Context is important because it feels like twenty-five-year-old Jun!or aka Mr Donald Blunt’s latest album, “Life On The Edge”, is a culmination of both ideology and style. The first thing and, perhaps not coincidentally, the most important thing that one notices about this record is that it radiates confidence. It evokes many a thing, this confidence: a sense of urgency, a man attaining an oft-coveted position of power. Though mainly (and this won’t surprise a single soul that has followed Jun!or until now) the confidence is so obviously the product of an artist obsessed with the concept and quality of his projects. It’s not just an obsession, either, as “Introvert” makes abundantly and immediately clear straight out the gate. No, the record’s opener is galvanized and bristling, positing this autonomy as an imperative not just for the individual, but for an entire school of thought.
By lyric, by delivery, by beats and an urgent need for a raised voice – “Life On The Edge” parades its vitality, as it revolves slowly around the axis of Jun!or’s self-determinism. “Ride 2 It” proves that the album has travelled from the Haiwain born and Las Vegas raised artist’s world to ours. His world is full of oxymorons, punchlines, double entendres and abstractions that provide clarity, controlled energy, beats that are both cozy and banging; all of which are endearing yet thought-provoking.
And so it may take time, I think, for fringe-dwellers to break through to this record’s center, being that it takes pride in being both clear and then at times obscure. Why do records like this exist, if not to be studied and scrutinized and delved into.
Luckily those of us, who picked up on Jun!or in 2015 with the releases of his “Lost Vegas”. We were here to see the spark become the flame, and it’s clear that this project is contingent on what came before it. This new record is cunning, streetwise, introspective and even subversive — as though it finds freedom by moving in the opposite direction to its forebears. With the realization of this freedom, Jun!or manipulates his flow at will.
He quite deliberately moves against the grain of the beat in “Prayer”, and will interject at random intervals with crazed adlibs and/or vocal glitches. But it isn’t self-indulgent, nor is it pretentious. This creative direction takes Jun!or to the next phase naturally, and it’s the only logical next step; the goals have been set by the record’s predecessors.
I don’t think it can be stressed enough that these tracks are in way, about reclaiming one’s personal boundaries by placing emphasis on that which makes the individual successfully independent, or independently successful, whichever way you want to look at it. Some of the song titles alone spell out where Jun!or is laying his head and his heart– “On My Grind (feat. Bashstaythrowed)”, “Make It Work” and “How I’m Livin (feat. J. Ames x Bashstaythrowed)”, are just some examples.
Along with the all-around improved songwriting the other major positive changes implemented in “Life On The Edge” is Jun!or lyricism. The man’s lyrics on the whole have a unique aspect of being easy to hear, easy to decipher, with plenty of niche references which distinguish him immediately from his contemporaries.
The focus on introspective lyricism with the cutback on pop-culture hits not only helps “Life On The Edge” feel genuine but can only cement Jun!or’s reputation as one of the better lyric writers out there. The production remains at a high level throughout the album, as Jun!or’s creative tastes shine through and marry with the quirky rapping wonderfully. Especially on twisted standouts like “You Already Know”, “Tsunami” and “Flatline”. Jun!or is at his best here.
His shift to a more cohesive brand of songwriting serves to highlight both his lyricism and the production much more so than previous releases. His high speed flow will serve him well in further building his popularity and technical credibility. Anyone looking for some lyrically dense rap with silky smooth beats in tandem can do little harm in checking this 14 track album out.