Sunspot Jonz 

Don't Let 'Em Stop You

Sunspot Jonz isn't your friend. In fact, he's a hip-hop antihero, a prickly MC with a chip on his shoulder who'd rather rap about how he isn't a jock than about how fast he could clock you one. He certainly isn't pimping, slinging rocks, or rocking parties. In fact, on Don't Let 'Em Stop You, you suspect him of being misanthropic, gallows-humored, and maybe a little zonked-out -- the kind of guy who barricades himself in his bedroom on Saturday nights, taking to his diary the way other rappers supposedly take to their Glocks.

Both a loner and a loafer, Jonz is trying to navigate through LA's hip-hop underworld while staying "just a brown-bag lunch away from being broke," and he plays the part with gusto. Then again, you'd expect this kind of soporific oddballism from one-half of the Mystik Journeymen, a duo known for their boggy tones and fey lyrics.

But "soporific" might be a misnomer, a slur more befitting a jaundiced rhymesmith than an ill-on-the-mic MC such as Jonz. After all, the rapper's glumness is as likable as his penchant for self-effacement, particularly on the broken-heart number "There She Go" and "Escape the Past," in which Jonz raps about being unpopular in high school. Even when Jonz' rhymes are less-than-dope -- such as his la-di-da foray into politics on "Damnu," in which he half-assedly damns everyone from international dictators to whack rappers -- this album's beats are consistently saucy, if somewhat scattershot. Bad-diary verses aside, Don't Let 'Em Stop You is as much the product of a beat-layer gone bananas as it is the muse of a sad-sack MC.

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