Artist: Mike Jones
Album: Runnin’ Tha Game Mix CD
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Any half-interested rap fan worth their salt knows the significance of the above five words. Mike Jones is nothing short of a mixtape phenomenon – a well-recognised Hiphop namebrand without the release of an actual album, Jones has ground out an identity for himself through little more than a series of well received freestyles over other artists’ beats. Backed by the mightily independent Swishahouse camp (who took the classic DJ Screw blueprint and pushed it in their own direction) Jones’ star continues to rise from mixtape to mixtape as he builds towards his “Who Is Mike Jones?” debut album proper.
Lets get the warnings out the way first : if you don’t know who DJ Screw is, then you might want to move on. If you aren’t into ‘screwed’ music at all, then you definitely want to move on. If you’re looking for the next Rakim or Chuck D, then you ain’t gonna find it here either – maybe you might wanna skip my man too. However if your idea of Hiphop enjoyment in this highly commercial era of the music we all love, is to hear an emcee flow for days, often off the top of the dome, and all the while dropping lyrics and lines that’ll leave you cracking smiles, then Mike Jones may well be your particular cup of tea.
Here’s the M.O. – Swishahouse stalwart Paul Wall drops a shedload of beats, usually at a ‘screwed’ tempo, and Jones throws his words over them. That’s it, really – there’s barely anything more to it than that. The main selling point (and one that the Swishahouse camp seem to be mining with incredible success) is that yes, these are beats that you’ve heard Jigga, Snoop, Da Band, R Kelly, Busta, DMX etc all use as their own singles, but here, with Wall tweaking the tempo in a downwards direction, and Jones spreading his lazy Texas drawl over the top, it sounds like a nearly new project. Sure you’ve heard the beats before, but you won’t have heard anyone flowing over them like this.
And that’s the other thing worth pointing out. Personally I think Mike Jones is the next Ludacris – a cat who you know has gang of lyrics, and who’ll deliver them with a full tongue in cheek the whole time. Others will immediately find him irritating due to his constant self name-checking, and repeated advertising of his upcoming projects. I see this as a legit form of hustling, others will get annoyed at it… what can I tell you – you’re all idiots anyway. No matter how you view him, its hard not to grin when you hear him declare that his “dick hang long like Elvis’ sideburns”, or that his “dingdong is the size of a blimp”.
Don’t get it twisted though – its not all schoolboy humor. Jones definitely possesses some legitimate skills that place him well up there with some of the current heavy hitters in the South – over fast beats, slow beats, or sloooooooooooow beats, he always seems to ride the instrumental well, and the actual choice of beats involved ensure that the listener is hooked into checking him out – cuts like ‘Stunt 101’, ‘Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’ and ’24’s’ all get t Swishahouse / Mike Jones treatment with positive results.
Other high points come when Jones does perform his own material. A short preview of the classic ‘Sugar-Plum Fairy’-sampling ‘Sowed Up’ at the very start of the mix cd is followed later by the classic ‘Dick Don’t Fail Me Down’ where Jones pleads with his um : Jones not to let him down in the carnal arts, as his lady waits for him to bust a move.
Overall this is a tremendous advert for an up and coming emcee, which is only improved by the inclusion of a free DVD, which takes the viewer further into the world of Mike Jones, as he tours nightclubs, schools and studios, dropping new material and pushing older stuff. This cat is a legend waiting to happen – remember who told you.