Median: Median's Relief

The lone guest appearance from Little Brother’s stellar 2003 debut The Listening, Median has held his gifts for the longest, operating off of message boards and networking sites to get his music out there. Now having linked up with Wordsworth and Oddissee’s home, Halftooth Records, almost five years later than his Justus League cohorts, the MC drops Median’s Relief (Halftooth).The common man themes of rap are passé. Records like Blackalicious’ “Swan Lake” or The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” were anthems 15 years ago, but today’s audience appears to resonate with fantasy above reality. That being said, Median, undoubtedly a commoner himself, uses creativity to bridge the gap. “Brenda’s Baby” is a ‘what-if’, linking 2Pac’s early hit to the recent film Maria Full of Grace. This isn’t presented as a Canibus/Killah Priest-esque conspiracy theory, but rather as a rap fan watching an art flick, and comparing the two. Equally, “How Big is Your World” disguises itself as a 9/11 reflection, and works as a simple message for change. With a mic presence and delivery not unlike Speech’s of Arrested Development, Median has a mild-manner, almost conversational flow. This serves as nice contrast to the aficionado attitudes from MCs in today’s underground and the baritone growls of the mainstream. To some, Median – and his subject matter, may be vanilla and drab. However, who knew that being common could be so different in Hip-Hop?Production matches the middle-of-the-road lyrics. 9th Wonder provides four cuts, most notably the aforementioned “How Big is Your World,” which instills a Premier-like timing, with warm accented tones, and scratches in the chorus. Newcomer Ant B holds it down with “What Would You Do?” which has chilly congo drums and deft vocal sampling. At no point does Median rely on Khrysis, Nicolay or 9th to deliver him a hit, but rather, each luminary provides their Soul compositions against Median’s reflections in a cohesive way.Median’s Relief follows in line with the Halftooth catalogue. The Wilmington, North Carolina MC has a lot to offer. Perhaps 16 tracks is a bit too much, and the numerous remixes and updated older tracks get the listener bogged down in reconsiderations. Still, at several points in the album, Median proves himself different from his group-mates, and chooses a less-traveled stance in Hip-Hop that makes him accessible to anyone willing to admit they’re just normal. SOUNDCHECK:Median “Collage”Median “How Big Is Your World?”