TJ Francis – Free Your Mind EP Review

So I have no knowledge of TJ Francis other than he is an MC from West London. At the moment in the UK Hip Hop scene it seems like a lot of newer artists that are coming up are just riding the current trends. These current trends at the moment are the Afro stylings of J Hus/Kojo Fundz or trap music. Whilst I personally have no problem with either, It can be quite repetitive looking for new artists to listen to.  Personally i believe the diversity of the UK scene is what makes it head and shoulders better than the US.

The first track on this mixtape Hustler prayer ft Keys is perfectly placed as instantly it grabs you. I really enjoy the instrumental, but for the life of me I don’t know what song it is from.  It’s perfect grown up road music. What I really enjoy about the track is that is that lyrics are the forefront of the song. The one nit-pick with the song however is the chorus, whilst musically the chorus is fine and the singer Keys’ vocals are good, sonically the chorus isn’t mixed as well as the rest of the track. I wouldn’t be surprised if the chorus was recorded separately. A Strong track nonetheless

The next track Trouble is actually the best track on the mixtape. It’s no secret that I seriously rate story telling. I believe songs such as this enforce my belief that rap is just poetry with music. The instrumental is a beautiful accompaniment to the lyrics as it’s got a subtle ambient vibe. The chorus on this track is the perfect partner to the verses. Unfortunately the singer on the track isn’t credited which is a shame as he brings pure emotion to the chorus. One small thing I would change is that I wish that the chorus had an added instrument, This in my opinion would bring in an added intensity. That however isn’t a criticism just an observation.

The Messages to Fallon interlude is a nice touch.

Wish You Well Feat Mad J & MNELIA is a proper grown up song. Even though the track is essentially just one verse it still manages to get the message across of what he is saying. One certain line really stuck with me.

“I wanna simple life, buff wife and a mortgage”

and if we can’t buy it twice then it means we can’t afford it

And that’s alright cause all these moments are rewarding

Living comfy with your rider is a better feeling than balling”

That right there is the most grown up shit I’ve heard this year so far. As someone who doesn’t buy into the superficial bullshit most rappers feel inclined to spout. I love it when someone raps something real like this. The song ends with an interview snippet from Biggie Smalls in which he chastises rappers not being themselves and just copying what’s popular.   

Old Me Feat Wilbury War Boys is in my opinion the weakest song on the mixtape. That in itself is actually a compliment because it’s not a bad song it just isn’t as good as the other tracks. It’s also more the featured act’s song. However I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that their name just reminds me of those minions in Mad Max. I do like the chorus and the instrumental on this track.

And finally the last two tracks Where I Come From & Best Friend are covers. Now I don’t mind covers just not too many and I don’t care much if it is not a cover that is being overdone. However as Tj Francis himself has bars he actually pulls it off. I honestly believe his cover of Ed Sheeran here is better than stormzy’s

Final Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed and I can gladly say I am happy I chose this mixtape to review. Whilst it doesn’t re-invent the wheel it is a strong body of music. Also in the current climate it is a respite from the copycat styles.  I also wouldn’t have minded one or two more songs but the length does leave you wanting more. It is a thoughtful grown up reflection on life in which the lyrics are the centre stage. I advise to check this out as it good

 

Flow – 8/10

 

Lyricism – 8.5/10

 

Beats/ Production – 8/10

 

Songcraft – 8/10

 

Concept/ Originality 7.5/10

 

Final Score

40/50

 

http://hoodtapes.co.uk/tj-francis-free-mind-ep/

Aystar – Scousematic

Having never really listened to an artist from liverpool before I had no idea what to expect. From the name of the mixtape however I guessed it was gonna be typical gang/street B.S. and boy was I right.  What we have here is a 16 track mixtape that at times drags.

 

On Intro & Don’t Quit this is a good way to start as it tells you everything what your about to hear. Liverpool Street raps that are rhymed through a thick scouse brogue. His gun raps are sharp however and he gives a sense that he knows what he is talking about on these tracks.

 

2 On Ft Safone & Truffle Butter ft Kingsley in both songs Aystar’s Verses are boring as he just rattles of the exact same thing. however both Safone and Kingsley completely outshine him which happens a lot in this mixtape. As both these artists are on their A game.

 

Minds Gone, Fuck The System, Quiet Storm, Lean Back, I Need You Freestyle actually brings the whole mixtape down and if they weren’t on the mixtape it would be better spaced and be allowed to breathe. It would also serve the mixtape better as the best songs are left. These songs however are make the whole mixtape Too long and these songs are crap plain and simple.

 

Cheeky Bastard

Another song that sounds more like the featured artists song instead of aystar’s. This especially as the song is completely different from the rest of the mixtape. With a great upbeat chorus. And vocals that stay perfectly in the background. This song is just fun. Aystar actually has an alright verse it just seems like the he is trying to fit to the instrumental and the hook.

 

Oh No Freestyle & Scousematic Freestyle

Maybe his best example if you’re introducing him to someone new. This is him at his best that is either a good thing or bad thing your choice.

 

Best Song

 

Dont Quit ft C4ent / Cheeky Bastard ft Kingsley

 

Final Thoughts

 

If it is a chore to listen to the whole mixtape from end to end then you have put too many songs on it. His biggest problem is that he does not seem like this super real respected killer thug shooter drug dealer ladies man king of south Liverpool that he rhymes about. That would be OK if he were playing a character but he is not.

 

Now I could be wrong and he could be all that it’s just that he doesn’t Seem it . There’s almost no conviction in his words and a lot of this comes from his flow whilst he a decent rapper everything he says is said in the same inflection same tone same cadence. This only really works if you have a deep voice. It comes across more lethargic than criminal.

 

One more thing and this is to all rappers out there don’t  EVER load up your mixtape with people who are better than you. Every single featured artist on this mixtape is better than him it baffles me how nobody in his camp could have foreseen this happening. Yes it opens you up to more fans however you come across as worse for it. So Aystar is rough a giant lump of coal but there is something there lets hope he can find it.

 

Grade

Flow – 7/10

 

Lyricism –  6.5/10

 

Beats/ Production – 6/10

 

Songcraft – 5.5/10

 

Concept/ Originality 5/10

Final Score

30/50