For many, Tough Junkie may be one of the most talented producer-emcess you’ve never heard of… yet!
2009 was a great year for Hip-Hop. Between Paten Locke’s Super Ramen Rocket Ship and me picking up Willie Evans Jr.’s Communication my ears were already saturated with the sound of distinct albums by some of North Florida’s finest by the time I stumbled onto another name; Tough Junkie.
With a Moka Only-challenge-worthy forty-something, mostly unreleased projects already under his belt, 2009’s Grab What You Can was a critical, if slowly smouldering, hit in the underground. The unorthodox sampling of only local artists led to infectious loops complimenting a spectrum of drum patterns that stayed imprinted on my grey matter for weeks. That the lyricism maintained its engaging narrative, humour and informed commentary amidst this mad scientist-esque concoction of sound was a laudable achievement too. What struck me most still was the absolute ease he came across with whilst fearlessly colouring outside of the lines. In fact, so comfortable in his own style, he legally changed his name to Tough Junkie, breaking down any walls between “persona’s” and emphasising the continuum of his identity.
His latest project, the Missing EP, sees a release on Dres’ Pool Of Genius label, which should be recommendation enough for most of you. Track back and you’ll find Junkie’s path crossing with that of Dres’ numerous times, most notably perhaps as the catalyst for the Native Tongue posse-cut “Birds Of A Feather“.
There’s a little bit of everything I like about Tough Junkie on this EP. We get poetic abstractions on “Other Colours” and the stoic exalting of his rhyme skills on the bass-heavy “Hollow Spaces”. “Comfy Cozy” has Junkie trading verses with his baritone partner in rhyme P. Witapen over a suitably inviting deep-seated, foam-interior cushioned sofa of a beat. However, I found Tough Junkie at his best whilst amble-rhyming through his playfully chopped production on “Them Dibbs” – also because he acknowledged Bravestar. We’re also treated to a remix of Dres’ “Gimme 5” where woodwind and bassline sounds are programmed to maximum cosmic potency, breathing a renewed vitality into the collaborative track.
Here’s to hoping Missing is a snippet of more to come from Tough Junkie. Stream on MySpace, purchase on iTunes. Recommended further reading: Tough Junkie interview w/ The LaVilla Project (2011). Recommended further listening: “Grab What You Can” (2009)