ability of John J, he is a fantastic writer; particularly on story driven material such as “Move Back”, for the best track on this collection.
In a genre wrought with exaggerated narratives that strain the definition of credibility, John J’s creative output offers an interesting alternative. He has found his niche in transparency storytelling, and the songs on this EP play testimony to that.
The internal conflicts in John J’s mind and soul are what make him such an interesting listen, and perhaps this is why the release feels like the perfect opportunity to strike out to a market that is eagerly awaiting emcees that are able to deliver personal truths…or at the very least, true emotion.
John J proves on “Still Howling” that he can certainly deliver both. And it is through this prism of sprawling and relentless images and lyrical flows that we get hooked onto John J’s world.