Midriff Music

Artist: Josh MartinezTitle: Midriff MusicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Josh Martinez has crept onto the scene with several EP’s and a few LP’s to boot. On the intro his latest album, the Vancouver based rapper admits that he’s more into small pressings; selling them, and moving on. This high paced artwork comes into the summer with Midriff Music (Camobear), an album specifically designed for warm weather, convertibles, and the outdoor party. Is there a reason why Josh Martinez stays low in numbers, or is this artist just too creative to be restrained?

The rhyming Martinez provides is his signature. It’s fast paced, whimsical content matter, often arranged in very allegorical ways. “Regular Day” has a hook that sounds like something heard from Sugar Ray or Uncle Kracker, with quick bars that reflect a carefree attitude such as “I can honestly say I’m happy to have you here / But I’m kinda scared of people, I like to hide out with beer.” It’s this type of self-indulgent banter that Josh is focused on. Unlike Sole or Pigeon John, Josh is a bit more optimistic with things. “Just a Dood” is a playful tune that approaches loss with an “oh well” sort of attitude. Josh’s storytelling skills are above par, but the diction is definitely more driven towards a Pop Rock touch than anything digestible to the Hip-hop community. There’s something very comforting in the small-scale of Josh’s life, his stories, and his simple rhymes. He provides strong images and constructs better choruses than many rappers out there. Like G. Love & Special Sauce’s first albums, this is sureshot summertime Rap for listeners looking to soften up the playlist for the BBQ or stoop even beyond the old-school classics.

Musically, this album soars above Josh’s previous work. Produced entirely by Samix, the San Diego producer is able to flex his own with a few instrumental segments too. “Time Alone” features thick production featuring piano, drums, and Afrobeat all at once. Meanwhile, “One More Sucka” uses vocal chants with hard drumming and hissing vinyl noises. These concoctions will appeal to fans of RJD2 and DJ Kno. When working with Josh, Samix gives off a warmer vibe that matches his content matter and tone. “Cheers” and “Tour is War” use fast percussion to keep up with the rapper’s pace, but still sound as though they could be played live. Samix achieves an organic sound throughout the record, while still dropping in samples to create a music melting pot that works for the better.

Midriff Music is Josh Martinez’ most exciting album to date. While the rapper seems to still be focused almost entirely on himself, he does so interestingly. Samix shows a lot of skill in being able to bond with the words, as well as take the opportunity to feature his independent talents. This work truly appeals to window-shoppers of Hip-hop. It utilizes a softer style that’s friendly to the themes and music of Rock. However, Josh and especially Samix prove where their hearts are at amidst the unique style.