Mr. J. Medeiros
Friends Enemies Apples Apples
Forget whatever preformed notions you may hold about hip-hop. Mr. J. Medeiros throws out the traditional hip-hop script for his latest full-length, Friends Enemies Apples Apples. Replacing tales of violence and drugs with uplifting songs that tackle the meaning of right and wrong, Friends is a fascinating examination of the human psyche. Medeiros ultimately determines that there is no real difference between our friends and enemies.
As one third of the former rap group, The Procussions, Medeiros has always been known for his ability to craft rhymes around anecdotes that speak to prevalent societal issues. He kicks off the new album with “Children,” which tells the story of kids born into a family without a real father figure. As with past Medeiros efforts, there is more to this track than appears on the surface. It serves as a greater metaphor for a misguided world that exists with no true direction.
Medeiros is joined by producer Stro the 89th Key and singer Tara Ellis, who appears on five tracks. Stro’s production balances delicate keys with a heavy dose of soul and banging drum sequences, while Tara Ellis’ angelic voice adds a soft touch to even the hardest of beats. However, despite the magnificence of Stro and Ellis, Medeiros proves that this is his album and unquestionably steals the show. His attention to detail and syllable structure are unmatched by many of his contemporaries. Every word arrives on beat as it should be, and not a bar is wasted.
Friends Enemies Apples Apples maintains terrific continuity throughout and takes advantage of something that many artists seem to overlook these days: brevity! Clocking in around 40 minutes, Medeiros leaves no room for filler, ensuring that each track delivers quality content. The standout tracks are plenty. The motivational “Last Stars” introduces the listener to Medeiros’ powerful side, while “Holding On” and “W.A.N.T.S.” both touch on fragile, human emotions.
Medeiros succeeds here because the album is incredibly honest. It is heartfelt and intelligent – warm at times but cold when it needs to be. It is assembled with the utmost care and quality control. Ultimately, Friends proves to be a rewarding album because it leaves the listener thinking about its messages hours after it has ended.