Written by by Asia Martin
It’s been 10 WHOLE YEARS since MC Jin put out a full length album The Rest Is History and 11 years since he co-starred in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Don’t worry, Jin and his fans haven’t abstained from one another that whole time, he successfully kept everyone tuned into his diverse projects through YouTube videos and EP’s in both English and Cantonese. Then there was his exploration of his Hong Kong roots which lead to being cast in various films and TV series. Over that decade, Jin grew up on us, got married, started a family and finally decided give the world another English album, XIV:LIX (14:59). Is this play on Andy Warhol’s coined term Jin’s last wave of fame or is he cluing us in to the creation of a new wave to ride?
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We’re lead in by a light piano chords with an announcer stating, “Ladies and gentlemen! It’s the beginning of a new and excitingly different story.” The beat gets heavy and Jin chimes in the thesis of the album, transparency.
Soulful vocals dropping in and fading out in between jazz-based horns swirling on top of fast beats. The verses come in mimicking The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s intro setting Jin up for a swift style that reminds you of Twista (who gets a shout-out in the middle of the song).
Welcome To The Club (Feat. Teesa):
The melody is whimsical and urban with strong emotional vocals from singer Teesa. Jin slows down his pace for this track but his bars are packed with passion. Favorite admission: “Maybe I don’t fit in, who am I kiddin’, been waitin’ my whole life just to get in.”
Carry On (Feat. Stacie Bollmann):
The melody is chill with a hard beat and the vocals are playfully skewed between deep and heavy to light and high-pitched. Jin comes in with every kick and snare venting his struggles in reaching fame and fortune.
Eat Sleep and Die:
This track is crafted with a beautiful conflict between a dreary and slow chorus throughout a fast beat. It paints a picture of the conflict within the common question of, “why are you here?” Jin’s bars reflect the melody and his verses act out the message. “Somebody tell me why, it feels like that we here just to eat, sleep and die. I know that’s just a lie.”
Jin opens his song with, what seems like, British philosopher Alan Watts famous quote on loving what you do. Jin follows in with toned down, conversational bars. He provides the chorus, which is the only switch up in the song compared to the consistent rhythm.
Glow (Feat. Tim Be Told):
Finally, an upbeat melody. Jin collaborates with musical group Tim Be Told for rich vocals and inspirational lyrics that uplift the album and lightens the mood.
Chinese New Year:
The track mimics traditional chinese instrumentals with a basic hip-hop twist as Jin lays out another piece of his life but this time he strings more of his family, their culture and cantonese into the mix.
Fairytales (Feat. Teesa):
“Everyday is the start of a new chapter, as they live happily ever after.” Teesa leads us in with a soft vocals contrasting from the previous featured track. The tempo is moderate and the flow is soft and cute as Jin’s love story unfolds.
Like A Rock (Feat. Tim Be Told):
Acoustic riffs start the track off with free soulful vocals setting the tone for a “feel-good” and heartfelt words on fatherhood. The hook: “Our love will be a rock in the middle of a raging river.”
The rhythm is simple with orchestral sounds raging throughout the track. Jin keeps the uplifting chill vibe going in his musical thank you to his fans.
Heaven’s Ceiling (Featuring Bére):
The piano melody chimes over a swift beat in the beginning and dwindles towards the end as an electric guitar solo finishing Jin’s thoughts.
Welcome Home (Feat. Bella):
The track gives off a down-home vibe with preachy organ instrumentals that invite you in for some comforting bars.
This track is heavy with a deep chorus vocals and an intricate modern melody that features more snare than kick. Jin phases in and out of passion filled bars and spiritual admissions that sums up the album and clarifies his take on 14:59.
At first listen, it’s hard to believe that you’re listening to the guy who once mercilessly slayed opponents on BET’s 106th and Park in the early 2000’s and then linked up with Wyclef and made us “Learn Chinese” and desire a blasian “Love Story.” Dude was the best thing this young tween, at the time, had heard since Ludacris. But as you go down the tracklist and tune into his effortless flow, you remember MC Jin is still there alive and well, but mature and settled now.
The album is different from his last English album, but if you’ve been following him you know that Jin is outspoken about his chosen faith. I was expecting XIV:LIX to be a Christian rap album, but instead it was more so a session to catch up on where Jin’s been and where he’s going. “I approached this project as if 14 minutes and 59 seconds of the 15 minutes are about to be up,” said Jin via his SoundCloud page.
XIV:LIX proved that Jin has fight left and his fame is not up. He sticks to the basics of hip-hop that is intriguing in a post-modern industry that has infused more pop and club sounds into their upgraded sounds. The style and pace of his flow is easily changeable and matches the tone, melody and purpose of the song. It was rare to find a verse out of place with the title and the message, an aspect I enjoy with any artist who can commit to it. The beats are clean, organized, and varies between hard-hitting passion and light-hearted fun.
This isn’t my favorite work by Jin, but it is a refreshing piece of music that is easy to vibe to. And, it is successfully an album with many quotables.