Mike Jones The Voice www.whomikejones.com
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Here's the thing about The Voice, Mike Jones' follow-up to double-platinum debut Who Is Mike Jones?: People automatically want to hate it. Perhaps even more interesting, though, is that Jones knows this. The Voice's most meaningful song is a cathartic track aptly titled "Hate On Me," which even goes so far as to glance at the Ozone Awards debacle, where Jones more or less got his clock cleaned by Trae. But you know what? Objectively, The Voice is not all bad - in parts, it's even very good. Of course, there are no less than six throwaways on the LP. "Cuddy Buddy," "Swagg Thru Da Roof," and "I Know," for example, all feel like hedge bets, interchangeable melodic rap meant to act as substitutes on the off chance that the "Next To You" doesn't gain any airwave traction. But the surprises save the album.
"Houston Oilers" astonishingly borders on wintry, hipster rap, and "Boi," an economy-of-sound song that replays a screwed chorus loop - think Rick Ross's "Hustlin'" - each make fantastic use of Jones's sinusy voice and allow the typically predictable MC to reach outside his wheelhouse a bit. It's admirable to see a rapper this deep into his career attempt something new, and Jones will no doubt reap a ton of inane criticism for it.
No matter. He's expecting it anyway.