[23 April 2007]
Word of Mouth , the fifth studio project from Columbus, Ohio’s John Reuben, finds the rapper continuing on a path toward sonic maturity. Reuben has always been an intelligent and insightful MC, but the best work of his previous efforts was often overshadowed by a tendency to allow his sense of humor to become focal, at times inspiring laughs, at others simply sounding laughable. Proving he can entertain without always having to play the fool, Reuben capably addresses complexities in topics that reference social-, spiritual-, and self-examining. Word of Mouth is an ambitious and eclectic effort, positioning Reuben’s relaxed yet focused delivery in a number of different musical environments. Reuben’s sonic palette is broad enough to incorporate everything from the smooth and soulful (“Miserable Exaggeration”) to a back porch, backwoods vibe (“Make Money Money”) and a few more rock-oriented tracks (“Sing It Like You Mean It”, “Trying Too Hard”) without the diversity of sounds ever becoming a distraction, a credit to the vision he shares with producer Joe Baldridge. While Reuben’s style may still not appeal to the hardest of hardcore hip-hop fans, Word of Mouth reminds us that Reuben has much to say, and reveals definite growth in his ability to say it.