How do you teach an oblivious person about the true essence of New York in under an hour and a half? Easy! All you need to do is supply this person with some high quality headphones and let them listen to J. Period’s new mixtape, #RAGEISBACK, from front to back. The legendary Brooklyn DJ/Producer, J. Period, delivers a mixtape filled to the brim with banging original freestyles, masterful remixes of classics and thought-provoking narratives. The mixtape is very unique as it serves as a soundtrack to a novel of the same name, written by award-winning author Adam Mansbach.
J. Period has released just under 40 mixtapes since the new millennium and has worked with some of the industry’s best. From Q-Tip, The Roots, Nas and Big Daddy Kane to John Legend, Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill, J. Period has definitely gotten around the rap industry. His deep connections in the rap world really show through on the #RAGEISBACK mixtape with features from Black Thought, Common, Shad, Homeboy Sandman, Blu, Talib Kweli and more. Black Thought’s “Rage Is Back” sets the tone of the mixtape as he goes beast mode on the “New York State of Mind” instrumental, which is no easy task. Legendary MCs Common and Talib Kweli also provide full-length tracks that would appease even the pickiest hip hop fans. Having so many talented rappers on a tracklist always brings out the competitive nature in each of them; this is also evident for up-and-coming rappers Shad and Homeboy Sandman.
J. Period shows his veteran savvy, masterful beat-making and production skills by remixing some of the most legendary tracks in hip hop. He daringly takes on Nas’ “One Love”, A Tribe Called Quest’s “1Nce Again”, Mobb Deep’s “Survival of the Fittest” and much more. J. Period successfully remixing rap’s best tracks from the past couple decades is a really good representation of one the mixtape’s most shining attributes: the beats. The instrumentals featured on this mixtape are hard hitting yet smooth at the same time. They are sure to appease hip hop fans of all kinds as each one has a unique and infectious groove.
As an added bonus, the tape also features insightful interludes from Q-Tip and GZA. One of the most interesting ones, by Danny Hoch, describes how the DJ’s interactive nature with the crowd has changed over time. He describes how, back in the day, Afrika Bambaataa would demand attention and respect from his crowd and if he played a song they were not exactly feeling, he would keep replaying it until they did. In contrast, Hoch then talks about how DJs are now seen as servants to the crowd and must make sure they play songs they know the crowd will enjoy.
It almost seems as if the #RAGEISBACK mixtape has too many cool features to mention in a short review. I would strongly encourage anyone to download it and give it a listen when you have some time to spare, especially if you are a fan of the East Coast boom-bap style of rap. All I know is if this mixtape is any indicator to how good the book is, I am going to have my ass on Amazon and get myself a copy.