Sober mind power
I’m sure there were likelier candidates than Jereme Rogers to become the Christian handrail version of Chris Gentry for the late aughts, but today, having awoken to the skateboard peanut gallery’s equivalent of Paris Hilton’s two-way getting cracked, I can’t imagine who those candidates might have been. It’s like the final piece of an amazing puzzle has fallen into place: former Caucasian child star, copious amounts of ostentatious jewelry, sudden and fervent conversion to Christianity, neck tattoos, and now–of course!–rap music.
As a musician, “JR” is surprisingly distinct from Terry Kennedy, his partner in luxury goods appreciation and internet business ventures. Where TK’s rough-edged braggadocio centers on money, women and hitting people over the head with gun-butts, JR plays the role of the elder statesman, imparting the hard-learned lessons of street life which he knows so well. A quick overview of the JR songography as currently available:
“This the Type of Shit” f. Roc: JR’s breathy crooning masks disarmingly smooth disses, akin to Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar, and the vulgarity of the hook (handled here by JR himself) belies intricate conceptual thinking on the part of the former Transworld rookie of the year (see the “ten letters” bar). Following the trend recently popularized by Jay-Z, JR apparently does not write down his rhymes, but the instrumental harkens back to the easy-riding G-funk era.
Key line: “This is just step one.”
Rating: 5 neck tattoos
“Nobody Wanna Live Without” F. Eddie Rap Life: A more urgent number, driving and a touch bleak, JR gets deep speaking on the struggles of youth today. Growing up in the hood, a topic JR knows well, isn’t easy and he understands that often kids’ only outlet lies in flights of fancy: “Late night dreams of you and a gold rope, UHHH… how fresh you could look in that pea coat” “You could be the next Jay-Hov…” But JR warns against turning to a life of crime to accomplish these ends, imploring youngsters to instead “open up your bibles, put down your rifles.”
Key line: “Shoulda been content with the life you were used to.”
Rating: Four neck tattoos
“Keep the Faith” f. Renee Renee: JR, despite his deep devotion to Christ and providing a positive and sober urban role model for the kids, is no angel. He’s lived the fast life and still slips up now and then, evidenced by the “smoke trees” line. Yet it’s what one does with these mistakes–JR probably would call them opportunities–that determines the measure of a man, and JR is right up front with his humanity: “Make mistakes, shit that’s okay, me I musta made about 10 today/Just made another one, I just said shit, but I won’t say it again unless the track require.” Too Short-esque wordplay with “Heaven-sent flow”–JR’s just getting started. (Judging by Renee Renee’s wavering chorus, JR isn’t alone here.)
Key line: “Go for your dreams, believe in it, me I’m knee deep in it.”
Rating: Three neck tattoos