A 4 Minute Mile
Posted February 20, 2020
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need To Know:
Victory Lap is KJ-52's last album. It is the end of an era. After more than 20 years of giving us quality Christian hip hop, KJ is retiring. At least in terms of producing music as KJ-52. Victory Lap leaves us with a much more mature KJ-52; someone who's much different than the artist we became so familiar with back in the 2000s. Instead of Coke, fries, cheeseburgers, Mountain Dew, and stank breath, we get a seasoned, more mature KJ. The 2020 version of KJ is what we'd expect of a grown man with a wife of more than 20 years, a father of two, and all of the experience that comes with it.
What It Sounds Like:
Although the content has matured throughout the years, one thing that has remained consistent is KJ's smooth flows and old school lyricism. His writing continues to be witty. And, his new production partners--PoetiCS, AJ Jenkins, and Theory Hazit--ensure the beats are fresh and modern, yet still paying homage to the school that KJ came from.
The joy in diving into KJ's lyrics is that they are densely-packed rhymes, much like a freestyler. It emotes a different time in hip hop when emcees were lauded for their lyricism, not merely for how they got the dance floor moving. A true emcee can rock the party without a beat. And, when you listen closely, you can find clever lyrics about stinky breath in "Pay Attention": "Ya dirty mouth needs some listerine/Plus, you ought to gargle that junk up with Mr. Clean/It ain't the same since I hit the scene /It ain't about the money or the fame that they give to me/Cause I ain't focused on the little things/Like who's the dopest cuz my hope is in only king."
You can hear rhyme triplets in "I Got This": "I train for the rhyme play like a 5k let the rhyme spray/They look at me sideways cuz I ain't claiming that crime pay/But, I did it my way been rocking and popping since nine trey/So, move to the side way you stopping and clogging the move of the highway."
And, you can hear the heart of the man exposed in "Victory Lap": "My wife is by my side, but she needs more from me/I know my God has/Promised to supply my needs/But, if I'm being honest, that's getting hard to see/More of me, less of you /I need to flip that up and just embrace the truth." This kind of writing and rhyming doesn't come along every day, and it's something that should truly be appreciated.
Best Song On The Record:
"I Got This" epitomizes KJ-52. The lyrics hit hard. There is just enough braggadocio. And, there is endless wordplay throughout. On top of all of what KJ did on the record, it was greatly pronounced by PoetiCS' production. PoetiCS definitely brought the drums in.
For Fans Of:
Dru bex, Derek Minor, KB, Bizzle
"Hit the lights, I ain't coming back, it's time to run down my victory lap." It is common for artists to quit before their time is up. In following KJ's career throughout the years--especially since his renaissance in 2015--it is clear that this is a man who was only going to hang things up on his own terms. The inability to get signed pushed him to set an example for veterans and freshmen alike with massive success in crowdfunding. Victory Lap is a fitting end to this chapter of KJ-52. I look forward to what we will see from Jonah Sorrentino in the future.
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