When I first heard James Lewis music on Tumblr, my pedestrian ear could not help but compare him to the genre’s more celebrated “emo-rap” raconteurs from Canada i.e. Drake and the Weeknd or the emotional rawness of Childish Gambino, but upon further listening, he brings to the table, something even more evolutionary to the culture, something we have not seen since the early 90s, a concept album that captivates the listeners ears with crisp beats while opening your mind with his complex lyrical schemes, evocative of Kool Moe Dee( I know I am dating myself a bit, LOL!)It just so happens that the album tells a story is about the rapper’s love for hip hop told through what is an often tumultuous and rewarding relationship with a woman.
In his debut “free” LP, he highlights all the emotions involved with “falling in love”. He starts off the LP with “Glimpse of Heaven”, where he professes his love for “Hip Hop”, while she begs him to let H.E.R. go. He then gets lost in the midst of bliss on “Fallen Ashes”, the point where feelings get blurred between lust and love. His feelings are then affirmed in “L.O.T.H. (Faded), where he becomes intimate with H.E.R, ultimately falling in love with her. He then realizes just how shallow she really is on “Burning Bridges”, as in most relationships, where you start finding faults in each other. Then the fighting starts, which is where “Screaming Misery” brings you to, ultimately leading to the crossroads on the final two tracks, “Are you with me?”/”The Revolution”, where he ultimately asks whether or not Hip Hop is all about the fame and money or is it about the art?
This type of introspective storytelling is what Rap is sorely missing right now. In today’s world, where Hip Hop has been in an unending identity crisis, shifting its’ taste from its’ most early days where the emphasis was on the importance of lyricism to what most rap is about now, just how hot the beat is. It is quite refreshing to hear this gifted MC from Atlanta by way of Grand Rapids, MI, showing and proving that ingenuity still exists in Hip Hop. He reminds us “old school heads” that lyrics and beats can still be in collusion to create something enjoyable and powerful.