"I tried and I tried, but I had to go . . . " says JaWaan LaRue between verses on the searing track "Home Away From Home" from his new album Hurricane LaRue, released today on Orlando's Conscious Mind Records. The track denounces his former hometown--Seattle--for its lack of support during his pre-departure life and career, taking time to criticize the city's taste in hip-hop and lack of sunshine along the way. The track, which he prefaces with the Tupac adlib "the realest shit I ever wrote," is heavy and hard to swallow, but is also the best song on the album.
Conscious Mind Records
When he writes "no matter where I go, I got the Town in my bones," he's not paving the way for another flag-waving Seattle anthem, because that's not him. He's instead setting up for lines later in the song like "I can never change where I was raised/But there comes a time in life when you can't deal with the same," and the song's most outwardly resentful moment:
"It took many years to realize it wasn't me/It's the energy around there that made me leave/Drownin' in a pool of negativity/I gave my all but the city never gave shit to me/Or gave a shit about me, so why vote?/They rather see the rise of a great white hope/Lord forgive me, my heart is feelin' numb/I can't live another day without seein' the sun."The track, like the album as a whole, sets the stage for a new chapter in his career, one in which he moves out from under the weight--whether piled on by external agitators or the man himself--of past trials, and begins his life in a warmer environment--Florida, to be exact.
At his most honest, LaRue is at his most captivating, which is probably because the Iraq War vet has such a vast well of life experience to pull from. Whereas some lyricists can fall back on meticulous verse-crafting and substance-light/delivery reliant bars, LaRue can fall into cliché territory when he wanders, but the veteran lyricist possesses enough skill that he can usually pull himself out of a line- or verse-long rut, and finish with a few hard-hitting lyrics.
With each release, he creeps closer to the moment when he will inevitably break through with a premier project, and while he may not be on the same level as Seattle's current crop of upper-level lyricists (La, Avatar Young Blaze, Luck-One for example) at this very moment, he's close, and Hurricane LaRue is solid product that deserves listens from here to Orlando.
You can catch LaRue at his album release show tonight, 9 p.m., at Chop Suey.