From the category archives:

John Reuben

John Reuben

 

BEST LIVE SHOW 2005 Award Winner,
and a Best Live Show Nominee in the 2006-2011 Awards!
John Reuben - Best Live Show Award Winner

Runners-Up: tobyMac, The Newsboys, Flatfoot 56 (Cornerstone Festival IL. set),
The O.C. Supertones.

 

First, let’s introduce you to his music. John Reuben’s projects are mostly Hip-Hop (Rap)/Experimental/Rock— meaning, he uses full rock instrumentation as well as DJ scratches and beats; has very understandable rapping (in fact he’s the slowest rapper we’ve heard!) along with occasional singing; and he also has an excellent sense of timing, very unique lyrics and wording, and a great personality.

That personality, by the way, is fairly humorous; so he does have a lot of lighthearted content on his albums. But he doesn’t shy away from the heavy stuff, either— John does literally bare his soul on many tracks. Most of his songs also include comments and insights on life and culture; some consume an entire song, others are contained in one line. Those insights hit you in amazing ways, making you see or understand things in a new or freshly different light. In fact, when commenting on such things, John often has stunning clarity, admirable honesty, and piercing wisdom.

All of these elements combine to create some impressive albums… yet onstage, he’s even better.

John Reuben John Reuben's DJ
John Reuben's Drummer

(Photo Credits: Ember)

As we mentioned before, John Reuben has a fairly humorous personality; and, because of this, his interactions with live show crowds are usually downright hilarious. John likes to tease the crowd into participating, and the even more funny element is that not only does John like to tease his fans, his fans also like returning the favor! In fact, many people who have been to a few of his shows (and so know a fair amount of what he’s going to do) will tease him right back during the show— often prompting more funny dialogue from him. And his recent shows have even incorporated hilarious costumes, too!

John Reuben

(Photo Credits: Ember)

In all, the aforementioned teasing, his humorous expressions, and constant interaction— taken with the songs as well— make a John Reuben show quite enjoyable, indeed.

John Reuben

(Photo Credits: Ember)

Live Show Rating: 5 & 1/2 Stars. 5 & 1/2 Stars

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Are We There Yet?

A Best First Release Nominee in the 2005 Awards

 

Are We There Yet? begins with “Divine Inspiration” (featuring Alan Auguste’), a good start to the CD as it explains what John is all about. The end of this track introduces “Cleaze”— John’s ‘nemesis’ in several of his songs and music videos — and it serves as a lead-in to the next track…

…The classic “Do Not”, one of the all-time fan favorites [and played at live shows to this day]. It’s easy to see why— the whole thing is quite catchy, and the lyrics are excellent.

“No Regrets” is a great song that describes John’s struggle to live with no regrets (and his eventual success).

“Him Her He She” is what John would call one of his ‘occasional dance tracks’— it’s a song that’s fun and fairly catchy.

“X-Ray” changes the mood completely— it’s a dark and very serious song about depression and denial. It’s sort of an eye-opener for people who may not realize they’re going through that.

The next track “Gather In”, however, brings the mood back up; it’s a catchy tune featuring the “Whoa, ba da-da-da” line that John sometimes used by itself to tease the crowd in his live shows.

“Rest Easy” is another good song. Lyrically a sequel to “No Regrets”, it’s also strong on its own.

“Hello Ego” is a truthful yet at the same time very humorous tune directed at those with overly large egos. John is actually talking to one of these people on the phone during the song, and it’s Cleaze! In fact, one of the funniest parts of the song is Cleaze trying to console himself after John gracefully hangs up.

“Jezebel” (featuring Cristina Elen) is a song that describes, and warns against, a dangerous relationship with someone who’s only playing for pleasure. It ends with John seeing through the façade and doing the right thing: saying goodbye and walking away.

“Draw Near” is another great song that is filled with firm hope.

“Identify” details some of John’s struggles during the verses and his victories and hope during the chorus and bridge.

“Place To Be” (featuring Speedy and Alan Auguste’) is a literally hilarious track in which Speedy, Alan, and John all attempt to freestyle in the studio.

Finally, the last track “God Is Love” (featuring tobyMac) closes the album off nicely.

In all, Are We There Yet? is a great debut.

Our rating for Are We There Yet?: 5 Stars. 5 Stars

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Hindsight

A Best Second Release Nominee in the 2005 Awards

 

Interestingly, as compared to Reuben’s other projects [both past and future], Hindsight has a nice laid-back feel throughout most of its entire length.

The album kicks off with “I’ll Try Harder”, a humorous diary entry that leads right into the next track (“I John Reu”).

“I John Reu” is a song that John has often played live; and while this version is obviously quite good, the live version is even better because of John’s humorous interaction with his bandmembers during it.

“Hindsight” is a great song about how to live life; as usual, John’s insight serves him well.

“Soundman” is a catchy and fairly humorous tune that, as you might expect from the title, is pretty much about live show soundmen. (…Or then again, maybe not. )

“Breathe”‘s excellent music and great lyrics make this song another one of John’s best.

From the chorus and some of the other lyrics of “I Pictured It”, you might think that it’s about a relationship of John’s, but it’s really another life-song.

“01/08/02” is another diary entry. This one is actually somewhat serious; but like the other diary entry, it leads right into the next track (“Doin'”).

“Doin'” is a great track— one of the all-time fan favorites, played at every show. The CD version (as opposed to the live show or music video versions) actually features a couple clips from some of the ‘dippity-doers’— one of whom is Cleaze (!), who seems to have chilled out somewhat since the previous album.

“Thank You” (featuring Manchild and Othello) is a quite catchy track. There’s a bit of humor at the end, too— John’s DJ puts the beginning of the song “Him Her He She” (from John’s previous album) onto the turntable, and you then hear John hysterically yelling “You see, I told you!! That’s a hit!!!”

“DJ Manuel (Turntablism 101)” is a short DJ-only track, providing a nice segue.

“Up And At Them” is another great upbeat song. In it John humorously uses a lot of large words that often start with the same letter.

“Defensive Offender” is the only rather dark track on the album— it addresses hate and harsh/manipulative words.

Finally, “Pataskala” is one more life-song that is slightly humorous but mostly just true. (John’s DJ finishes it with some humor, too.) This track caps off the album in style.

Hindsight is an excellent record, and we definitely recommend it.

Our rating for Hindsight: 5 & 1/2 Stars. 5 & 1/2 Stars

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Professional Rapper

A Best Third Release Nominee in the 2005 Awards

 

Professional Rapper begins with the fan favorite “Move”. It’s a good track with mostly intro-type lyrics, yet like pretty much all of John’s stuff it contains nuggets of insight.

“Have No Opinion?” calls out hypocrites, false revolutionists, and people who are automatically argumentative, while explaining that he doesn’t want to dispute his personal opinions and beliefs with those people.

“I Haven’t Been Myself” (featuring Adrienne Camp) is musically dark/downbeat. Lyrically, he speaks words of regret for some things that have happened in his life, wanting to go back to how it was before.

“Life Is Short” is a cool, upbeat, catchy tune, lightly encouraging you to appreciate the time you have and to try and make it count.

“Treats” is another fan favorite. It begins with a hilarious clip of John supposedly talking randomly between songs onstage, and a frustrated girl in the ‘crowd’ loudly protests and even taunts him; she wants a real show, not just “that stupid arm thing”. From there on, the song is cute, fun, and very catchy. It also contains the ‘crowd’ occasionally shouting in unison (“Give us what we came here for! Encore, we want more…”, etc.). [And since this CD came out, we actually once heard a real crowd chant that, instead of the standard “one more song”, to get a John Reuben encore!]

“Freedom To Feel” (again featuring Adrienne Camp) is another dark track that gets fairly intense at the end. Lyrically, John observes (among other things) that if no one really shows their true self, how can anyone know what’s real?

“Time To Leave” first describes what he was told by society about what he should do and what relationships are like (which wasn’t right or true), and then his insightful observations about how it really is. He also reminds you: Never forget to truly live life. Lyrically, this is one of John’s best tracks.

“Re-Record” is an upbeat song, with John supposedly recording a message to everyone. He keeps on ‘re-recording’ it, but the whole thing (as usual) is good, and also (as usual) insightful.

“Jammin’ John And Mixin’ Manny” is a cute, short track that ‘describes’ himself and his DJ.

“All In All” (featuring Tom Skipper from House Of Heroes) is a more musically laid-back track.

“5 Years To Write” is a tribute from John to his wife. It goes through all of his conflicting thoughts, emotions, and the changes he went through as their relationship grew; yet, again, it’s insightful for the rest of us as well.

Finally, “Higher” (featuring Alan Auguste’) lyrically begins in the first verse as a simple closer track; but in the second verse John squeezes in some more insights.

Professional Rapper is simply another great album from John Reuben.

Our rating for Professional Rapper: 5 Stars. 5 Stars

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So In Hindsight The Professional Rapper Isn't There Yet (Remix)

 

Well, like many remix CD’s, there are a few great remixes, a few good remixes, a few fair remixes, and a few that don’t really make sense. And for the record, all of the original versions of these particular songs are better. That said, there are several interesting remixes on here, so we’ll get right into the review.

“Do Not (Liquid Beats Club Remix)” is a Fair remix with a kind of Spanish flavor.

“Divine Inspiration (Elected Official Remix)” has a new beat that sounds really neat… except during the chorus, where it sounds a bit strange. If not for that, we’d classify this as one of the great remixes. So, it’s Good.

“Gather In (DJ Form Remix)” is Fair. Its new music is mostly just beats; it’s not quite as energetic or full-sounding as the original.

“Hindsight (Elected Official Remix)” is a Fair remix, darker in its musical nature than the original. The darker music provides an interesting take on the song, for sure.

“Breathe (Liquid Beats Remix)” is a Great remix. It’s musically stripped down from the original— just an acoustic guitar, a bass, and an upgraded beat.

“Doin’ (Liquid Beats Remix)” is again Great. It’s a little faster and even more upbeat than the original.

“Move (DJ Form Remix)” is the third Great remix in a row. Its music is very different from the original— it’s intriguing, and almost suspenseful.

“I Haven’t Been Myself (DJ Form Remix)” is one of two This Just Doesn’t Make Sense remixes. While it does sound kind of cool, it is unfortunately far too upbeat. The original was musically dark and somewhat intense, and that’s exactly how it should have been. This remix is musically too ‘happy’-sounding for the lyrics.

And “Life is Short (Elected Official Remix)” is the other Doesn’t Make Sense remix. The new music that they use just doesn’t fit (especially in the chorus, but also during the rest of it). The last 10 seconds are cool, though.

Bonus Tracks:

“Do Not (Liquid Beats Smoothed Out Remix)” is a Great remix. They use a new beat and some really cool, laid-back-jazzy-piano music that properly picks up during the chorus and bridge.

“Gather In (Elected Official Remix)” is Fair. It sounds a little strange at first, because of the background music itself and also because they slowed John’s voice down a bit; by the second verse, though, you’re used to it. It also has an interesting and fairly cool take on the chorus.

Finally, “Life is Short (DJ Form Remix)” is Fair. Again, the new music doesn’t exactly fit this song; but it is better than the other “Life is Short” remix.

Our recommendation? Get John’s actual studio albums first, and then if you feel like it get this one to hear other people’s remixes of some of his work.

Our rating for So in Hindsight the Professional Rapper Isn’t There Yet:
3 Stars. 3 Stars

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The Boy vs. The Cynic

A Best Fourth Release Nominee in the 2005 Awards

 

With the new music releases in 2005, the key word seemed to be ‘diversify’! Most bands’ ’05 releases showed them, well, diversifying their talents, often to new and great heights (take Relient K, Switchfoot, and Spoken for just a few of the many examples). John Reuben’s album is no exception— this CD shows him branching out both musically and lyrically.

Interestingly, The Boy vs. The Cynic turned out to be a clever title. For this fourth album, John had given his label two CD’s (of very different styles) to choose from— one containing more fun and lyrically-lighter tracks, and one containing darker, lyrically-heavier tracks. He had expected the label to choose the lighter CD; but because they felt that the serious stuff needed to be heard as well, the label chose to take some of each— making the album’s title a very true one.

The Boy vs. The Cynic starts off with “Out Of Control”, an amazingly playable fan favorite that is one of John’s all-time best.

Next follows “Nuisance” (featuring Matt Thiesson of Relient K), a song that ate up the radio charts and became another fan favorite.

“Chapter 1” describes the darkly fake and cynical world, but offers some grains of hope in the middle of the song.

“Follow Your Leader” is another one of John’s best— the chorus’ powerful guitarwork and equally powerful, true lyrics will have you listening intently in a heartbeat.

“Sales Pitch” is a track with an almost creepy chorus, but it’s filled with lyrics that are sure to make you think.

“Sunshine” is a mildly goofy song musically, but it does have some good lyrics.

“So Glad” (featuring Tom Skipper from House Of Heroes) is one of John’s ‘occasional dance tracks’— it’s definitely lighthearted.

“What About Them?” is quite a departure; lyrically, it’s the most cutting track we’ve ever heard from him [not just on this album, but to date]. If you’ve followed John’s music for a while, you might get a mild shock the first time you listen to this track— we did— but that’s exactly what he intended. Once past your surprise, listen carefully to his words: “What About Them?” is a sharp wake-up call, reminding everyone to care about and generously help those who are in need in other countries.

“There’s Only Forgiveness” is another great, powerful song, showing how futile bitterness and revenge is and that forgiveness is vitally necessary.

“All I Have” is another one of John’s best, emphasizing letting go of your own desires and being content.

“Cooperate” is another wake-up call, this time a targeted one.

Finally, title track “The Boy vs. The Cynic” closes off the album with a reminder to embrace— or in many cases re-embrace— innocence and purity.

Our rating for The Boy vs. The Cynic: 5 Stars. 5 Stars

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Word Of Mouth

 

BEST FIFTH RELEASE 2007 Award Winner!
John Reuben's 'Word of Mouth' - Best Fifth Release Award Winner

Runner-Up: Relient K (Five Score And Seven Years Ago).

 

With the release of Word Of Mouth, John Reuben has successfully branched out yet again. A new producer, and some help from Solomon “Soul Glow Activatur” Olds of Family Force 5 on several of the tracks, means that most of this album has a very different musical feel than any of his previous work… and yet, somehow, is still classic John Reuben.

The first track is “Sing It Like You Mean It”, which is musically part Western movie, part suspense.

“Trying Too Hard” is a fairly dancy track with a message to be yourself.

“Make Money Money” (featuring Aashid Himons) contains a folksy, jazzy banjo; a great, heavy, head-bobbing beat; and an equally great, very catchy guitar. Lyrically, its humorous-yet-serious cliché chorus warns you to save money and not just spend it all, and the verses contain more great insights. This is one of the album’s best tracks.

“Focus” encourages you to live in the moment and not take anything for granted. (And John himself actually sings the chorus!)

Title track “Word Of Mouth” is a little more familiar musically, has mildly sarcastic lyrics, and has a humorous outro.

“Miserable Exaggeration” (featuring Lindsay Jamieson) reminds you to be yourself, yet live for more than yourself.

“Universal” has a fairly goofy chorus both musically and lyrically, but great verses.

“Curiosity” is musically slightly odd, but features more great slow-rapped lyrics.

“Cool The Underdog” (featuring Aashid Himons) actually is the coolest-sounding track of the album, and one of the coolest John has ever created, with great Rock, great original orchestration, and great lyrics.

And the final track “Good Evening” is actually very similar to the ‘occasional dance tracks’ on his previous albums. It’s a nice feel-good song to end the CD (and the track itself ends with a little humor, too ).

This is another great album from John Reuben, one that actually grows on you with each listen; and it’s worthy of Best Fifth Release.

Our rating for Word Of Mouth: 5 & 1/3 Stars. 5 & 1/3 Stars

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