If hip hop is all about being true to yourself, then JoneZen is the epitome of that ethos.
The kid from the Motor City has been through it all already – and he’s still in his 20s. In the last decade, he forged a successful path as an MC, producer and writer. His achievements included performing in more than 400 shows, touring and recording with platinum artists, having his music featured on film and TV and having his album nominated in the San Diego Hip Hop Awards.
But at the same time, he also developed a debilitating alcohol addiction that threatened not only his career, but his life.
Now, with his latest project – the stunning ‘Live From Rehab’ mixtape – JoneZen – aka Chris Jones – has produced one of the rawest, fresh and insightful rap albums you will hear all year.
It is the story of a man who saw the edge, and stepped back from it. It is real, personal, unflinching and sometimes painful. In fact, it is everything that a great hip-hop record should be, but which so few are.
Although the mixtape describes all the emotions and experiences of JoneZen’s time in rehab, there is a surprisingly pop-like quality to many of the tracks. This is true, heartfelt music but it’s also music that retains its creator’s ear for a catchy hook, a nice melody.
Perhaps it’s because he grew up worshipping the great guitar heroes – Eric Clapton and Steve Miller – as much as the finest rappers. Perhaps it’s because he has always preferred his rap to come with a pop twist.
Either way, this album is fresher than 99% of hip hop you will hear this year, but edgier, more real and meaningful than the manufactured reality TV-inspired pop that the industry churns out.
‘Live From Rehab’ follows breakout single ‘Buried By Six’. Produced by JoneZen’s saviour and mentor, platinum recording artist Father MC, the track helped land a deal with Famous Records, signed while JoneZen was still in treatment.
The new record is a statement of an artist who, after grappling with the dangers of success, is ready to take it by the horns. It is about the struggle of one man to overcome his personal demons, how he had it all, lost everything, and battled to win it back.
Recorded while still in treatment, this is music that is as real as it gets.
Clean and hungry for success, JoneZen is about to launch himself onto the musical world in a big way: Straight outta rehab and straight into the charts. The world had better be ready.
"Live From Rehab" out March 1st. Available @ datpiff.com/