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The Mox & J. Project: “Who We Are” – intoxicating, fluid, haunting, and just plain brilliant!

The Mox & J. Project features blues/soul vocalist Jess Bro and rapper Mitchel Paulson (Moxie). After years of success with other acts, the Twin Cities based artists joined forces as The Mox & J. Project. The debut album, “Who We Are”, has been released on August the 1st.

If you think that everything’s been written already and nothing that’s really new will ever come along – you need to hear The Mox & J. Project. Their work is a blend of Soul, RnB and Hip-hop and they sound like no one else out there.

MoxandJ-frontThe crossover sound that this duo brings to the table is smooth, soulful and satisfying but not dominating to ward off the normal crowd. Expansive instrumentation, distinctive vocals and well-rapped verses will envelop you. Today, it’s rare to stumble across an album that works on so many levels: musically, lyrically, and overall as an album.

Musically, the album is phenomenal. The Mox & J. Project draws from a wide range of influences. Lyrically, it becomes apparent upon the first listen that the songwriters, Mitchel Paulson and Jess Bro are well-read or have a wealth of personal experiences to draw from. All the while though, they keep the lyrics relatable and interesting.

Vocally, the lyrics are performed with an often-syncopated rhythm that itself becomes part of the music. On top of that, Jess Bro has a vocal quality that is difficult to describe and sings with a huge range.

I find this album particularly interesting, however, because of the arrangement of the tracks. In a world of digital downloads and the option to buy any track separately, I find it encouraging that The Mox & J. Project went through the trouble to be sure that the tracks holds together so well as an album rather than just as a simple collection of songs.

And when you hit play on the opening track, “This Could Be”, you’ll quickly realize that rarely do you hear something that sounds so completely fresh and groovy at the same time. You’ll be impressed with the blend of dynamic hip-hop lyricism executed by Moxie and the unusually soulful and powerful vocals by Jess Bro on “Full Blown”.

The Mox & J. Project Regardless if the sound is upbeat or down, there’s always an energy driving it that really hooks the ear, making almost every song seem like a contrast of itself, like the sweet and savory of haute cuisine in the culinary world. Anyway, the point is, it’s an infectious and volatile album. It plays with the mind and heart while refusing to sit still long enough to be pigeonholed.

Considering that nowadays cookie-cutter music is pretty much everywhere, it’s a treat to find something so indecipherably powerful out there to be enjoyed. And it all comes together on the single “You & Me” – the epitome of groove. The track is draped in a silky smooth melody, crooned beautifully by Jess, on top of a cool, but thumping drum beat. The sound is rich and satisfying, making it so easy to get lost in the music – relaxing yet intricate and inspirational, Moxie delivers a killer understated verse that fits the arrangement like a glove.

This has to be the bravest musical effort I’ve heard in a while. “Exposed” is intoxicating, fluid, haunting, and just plain brilliant – As is “Fear”, where Moxie gets to unleash his technical ability to its full extent, with a barrage of free-flowing rhymes. And while Moxie gets to shine brightly again on “Show’s Over”, its Jess Bro who gets the curtain call with the stunning powerhouse album closer, “What Now”.

Whereas most artists can neatly fit into various genres that can be listened to depending on your mood, The Mox & J. Project comes across as a genre unto themselves, and when you feel the urge to listen to music that resembles what’s on “Who We Are”, only The Mox & J. Project will fit that bill.  Theirs is intelligent thought-provoking and intricate music, with no hint of a low common-denominator.


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