Critical Focuz is a young man who jumped into manhood by being blessed by fire; struggling through E.A.U. (Emergency Assistance Unit) on the Grand Concourse, being in a Tier 2 shelter in the middle of a destitute neighborhood. While running his grind, aiding his father with a couple of dollars here and there, straining to survive on his last two pennies; the man has persevered. Now Critical Focuz has released “The Ride” EP, bringing his life experiences with him.
Kendrick emerges from the middle of his destitute neighborhood and we find him once pushing minds and boundaries on this 7 track collection. “The Ride” touches on self-esteem, self-actualization, community issues, politics and accountability with a myriad of other diverse and necessary subjects all dancing in between.
There is also a healthy helping of black consciousness weaving its way through the EP that will help open the eyes of the casual listener. The lyrics are straightforward, avoiding the usual complex cryptic crap that’s not accessible or digestible.
The production is diverse on every track and goes from stripped down soundscapes to cinematic and epic. But it’s the lyrical insight, call-to-action, and the conversations encapsulated within the verses of the songs which are not to be missed.
Providing a contrasting, mellow undertone, to take the edge off of his aggressive lyrics, Critical Focuz digs in from the first track, “We Just Niggas” – showing that he is a street poet, and another important voice of a suppressed generation. He discusses topics that few other rappers still has the balls to talk about.
His message of change and breaking the status quo, mirror the hearts of many people. “Roller” has to be one of the catchiest, most eloquent hip-hop tracks I have heard in a while, all dressed up in its reggae warmth.
Clearly, Critical Focuz is a rapper who is thrusting himself into the game’s elite, and onto the forefront of spreading positive social change and discussion through the perfection of music. It is rare that I am moved a great deal by modern hip-hop, but Critical Focuz brings the right arguments and substance to the table, to raise my curiosity. So “Hood Holiday” grabs my attention, as does the slow-burning love song, “Be Who You Are”.
On “War”, Critical Focuz ties the underlying themes of respect, commitment, perceived success and failure, and experiences from his own struggles and establishes a connection between these emotions and the modern-day black culture collective. It is brilliant in its paradoxes, in its emotion, in its depiction of life.
“The Ride” and Critical Focuz has a blatant disregard for our throwaway culture; its message is – be yourself, love yourself, empower yourself, and that is indeed the answer to change, my friends!