On “Still Howling 5”, the Bronx rapper John J uses his signature aggressive flow with its emotional vocal inflections to preach, teach, and reveal. Melodramatic storytelling has always been his shtick, and his ability to acknowledge different perspectives of a situation on several songs add plenty of depth to his character. John J’s latest studio album turns the fire that his previous albums lit, into an absolute wild fire. In my opinion, this is one of the best album’s he’s ever created. John J at this point is undeniably one of the most gritty, real, and hottest rappers in the underground rap game. This album is an absolute must own for not only John J fans, but fans of rap in general.
You certainly can’t fault John J for his work ethic, as he gives the fans more of exactly what they want. Sounding as irrepressibly furious as always, right from the first track, “Stay Howling”, this is John J on the top of his game.
He maintains the groovy feel of earlier efforts but the diversity of this release has been improved considerably, entering previously unknown territories. From the epically cinematic soundscape of the opening track, to the bluesy “Fake Friends” ft. King Low, John J deals out more than a handful of diversity.
While being a superb emcee and having grooves in abundance, it’s his pounding aggression that makes John J such an irresistible proposition. Listen to the soul infused musical foundation of “Bury Me a G”, and notice how John J contrasts it with a smooth but anxiously edgy flow.
Languidly dripping in quality and the rapper’s usual inventiveness. He is a ravenous emcee who sounds like he stalks the streets just as much as he should the radio airwaves, ready to prove his bark is as sharp as his bite.
His brooding eyes, intimidating flow and the weight of his material is ready to revitalize a scene which seems to have meekly succumbed to mumble rap. “Last Cigarette” ft. Stotty P, may well have a cutesy melodic hook, but the edgy cockiness and lyrical precision that distinguishes John J is firmly in place. A hybrid of sensitivity, raw passion and ruthlessness, John J is also capable of taking down the intensity a notch, as he does on “Fades”.
In the flashy world of commercial rap, it seems, image is everything. A rapper’s worth is apparently measured in how much of a playa he can present himself to be. To this end, your average commercial rapper usually decks himself out in the trappings of success.
Behind the mic, however, it’s the results that count, and no amount of empty boasting can substitute for good-old rhyming skills. All seething menace and raw visceral power, John J delivers the goods on “Waiting on Sanity”. The clever lyricism doubled with tight production, shows that, is still way ahead of the game. “Still Howling 5” is just as good, if not better, than anything he has done previously.