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Yonas - Okayplayer

Yonas

by Okayplayer
8 years ago

There’s something really interesting about Yonas’ new album The Proven Theory. Aside from the usual hip-hop rubric of, good choice of production, poignant song concepts, and thoughtful, quipping lyricism, Yonas also somehow seems to come across as expansive in terms of who will like this album. Instead of nibbling off a categorized corner of the market, The Proven Theory has the potential to infiltrate the ears of several different kinds of people.

That doesn’t suggest that Yonas is the next John Lennon. But in the same breath, he also isn’t the next paper-thin, fifth member of the Black Eyed Peas either (though he does have some fist-pump tracks). What Yonas has managed to do is make music with depth and balance that could still be radio anthems, pop jams, head-nod heaters, or even club bangers. No easy feat for any emcee, and for those that try, very few can do it as seamlessly as this.

The first song, “I Could,” is the perfect example of how Yonas somehow can create a sonic stewpot. The track itself is definitely a new school mainstream beat that could have just as easily been for Lupe, Cudi, Kanye, and the like. The lyrics are super tight, with an intricate and disciplined rhyme scheme spelling out an age old proclamation that dreams do come true. The chorus is an anathematic sing along, chanting about the beautiful struggle, perfect for concerts packed with emotionally charged fans. The chorus also displays another recurring theme on this album, and that’s Yonas’ immense faith in God, which is quite an anomaly in hip-hop. Yet somehow it never comes across as preachy or pretentious, and instead just seems sincere and vulnerable, which works.

Another song that sticks out, only because it veers a bit, is “Stupid Brilliance.” The beat is pretty light, and bouncy. And the chorus, again, is pseudo-melodic. But this is his “regular rap song” where he verbally masturbates just to show that he can hold his own with the pen. And he does. Major.

The Proven Theory, isn’t the only album of its kind, but definitely one of few who can walk the line so well, balancing serious lyricism, pointed song topics, sincerity, radio potentiality, and gusto. Whatever you like, especially in terms of kinds of hip-hop, there is definitely something here for you. My only hope is that while chasing universal success, he doesn’t get complacent with the groove that he’s found and continues to take risks. I also hope that he can keep this hunger when people know his name and he’s no longer physically hungry anymore.

-Jason Reynolds


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