John Keenan – Imagination To The Nation – Album Review
Ok! John said himself in a message to me that he’d “rather be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie” – so let’s get to the slappin’ shall we? No one really wants to kiss this overgrown beard-garden I call a face anyway. Seriously – I have no idea HOW my wife puts up with it… I also believe I still qualify as a lover and not a fighter despite being confused occasionally for a homeless person and/or the missing-link; at least I can say I’ve never actually slapped anyone…yet!
And as much as I appreciate John’s sentiment and the courage it would take for him to stick his musical face out there so ready to be slapped, but alas, I will not be doing any slapping today. I was so looking forward to it. 🙁
The fact is that John Keenan has a sick amount of lyrical skill and can combine words together in a verse like he himself had written Thesaurus. I appreciate one thing above all others in a rapper or hip-hop artist – hell, any front-person or singer at all really – and that’s the metering. Time after time you can hear an artist try to fit in that extra un-natural syllable, throwing them into a lyrical train-wreck or performance tailspin. Independent rap, as these young emcees begin to learn and hone the craft, can be laden with these. John Keenan does not have this issue – he’s on point all day while you push play.
Not only does he stay correct and on top of the rhythm of his rhymes – John’s a man on a mission; the rhymes themselves pack a powerful punch from the life-lessons he has picked up along the way by stumbling towards his musical career, not so much hurtling… He’s been through the battles, the drugs and the alcohol and come out on the other side still intact. You can’t possibly listen to his music and suggest he even has a single marble missing out of his mental collection; the attention to detail in these tracks, especially in the lyrical department, is so carefully looked after – refined and recorded like it was meant to be there all along existing in your collection at home.
Researching the album a bit through his bio on his main page (John Keenan Online) – it is amazing to read that this album, Imagination To The Nation, was recorded in just over a month’s worth of time. That only confirms what I’m hearing and proves that there’s not only talent on the microphone – but that there’s a whole bunch of hidden talent as well behind the words through programs, beats and production.
It seems as if our friend John here is quite ready to take on the world. Looking after nearly all-aspects of this album – he should be extremely proud of what has been recorded on his upcoming album (Imagination To The Nation drops August 20th 2013) – the quality is excellent and the tracks all have at least one hook if not more that people will grab on to. But all “hooks” and well-written beats aside – it’s the confidence of John Keenan that will have you reaching to repeat the album.
Listen to a track like his single “A King Has No Friend” and dare to tell me I’m wrong. If the beginning doesn’t sell you immediately on his skill, FINE – jump to 2:40 into the song and witness some SUPREME lyrical talent; now….now you’re on my side – and it only took two minutes and forty seconds! Sometimes I try to imagine how full the ocean would be if a song was to represent a milliliter of water – there are so many songs out there at this point I’m thinking it could rival the current size. To think that there’s people out there not actively seeking something new to listen to when there’s artists like John K here just below the surface…it blows my mind. Two minutes and forty seconds on this side of the speakers and he had himself a new fan.
But whether it’s the up-tempo feel-goodness of a track like “Do For Love” or the despair and emotion on a track like “Hope In Their Eyes,” Keenan delivers crisply on each and every verse and has comprised an album full of beats worthy of your ear-time. I’m jumping all over his album timeline here, but the mid-album track “Saw Her Face” gets stuck in my head for days at a time and has continued to since I started listening…
HOWEVER! He wanted a slap if there was one to be had…and I feel my pimp-hand tingling…
It’s still not even a slap really – both of these comparisons I found musically that came to my mind have skill…so…I say this hoping he didn’t give me permission to slap it out just so I’d hit’em first… My first impression, vocally…was actually a band called Len – the one-hit-wonder band of “Steal My Sunshine” fame. The second impression was actually Lonely Island, the notorious joke-rap act of Saturday Night Live’s poster-child for A.D.D., Andy Samberg. Before you start slappin back John – know it’s all LOVE brother – I spin the Lonely Island here probably waaaaaaay too much for anyone’s good…
If John Keenan can stay the course – continue to put together quality tracks like “Garbage Can” and “Forgot My Medicine” without having to LIVE (Or nearly die for) the subject-matter, or single-worthy tracks like “Make It Home Tonight,” then he’s going to be just fine. I’ve always been a firm believer that true talent shines through – it simply can’t be ignored forever. Stars like John shine bright amongst the rest, burning with passion for the craft and determination to reach that next level – this isn’t a game for him; this is his LIFE.
And that care he has taken is audible on every track. This isn’t WORK or a JOB to him – he’s loving what he’s doing regardless of the subject matter. He might need to consider taking on something part time just to fill his calendar though – it seems like a month of recording is all he really needs.
Check him out further at these sites below – no joke – he’s got a lot to say!
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