Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Mr. J. Medeiros - Saudade
It was morning. There was nothing spectacular about the day ahead, or the day that had passed for that matter. One day bled into the next in an endless succession of sameness. This sameness I speak of was anchored by feelings of longing. Longing and yearning for something I had enjoyed in the past, but which I knew could not be enjoyed in the same manner again. I tried explaining my emotional state to an acquaintance. He listened to my description, sighed knowingly, looked off into the distance and spoke one word. Saudade. Not knowing the word I pressed my friend for a definition. He grinned and told me to look it up as he waved his hand and walked away.
Saudade (singular) or saudades (plural) is a Portuguese word that can be translated as "longing, yearning", which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.
Thanks Wikipedia! I now understood the uncanny accuracy of my friend’s word choice. Mental note; I need to force him into the field of psychology. Armed with this new knowledge, I decided to dig deep and really investigate into what led me to my current state. This is what I came up with.
Several years ago I was introduced to a hip hop group by the name of The Procussions. Although I had never heard of them before, a reliable website made several positive comments alongside several flattering articles and one enthusiastic review concerning their new album, 5 Sparrows For 2 Cents. Due to the persuasive and trustworthy nature of the website I decided to buy the album. While this album did not completely blow me out of the water, it was incredibly solid and highly enjoyable. The main reason I make mention of 5 Sparrows For 2 Cents however is that this was my introduction to Mr. J. Medeiros, one of the three emcees who made up The Procussions.
To be completely honest, while I did find each of these releases to be fantastic listening experiences (that I highly recommend) I was unable to enjoy them as much as Of Gods And Girls. People change. Listeners change. I knew this, yet I did not understand why I could not replicate my previous levels of appreciation. Time passed and I grew more and more introspective. One might say that I was living in a funk. When my friend put an actual label on what I was experiencing, it was a huge relief! I don’t know why but naming my condition allowed me to divorce myself from it and move on. The longing was still there of course, but I was able to put it into perspective. Thus, when Mr. J. announced a new album I approached it with a fresh new mindset. When I learned the new album’s title would be Saudade, I chalked it up as a strange coincidence.
Alright, story time is over. What we have here waveriders…is one heck of an album! Seriously. Awesome, righteous, fantastic, superb. These are all words that constantly pop into my mind whenever I am listening to Saudade. On this album Mr. J. Medeiros compiles everything that he has ever done musically, allows that ball of ideas to implode on itself, and rides the wave of new ideas created in the ensuing explosion to exciting new destinations. Trust me waveriders, you want to hear what these new destinations have to offer. I am certain of that.
So what makes Saudade such an interesting album? I’m glad you asked. First of all I love the fact that this album is a complete work. What do I mean? Simple. Although there are several fantastic songs that can easily stand alone as singles, this album works best taken as a whole (at least to my ears anyway). I derive the most enjoyment from Saudade by letting go of the reins and letting the album take me where it will. Can you say roller coaster ride? Yes you can. These songs run the gamut of human emotion. There is happiness, sadness, anger, joy, bitterness, tenderness…it’s all here.
Musically speaking there is great variance as well. Album opener “Fear And Safety” is dainty and beautiful, gradually building to a satisfying sonic apex before fading away. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum “Stand Down” is a ridiculously aggressive battle rap laid on top of some grimy metal guitar riffs and screamo choruses. “Serious” weaves a tale of relationship indecision while bouncing along on top of insistent piano chords and a funky drum pattern. Truthfully, I can’t find an easy comparison for “Nothing Without Providence”. At times it sounds pretty spooky with echo heavy drum beats. In the end however, it evolves into this gorgeous symphonic bit that soothes away the song’s earlier aggression. “Neon Signs”…you know what, I’m going to stop right there. Why ruin the surprises this album has in store?
Okay so we’ve discussed the music, but what about the most important element of a hip hop release; the lyrical content? Is it any good? Waveriders, I’m borderline offended! Would I steer you towards a hip hop artist with uninteresting, stereotypical, and/or offensive lyrical content? Short answer: no. Long answer: there is a good reason Mr. J. Medeiros is one of my favorite emcees. Besides his excellent and varied lyrical flow, Mr. J. uniquely addresses both everyday situations and societal ills in a manner I have not heard duplicated by any other artist. Here is a sample of what I’m talking about. This is the second verse from the song “So”.
And so she added a little glow to her cheeks / It never really mattered to her dad / He was just a shadow that speaks / In an effort to abort an affair / That occasionally creeks in the floorboards / And fixes leaks / All but the one in her mind / All but the one that she hides / She paints sex on her eyes / The way she sees it advertised / And she talks away an ego about half her size / And now the guys yell break / They all draw swords / They all separate into rebels without cause / So * makes a call to this girl who is dressed as a women / Though she stalls her address is an omen / And as open as her ears were / She found a boy that could hear her / Who thought of every ploy to get near her / But never adhere her / He sheered her slowly / Steered her from a girl till the woman appeared lowly / Only she’s not known / She’s not full grown / Her body her mind / Her father not home / In the oddest of times she finds she’s alone / Offering thy mind thy body / Thy bone.
I’d offer you waveriders a tongue-twisting sample from “Stand Down”, but I’m afraid I’ve gone on too long as it is. The bottom line here folks is that you need to expose yourself to Mr. J. Medeiros and his fantastic album Saudade. If you value high quality music and tremendous lyricism you can not go wrong. Still unsure? Head over to www.mrjmedeiros.bandcamp.com and listen to the whole album. I assure you. Your purchase immediately thereafter will come as no surprise.