Leading with decidedly creative production and unwavering lyrical and performative grit, MoonChildJohnny’s latest EP, the aptly titled Anxiety, digs deep into human consciousness – the state of panic, uncertainty, isolation and, ultimately, optimism.
The vocals strike hard, but the music softens the blow in many ways, offering an electro-pop warmth that embraces listeners and creates a welcoming space; within which these ideas can flow freely, without judgement.
Ashlei Watson features on the opening and title track, contrasting the weight and intensity of MCJ’s rap with a mellow delicacy, which unites peacefully with the dreamlike, retro electronic nature of the soundscape.
Purpose follows and takes that now familiar sound even further. Everything from the voice to the production choices lean towards originality and character. Meanwhile, the storytelling lays bare a refreshing truth – the scenes laid out balance intimate honesty and powerful imagery to carry the weight of the song’s sentiments. And again, a gentle vocal hook helps mellow things out and create a soulful contrast and resolve from the angst and heartache of the rap.
Taking things in a slightly different direction is the song cherry blossoms. The track adopts a contemporary hip hop sound – doubled vocals, auto-tune, the meeting of melody and rap by means of a select few varying notes and vocal rhythms. The call-and-response delivery also tips its hat to the styles that made waves over the past couple of years. The latter half adds a little more personality, a spacious and somewhat minimalist aura emerges, and a couple of different vocal moments that help make things more memorable.
Circles feat. Demani brings the EP to close and is easily a stand-out track. Driving with a subtle build-up, from almost acoustic beginnings – a finger-picked riff loaded with optimism and brightness – up through a lightly uplifting beat, an energetic yet calmly confident rap, and perhaps the most powerful, smooth yet addictive vocal hook yet; the song hits with humble impact and finishes things on a definite high.
There’s a hint of Mac Miller to the final feature, a touch of Lil Peep to the use of melody and melancholy; in small doses. The track has a likable groove, yet there’s plenty of moment and change throughout – making sure to hold tight to your interest. An easy one to escape within, and a personal favourite. Melodically satisfying, hypnotic, emotive and truthful – everything this project hints about regarding the MoonChildJohnny sound and style. Well worth a listen if you’re looking for hip hop with a little something different about it.