When I was really into Christian music I used to purchase complications from Gotee, Five MInute Walk and Tooth and Nail (as they were my favorite record companies at the time). I remember one particular music festival I picked up Five Minute Walks’ newest comp ‘Take Time To Listen Volume 5’. It was on that comp I heard John Reuben for the first time.
At this point in my life I had hated all rap music. But when I heard his song ‘No Regrets’ it spoke to me. I immediately purchased his debut album Are We There Yet? and listened to it over and over again. It quickly became one of my favorite albums and opened the doors for hip-hop for me. I couldn’t wait to pick up his next album Hindsight, but when I heard it, I was filled with complete disappointment.
Sure some of the songs were fun (like I John Reu & Doin’) but for the most part this was a much more laidback sound then his previous album which focused on party songs (with 2 laid-back tracks and 2 metal songs).
It wasn’t until a year later when the album really connected with me. Ironically it had to do with two different things occurring in a single summer. First was seeing Reuben live and him explaining a few of the songs. Before this I never knew what the closing track Pataskala was about.
This song is about his best friend Scott Bellows who died while he was recording the album. The song is an optamistic look at death. Instead of focusing on the sadness of loss, he remembered the things that he loved of about Scott and even mixed in a little bit of dark humor “the other day your mom I saw her/Had to tell her I think Scott owed me twenty dollars”.
I also learned that the song Doin’ is directly influenced by the song E.I. by Nelly. Reuben went out of his way to write a song with an even more ridiculous chorus, I think he succeeded.
The other thing that made me fall in love with this CD was a little more bizarre. I was in the middle of a 2 day long drive home from Tennessee after a mission trip. I was starting to realize that I didn’t love my girlfriend. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to hurt her and she was the first REAL girlfriend I ever had. To clear my head I put this CD on. Suddenly a song that I always ignored or skipped came on. The song was called “I Pictured It”. The song is mostly a spoken-word poem with a hook, the hook is along the lines of ‘I look at her, she looks back at me, but her face looks different than I pictured it’ and the verses tell the story of an amazing girl that John just doesn’t feel the same way. He convinces himself that he’s in love when he’s not (My mind was smart enough to manipulate myself but smart enough to realize it was being manipulated).
The break up definitely didn’t go well but that’s not important. I don’t regret the decision and the girl and we were able to become friends again later.
John Reuben will always be one of my favorite rappers, mostly because he opened the door into hip-hop for me. While he still has a following in the christian community he seems to have developed a new found following in the nerdcore scene appearing on albums with rappers like MC Lars. Regardless he still doesn’t get the love and respect he deserves. For those of you who’ve never heard his music, here’s my favorite song of his (and the opening track to Hindsight) I John Reu.
When he's not reviewing nostalgic films and albums he's tweeting, writing for Geekscape.net or hosting his podcast The Saint Mort Show (this week's episode features Kyle K, Mitch Donaberger and Scrub's Sonal Shah)
<----- 96. Blink 182: Take Off Your Pants and Jacket