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Jhantu Randall reviews "Arrogant" album by Deondre Jones

When it comes to hip hop, region always tends to play a big part in how its received. The South has its style, East and West too, each distinctly different yet still apart of a larger thing. We as listeners use this as a guideline as we listen to rappers expecting a particular identity depending on where they claim to reside from. The question is, what do you do when an artist blends multiple regions giving a sound that can’t be identified initially? Well in the case of Deondre Jones’ project, Arrogant, you keep listening.

From the first track the production stands out sounding like the bay area, certain beats lead me to drawing comparisons to what I liked about Smash Rockwell years ago. Not comparing the two as Dre adds his own twist to what makes that sound already stand out. It took a few listens but the rhymes actually stuck with me more than I thought. Driving for the last few days, his track “Winning” became my anthem, however the following track “The Oath” felt like it should’ve been the opener as I became intrigued with what would follow more than I did with “Winning.”

It took me a lot of repeats to get used to the delivery, while I felt the flow at times the bars seemed to run on a bit, as a writer myself I don’t look at that as a criticism. I’ve done that exact same thing with verses and bars that Ive written before, in truth I enjoy that because it shows me a glimpse of the artists thought process. Naming the project Arrogant is a risk as it sets the bar high to begin with and leads people to listen closer to see if the rhymes justify the moniker. With that in mind you’d think
the title track would back that up but to me songs like “Savage” “For Me” and “These Voices” that lived up to it. “Deeper” and “Nothing” were 2 tracks I kept going back to as I feel these beats allowed for the true test of opening up and connecting to the listener.

This may have a niche lane in which it could propel in, but its projects like this that can leave an unexpected impact. It was the unorthodox story telling that kept me returning to this and enjoying it more and more as I began to pick up on certain lines that I didn’t catch at first. From listening to this out of pure curiosity, I will say the energy is there and the bars show an artist who’s hunger is evident, but its the ability to keep it upbeat in tempo that helps it resonate. Also in an age of 7 track eps, having a full 15 tracks is a welcomed return to normalcy when it comes to rap albums. The passion behind completing the project does lead me towards wanting to know more about the man who created it. Until that day comes, I’ll just roll down my windows and drive with “Winning” blaring from my speakers.

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