Jay Park’s “Fresh Air” Mixtape is a Poetic Injustice
The traditional purpose of a mixtape is to maintain an artist’s buzz and to keep his or her name circulating in the public. Mixtapes are cheaper and easier to make because they don’t require the polishing allotted to full-length albums. They don’t need to have big name producers or features. On the contrary, mixtapes usually act a a vehicle for unknown producers and artists to earn some popularity. A mixtape is an artist’s labor of love. It’s not bogged down by the heavy hand of an entertainment agency or subject to the commercial standards of an expectant fanbase. Artists can do virtually whatever they want on a mixtape.
Yeah you’s a skateboarder and I’m a rail/Better grind up on me better use your tail
Think that line was terrible? Then just listen to the rest of Jay Park‘s new mixtape, Fresh Air: Breathe It. There are tons of other corny lines packed into that album, written just for the sake of wooing girls with their guards down.
Jay Park’s Fresh Air is a testament to the artistic freedom that comes with releasing an independent project. And while I am a huge advocate of artistic freedom, Jay Park’s version of art almost makes me wish I could rewind time to when I hadn’t listened to the raunchy lyrics of his mixtape. Let’s look at some highlights of Fresh Air, specifically his lyrics. Be warned. This review is not for the faint of heart.
Be With Me 2Night
Yup and I’ll f*** your tatts off once in a lifetime girl you’ve earned the last spot/Hit that a** raw and I’ma make you gasp huhhhhhhh/Yeah you’re embedded in my head so get embedded in my bed/Young cat but I’m a veteran of sex/Gonna bust that in the middle center of your legs /F*** rap better get ready for what’s next
Wait. You’re going to do what to my what?
“Be With Me 2Night” sets the stage for Fresh Air‘s tone. It’s the first track in a string of sexually aggressive and overzealous songs that do much to highlight the fact that Jay Park’s got a lot of sex on the brain. But with lines like “Let’s say you’re my hobby ’cause I’ll do you with a passion,” maybe Jay should keep sex on his brain and off of innocent iPods everywhere.
However, the production on this track is awesome. Producer Cha Cha Malone, who works on three of the six songs on the mixtape, manages to offer up a track reminiscent of some of Canadian rapper Drake‘s early mixtape work. The laid-back track gives Jay Park the opportunity to show some of his vocal skills which have improved since his debut. It’s when he begins to rap that things fall apart. I mean because really, you’ll go “jungle” on me? Thanks, but I think I’ll take a raincheck.
Do What We Do
Let me come on over, I’m gonna put you on a sofa and do just like I told ya/And work that body right ooh shawty, I know that you’ve been naughty, So get up on my lap/And work it work it, twerk it oh twerk it/I wanna see you sweating girl
Did Jay Park just ask a girl to “twerk it” on a love song?
“Do What We Do” is the traditional R&B song that does the job of setting the mood right. You know, for the “knocking of the boots,” for the “making of the babies. ” You guys get it. One of those songs that an artist feels the need to sing “Oh yeah, baby, baby, oh yeah yeah,” a ton of times to get the point across. The song is overtly sexual and reminiscent of some of the explicit sexual content that one would hear from Trey Songz and Chris Brown. However, the song suffers from uninspired rhymes like “we can slip into the shower and make it last for hours” and other than the shocking sexual descriptions, is almost a throw away track.
I’m a d*** to you when I should be giving d*** to you…I was the s*** to you but now I aint even s*** to you
Despite the above line from the song, “Hopeless Love” is the best single on the mixtape. Produced by the only other beatmaker on the project, LODEF and featuring Cha Cha Malone with a standout performance on the vocals, the three team up together to tell a story of a relationship that’s gone sour. What makes this the best song is that there is actually thought and emotion behind it. Similar to Big Bang‘s “Bad Boy,” “Hopeless Love” is an explanation of one man’s inability to treat his girlfriend right. The difference in Jay Park’s version is that she’s incapable of being a good girlfriend as well.
For the first time on the album, Jay Park’s lyrics are actually the highlight of the song. He is able to balance being both hardcore and vulnerable without forsaking one for the other. “Hopeless Love” has what the rest of the album lacks, which is emotions listeners can relate to rather than an emphasis on sex.
This s*** be a gun, it bangs it bangs/Your hair in the front, it bangs it bangs/A gang on a slut, it bangs it bangs/This be William Hung cause it bangs it bangs
“William Hung” is a great song if you’re not listening to the lyrics. This is not said in jest–I really mean it. Producer LODEF offers a beat that, for lack of better words, bangs. Jay Park’s rhyme pattern over the thumping beat is smooth and aggressive at the same time and the confidence in his voice goes unchallenged.
“William Hung” is Jay Park’s way of saying that he’s a hardcore rapper. It’s what all rappers do. They boast about how much they don’t give a crap and how hard their rhymes are. Here, Jay does that well. But again, some of his lyrical selection is too ridiculous to take seriously. For example, he spits the line, “My flow hard, I gave it viagra.” Really Jay? Your flow is so hard because you gave it viagra? Lyrics like that take away from the effect he’s going for and make it hard for people to take him seriously.
Show you the wild side of things I’m the alpha male/Watch me go ape s*** then join me and go ape s***/We getting crazy no mixed drink muhf***a shots is all I’m taking!
“Body2Body” is another Cha Cha produced track and is appropriate for Jay because it’s a dance song. With banging bass, pulsing synths, and traces of dubstep, the song fits perfectly into the dance music trend. Apart from the terrible rap lyrics (which include the skateboard line referenced earlier), the song is fun and is the best candidate on the album to be a radio single or a club mainstay.
In the song, Jay encourages a girl he’s dancing with to move in closer to him. While the dancing is on his mind, so is the sexual chemistry that often comes with dancing with another person at a party or a club. “Body2Body” is an overall great track with solid commercial potential.
You Know How We Do
Your girl’s legs split like Kris and Kim Kardashian/Her wand is my d*** and she be doin magic tricks/On my man s*** because the mack is back again
With bland production, uninspired lyrics, and a slew of half thought-out imagery, “You Know How We Do” is by far the weakest track on the album. There’s no hook or chorus to speak of, which is fine except for the fact that the main verses aren’t strong enough to take the place of a good hook. And not all rap songs need a catchy chorus; Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli” is testament to the fact that slick metaphors and clever lines make up for a missing hook. Unfortunately, Jay does not have the lyrical skill to take up the task. He does have the confidence though, if that counts for anything.
The only thing that halfway saves this track is a feature by fellow artist Dumbfoundead, whose experience is embodied in his lyrical slickness. It’s clear he’s been in the rap game longer, and could perhaps teach Jay some things about polishing up lyrics. Apart from the appearance by Dumbfoundead, this song is the biggest throw away track on the record.
Jay Park definitely did the job of getting some of the Seoulbeats writers to debate on how appropriate/inappropriate the content of Fresh Air is in a flurry of internal emails. There’s no doubt that a lot of the content was flat out offensive. How many references to his penis and gang banging “sluts” does it take before listeners are morally driven to turn off their stereos? I have to point out though, that Jay Park’s mixtape (or as I like to call it, his sex-tape) is embarking on hip-hop territories. And hip-hop is a genre that is, commercially, marked by misogyny and violent language. Since Jay’s “hip-hop experience” is probably centered more around sex than it is around drugs and guns, he plays up the sex angle.
As one of the writers on the Seoulbeats team asserted, just because other rappers are blatantly misogynistic–doesn’t mean that Jay has a pass to behave that way as well. And it’s more jarring because Jay is also a K-pop artist. Personally, the hyper-sexual lyrics didn’t bother me as much as some of the sloppy execution. Writing a rap isn’t just about stringing together controversial lyrics; it’s also about weaving together thoughtful metaphors and witty lines.
As a whole, Jay Park shines when he’s actually singing. When he raps, it all crumbles. Not because of his flow. In fact, Jay Park understands how to ride a beat better than most of his counterparts in K-pop. But it’s his lyrics that need better thought and finesse. He doesn’t have to do the Jekyll and Hyde act of being sweet when he sings and a jackass when he raps. Fresh Air soars with amazing production, skilled rhyming patterns, and confident swagger, and once Jay Park learns to finesse his lyrics he will be able to have a solid mixtape in the future.
Did anyone else listen to the mixtape? What’s your take on the album’s explicit content?