Independent (November 2, 2010)
Review by LaRosa
As you grow up, it’s inevitable that your tastes are going to change, musical tastes included. After a while you can only take so much of what you used to enjoy and you begin to long for something more. As many of hip-hop’s listeners advance in years, it’s nice to see artists that are doing the same by allowing their music and content to change as they mature. One such artist is JustMe of the Scribbling Idiots crew. His latest offering Tragedy & Dope, featuring production from Deacon the Villain, is one such album that exhibits a sound that is meant for the more mature listener.
The age old adage says that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or its title), but this is one of those rare cases where it’s safe to do so. The title Tragedy & Dope is chock full of meaning and the cover art does an excellent job of raising the level of intrigue. The content that JustMe delivers on this album is definitely on a mature level that deals with the ups & downs of life. As he states in the opening track, “God made good & evil, tragedy & dope// God made both, tragedy & dope.” That line really sums up the level of content to be had on this album; JustMe takes the listener through an emotion laden musical journey.
There is a lot to like about Tragedy & Dope. For starters, Deacon the Villain does a brilliant job handling the production on this album. The dark yet soulful instrumentals play perfectly to the candor that JustMe delivers in his rhymes. With his stern yet laidback delivery, JustMe waxes poetic on this album and gives the listener a glimpse into the mind of a grown man who loves music, life, and God. It’s difficult to highlight any tracks in particular because they all bring something different to the project. That being said, two of the hardest hitting songs on Tragedy & Dope would have to be “I Know” and “Sexual Confessional.” First, “I Know” is just a heartfelt song that really looks at the heart of this album’s title and the struggles & sorrows that come as a result of living this life. With “Sexual Confessional” you get a glimpse into the life of a married man who is trying to balance work and marriage. I was surprised to hear this track, but was one that was of particular interest because of its mature subject matter & reality. Also, not to be forgotten is “The Prodigal,” which takes the listener on a vivid journey through JustMe’s past.
For as much as there is to like about Tragedy & Dope, there is one thing that stands out about this album as a low point: the running time. Even though this album contains a total of ten exquisite tracks, the album comes in at just 30 minutes. This isn’t a bad thing, except for the fact that this album is so good that it leaves you wanting more, which forces you to simply put the album on repeat, like I found myself doing a few times. Aside from that one minor issue, this album gets no complaints. But, when you think about it, an album that leaves you wanting for more is a quality release.
Taken as a whole, this is one of the most complete projects I’ve heard in recent memory. There is no filler and straight edge content that gets right to the point. JustMe and Deacon the Villain put together a masterpiece with Tragedy & Dope, that’s for sure. If you’re a fan of JustMe or Scribbling Idiots, then this album should be a must have for your collection, especially for those that like grown man hip-hop.
For fans of: Scribbling Idiots, Cas Metah, Theory Hazit