Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
The Good, The Bad and the Great
Japhia Life is back! It’s been over two years since we’ve heard a full length project from the Philly bred MC. If you ask me, it’s been long overdue. Japhia is widely respected as one of the legends in CHH. That has come from a long career of putting out some of the best music to come out of the CHH supercity, Philadelphia. He hopes to add to his resume with his new project Westside Pharmacy.
Japhia is a trend setter. He has been driving in the lane that a lot of rappers in the genre are just now turning onto. The “rapper that’s a Christian” lane hasn’t always been so popular, but Japhia has done it for a long time and done it very well. He is a monster in the booth and a lyrical giant. If you missed his real raps or gritty lyricism, wait no more…because Lifey’s back!
East Coast MC’s usually have a distinct sound. Their production matches the gritty and rugged style that usually accompanies East Coast MC’s. If that’s what your expecting with Westside Pharmacy, then you won’t be disappointed. The production had an East Coast feel to it. It also matched Japhia’s tone and the overall feel of the album beautifully.
The production throughout Westside Pharmacy was good but it wasn’t consistent, and that’s what kept it from being great. There were some songs that just didn’t seem to fit the sound of the album. Tracks like “Pimp” and “The Exercise” had a completely different sound to them. They were out of place and just didn’t sound too good with the flow of the album. Diversity in sound is usually a good thing in a record, but only if the diversity fits with the overall sound of the record. These songs along with “Dime” and the skit “Reverend Tithes Call Part 1” didn’t fit the overall sound, and they ended up hindering the listening experience.
It wasn’t all bad though. “Coldblooded,” “I’m A Mess” and “Full Moon” were stand outs, and will have you hitting repeat immediately. “Lifey’s Revenge” is a stellar song. “Pitchfork” sounds a little different but is a quality track. Overall, there was a lot of solid production throughout Westside Pharmacy. The sound of the record was very strong and is the perfect canvas for Japhia’s smooth but tough flow. As Japhia begins to paint, the production will have your head bobbing.
With a title like Westside Pharamcy it’s hard to pinpoint a concept or direction of the album before listening to it. There isn’t much to take from the title or the artwork (no matter how stellar the album artwork is). Japhia also didn’t give much away as far as the tracklist or by interview. After listening to the album, it’s still hard to pick out a concept or overall direction of Westside Pharmacy.
Even with that being said, Japhia Life is still strong enough lyrically to carry an album without a concept. And every album doesn’t need a concept or direction. But for Westside Pharamcy, it needed a concept. I was searching for something to tie all of the songs together. There just didn’t seem to be a theme that I could grab a hold of. Without a concept to grab on to, Westside Pharmacy was hard to grab on to itself. It wasn’t very memorable.
The tracks by themselves were really good, but that’s all. They weren’t good enough to carry the album and there wasn’t many memorable moments throughout the record. The lack of a concept kept the listening experience as a whole from being great. There also was the lack of one great song that would bring you back to the album. All of these things together made Westside Pharamcy a little forgettable.
There was one way that Japhia shined in a big way, and that was lyrically. This album is phenomenal lyrically. If there were any doubts about Japhia’s talent behind the mic, this record should kill that. Japhia flowed over each track beautifully and unleashed all his ability on the listener. The playback value that Westside Pharmacy has, is all in Japhia’s lyrics.
Japhia showed all the skills of a true lyricist. He had metaphors, similes and double entendres. He weaved these tools together through songs effortlessly and consistently throughout the entire record. He’ll have you hitting the rewind button trying to put it all together. Japhia’s smooth captivating flow draws you into the song and he proceeds to blow your mind lyrically.
Another thing I found very impressive, was that Japhia didn’t have a lot of features on Westside Pharmacy. He really only has 4 features on an 18 track album. Two of those were on hooks (Teena Jones “Lifey’s Revenge” and David James “Full Moon“), one was a poet (REDZ “Hate“), and the only one that actually rapped was Rob Hodge on “Dime.” Japhia carried this entire album on his shoulders and lyrically ability. That is not an easy thing to do, and Japhia did it great. If you love real, honest, lyricism then Westside Pharmacy is a must have for your iPod.
Westside Pharamcy is a really good record. It’s not perfect, there are holes but few albums are perfect. Japhia Life is the selling point for this record. If you like him and his style, then you’ll love this record. If you are looking for a bunch of scriptures or “Lyrical Theology” then this probably isn’t the record for you. But if you are a fan of hip-hop as an art form, lyricism or just real raps, then this is the record for you. Japhia shows on Westside Pharmacy why he has lasted so long in CHH and why he’s considered a legend.
Westside Pharamacy is set to release Tuesday, November 20th.