Artist: Josh Martinez
Album: Midriff Music
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Back on the block with the hot joint dedicated to “summer tummies, BBQs and gettin’ bizzy” comes the gulliest rhymer this side of Halifax. Or something. Josh is back, and as Paul-Barman-like as ever, with his own version of nerd-rap actually threatening to reach the ears of those who like their Hiphop a little (dare I say it) ‘blacker’.
Fresh from the release of last year’s ‘critically-acclaimed’ (read: white rock mags liked it) “Buck Up Princess”, Martinez promises “summer music for the winter blues”, “background tunes for dry humping” and “skater rap for rollerbladers.” I think many of you will have stopped reading round about… HERE.
For those who wish to continue not just with reading this review, but with checking out “Midriff Music” you’ll find a Josh Martinez who has progressed his style bucketloads from the cut-n-paste / hit-n-hope ramblings on “Made In China”, the last of his offerings reviewed here. In their place we have a fairly cohesive collection of tracks which admittedly still won’t appeal to many, but which may serve a purpose if you wish to wander off the beaten track.
Opening with the sprightly and imaginatively-named ‘Intro’, labelmate Samix loops guitars and pianos and Big Daddy Kane cuts over a rapid live drumbeat, providing Josh with platform to drop his trademark whimsical rhymes. “This is an intro to my album, read the info on the artwork, and it’ll tell you how to reach me, there’ll be a barcode and a logo.” Yes it makes absolutely no sense, but perhaps that’s part of the appeal.
And its on from there. One by one, each track provides frustrating evidence of why Josh Martinez will always struggle to get his props – on one hand, he’ll likely always carry that ‘white indie rapper from Canada who sounds like Paul Barman’ tag around with him, and this alone will have people avoiding him in droves. On the other, if these same people checked him out, they’d find an album full thick production from Samix, and some of the most on-point lyrics that Martinez has ever written. Its a catch-22, and one that it seems Martinez himself is actually happy with – you don’t see him changing up his style for anyone or anything, instead remaining true to his little fanbase.
So while Samix flexes on the boards for ‘Cheers’ and ‘Regular Day’, Josh attacks them with all the power of a wet lettuce, albeit a very likeable one. Many will liken his actual delivery to the frontmen in those annoying indie-rock bands who have decided that rhyming badly over riffs is the way to get extra cash, and its true, at times he does sound a little stiff and ‘forced’, but extended listening will show that his heart is, at least, in the right place. Over the morose flute loop on ‘Cheers’ his Bryan-Adams-on-crack crooning style sounds strangely perfect, while the sunny vibes of Samix’ production on ‘Regular Day’ support Josh’s carefree attitude perfectly.
Elsewhere, the stunning instrumental cuts ‘Tranzar’, ‘Time Alone’, and ‘One More Sucka’ allow Samix to get some proper (and well-deserved) recognition while tracks like ‘Just Like A Dood’ which carries that same tears-of-a-clown vibe that the Biz exhibited so perfectly on ‘Just A Friend’, and ‘Tour Is War’, with its reggae-tinged backdrop, similarly impress. In fact, the only really negative is the remix of ‘Nightmare’ which stands out blatantly as the one cut which Samix has not touched at all.
A short album with several instrumental tracks, and I’m still recommending you check it. Why? Well for one, its a refreshing change from the tiresome antics of NY thugrap which is clogging up the industry and mixtapes like a bad smell. For two, Samix needs his props (as does Josh) for an enjoyable 45 minutes (no homo.) Seriously folks, take time to sit down with Mr Martinez – you might be pleasantly surprised.