Review Date: 2/21/14
Review By: Christopher Johnson
Release Date: 02/25/14
Rating: [usr 8]
With his first album for Reflection Music Group, Deraj‘s Mirrors & Medicine is an effort most artists would be proud to have as their second or third release. Deraj, who currently resides in Orlando, Fl, defines his music by stating “I create things you can see and hear.” The listener will understand what that means within a few seconds of listening to the album.
Deraj is a perfect representation of knowing what you want, and working hard to achieve it. While, as stated, he was just recently signed by RMG, he is actually no stranger to them having lent both his vocal and artistic talents as a freelancer to projects that his new label mates had going over the past several years prior to receiving his own opportunity to be a vested member of the team.
Mirrors and Medicine almost feels more like a soundtrack, or compilation album, as each track has its unique style. Those that are not married to a particular style of music will love being treated to something completely different with each song.
Jumping things off with “Egypt,” Deraj leaves the listener in anticipation for 1:30 with a haunting chorus that will invoke vivid visuals of one living in fear of an abusive relationship with seemingly nowhere to go. Deraj sneaks in and teases his thoughts about such a situation and then ducks right back out leaving the listener to resume the imagery assisted with only the instrumental.
“No Fear” gets going with Deraj reminiscing about doing all the things his parents told him not to do because he was not afraid. He then takes off with about as opposite a level of energy as possible from the previous track. “No Fear” is a high octane dose of encouragement to go through life full speed ahead with the confidence of the Almighty watching one’s every step.
Deraj, accompanied by Je’kob next introduces “Solitaire” which is a cautionary tale of trying to go through life without the guidance of the Savior. The tempo and energy is ratcheted a bit on the the third track, but the subject matter, is matched up perfectly with another example of meticulous attention to ensuring every aspect of the song gels perfectly.
“What you Say” has label mate Canon returning Deraj’s favor for appearing on his high powered track “Out of Tune.” Staying true to the formula of adopting a completely different feel to each track, Deraj delivers a techno themed beat. Deraj and Canon combine their unique deliveries to express the importance and power of words.
“Runaway” is the type of track that will catch the unprepared listener off guard. The music fan that says “I don’t really like rap music, but this song is good” will enjoy the unique combination of the pop music base with Deraj’s lyrics. “Runaway” is a tale of someone falling into one problem after another because of not having the proper guidance or knowledge of where to look when one needs help.
Deraj closes the album out with “Forgive You Much.” The track provokes thought about the challenging issue of being able to forgive those that hurt us, proposing that one can either live, or simply “live in the past.” Much like “Egypt,” the track works to lull the listener into deep thought with the piano led beat.
Eschewing any blueprint or instruction manual for how to build a hip hop album, Deraj’s only real potential issue on the album is that he never focuses on a single theme or style. For those that prefer a specific sound may be frustrated that while a particular song is exactly the type of hip hop they like to listen to, the rest of Mirrors and Medicine is going to take them on an entirely different journey (over and over again). For those that just love good rap music, in whatever form it is found, will be quite pleased with the beats, the lyrics and the production.
As previously stated, Mirrors & Medicine is very much a praise worthy album on its own merit. With it being Deraj’s label debut though, the end result is even more cause for accolade.
You can pre-order Mirros & Medicine on iTunes here.