I’m all about questioning the status quo, as anyone familiar with my writing can attest to. And so it comes as no surprise that I was intrigued by the idea of a group of young men throwing off the paralysing mantle they were being told to wear for another one that suited them better. This was all the more interesting a premise for a group or artists like the one brought together by Milwaukee’s Jon Briggz (which he named We R The Lost) as it sometimes feels like the genre, which was born out of a place where the state of affairs was always questioned, has become for the most part an unhealthy status quo in itself.
Released last April, Still Lost is the brainchild of Jon Briggz who got help from the likes of Bili Ro$e, Damir Balo, and Sir Castro. Briggz wanted to express the way he and those around him lived, rebutting the criticism levied at him and his friends for their easy going attitude, their perceived lack of drive, and their seeming indifference to academics, politics, and religion. While others negatively labeled them as lost, Briggz decided to embrace and embody the concept.
The jazz-laden, up-tempo instrumental introduction, “I’m Spotted” makes the most of the limited time it has available to make quite the impression. “New Black” might sound like many of the songs already available in the genre, what with its rhythmic, head bobbing beat and synthesizer melody, but the lyrics are well worth the listen. Directly challenging the perception that they and their friends are “lost”, the track claims that “I ain’t sayin’ I’m looking for a handout/Imma get this money on my own/They sayin’ I ain’t even got a chance though/So someone tell me what I’m doing wrong.”
Its successor is a lot more layered in depth although, at 25 seconds, it is the shortest contribution to the album; the poem “Gold” speaks of a relationship with seemingly a lot of potential that ended up being a worthwhile as fool’s gold. The most radio-friendly track is the pop-laden “Say the Word”, which features a very chill, relaxed beat and rhymes with a smoothly-sung chorus that brings it together. The brooding and almost foreboding “Still Got Love” sounds again quite familiar but this time both in melody as well as in lyrics. One can’t help but wonder how is the current of affairs being questioned?
While well-constructed and delivered, “X”, featuring Charlie Brigante, had too much anger (and, consequently, too much strong language) for me to be able to appreciate it. It’s a little disappointing that an album meant to question the status quo falls into the stereotypes it’s trying to challenge. Racial tensions are at the heart of “The Times”, which begins with a small snippet of a speech from Dr. Martin Luther King and leads into a heavy, throbbing, mid-tempo beat and reaches all the way into present-day challenges of police brutality. “Influence” also seems to be a contradiction between what the album is meant to be and what it actually is. It’s about being under the influence of some sort of relaxing drug that translates into a slow, electronic backed melody with a smooth R&B chorus. It also brings out some of the sadder, more melancholic side of the group, who admits that perhaps indeed they are a little lost after all.
While I appreciate what the group is trying to do, there might be a serious need for introspection. Because while they are trying to prove that they are not lost, it does seem at times that they have not quite found themselves after all. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information about the group is available on their official website and on their Facebook page
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.