J.R. Writer: Politics & Bullshit

[7 September 2008]

By Jordan Sargent

If Dipset is dead, someone forgot to tell J.R. Writer. On his new mixtape/album, Politics & Bullshit, the perennial Diplomat bench-rider spits like he’s on a mission to carry the Dips’ pink fur mantle unscathed through the Jim Jones/Cam’ron flamewar, and that wild-eyed intensity remains his most redeemable quality.

As a rapper, Writer’s a standard-grade New York punchline dude, though his actual jokes hit at a rate way lower than he’d actually believe. He lacks the unforced confidence of a Fabolous or the unchecked ridiculousness of fellow Dip Juelz Santana, and he compensates for unpolished verses by rapping extra forceful, which is invigorating in spurts but frustratingly lazy when he’s trying to hold you down for something like 40 minutes.

I won’t begrudge him too much on that front, though, because Politics & Bullshit is clearly more mixtape than anything, and plus, with the rate at which Writer’s been leaking songs, lazy is an unapt, if not insulting, term.

That said, and not to knock his grind, Writer would do well to learn to self-edit, as difficult at times though it may be. I imagine Writer, or any other rapper, really, would view a call to improve his quality control, especially when it comes to functionally free mixtapes, as self-detrimental. And in a post-Wayne world, I wouldn’t argue. But imploring Writer to become more of a, forgive me, writer, is something that could only improve his music in the long run.

His raps on Politics & Bullshit are obvious freestyles, which leads to things like repeated punchlines and tired metaphors (call it Wayne Syndrome), and at times his verses suggest that Writer is two things that he actually isn’t: lazy and unimaginative.

If it wasn’t for the occasional good patch or great line (which is ultimately what this stuff boils down to) amongst both Politics & Bullshit and his work in general, Writer would be another New York rapper seemingly stuck on a lifestyle of rap that is becoming increasingly irrelevant and secluded.  As it is, he’s trickling out enough halfway good material to warrant clicks on Zshare links sight unseen.

That leaves Politics & Bullshit, a puzzlingly half-assed “release”, in a weird spot. For one, it’s a mixtape, but its freestyled verses are all over original productions, most of which are decently inspired as far as boilerplate wailing soul-sampling beats go, except for the Purple Haze-biting “Uptown Girl”. Writer himself raps passionately enough that he just might convince you, though he’s certainly no better or worse than he’s been since he became good enough to get noticed.

The tape isn’t worth your money. Your time? Maybe, especially if you fetishize the type of rap that Writer is trying so hard to keep afloat.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/jr-writer-politics-bullshit/