It's only natural for a listener to expect a lot from an artist's sophomore release after having a strong debut. John Reuben is no exception. Hindsight comes almost two years after his 2000 debut Are We There Yet? on Gotee Records. Reuben's debut fused rock, rap, hip hop with a touch of acoustic pop for a pretty infectious release. Hindsight follows up with a slightly different result.
Hindsight opens with "Dear Diary," a goofy, fun intro that John uses to reintroduce himself and already set the tone of the album as having a lighter feel. What follows is one of a couple fun and upbeat hip hop tunes that Reuben uses to shine the spotlight on himself a little brighter than the previous effort. "I John Reu" is a Hindsight highlight which serves as a candid guarantee that his music is "innovative." The song is driven by it's catchy rhythm and beat as well as its goofy lighthearted approach. "Run the Night" is a more melodic hip hop track about Reuben's need to just get away and unwind sometimes. Reuben exercises his feelings of confidence in his work by letting loose on "Soundman." The fun shout-out to the man behind the boards has potential to be more fun than it is, but the seemingly endless chorus runs itself into the ground before too long. "Breathe" is another album highlight. The almost-ballad is powered by a pounding bass beat and Reuben's melodic background vocals.
The title track is more reminiscent of Reuben's previous work as he rhymes about what God has taught him through patience and time. Reuben appears to be flexing his ego on "Doin'" as the crowd-sung chorus proclaims "Reuben, what is he dippidy doin'?" I had originally interpreted this song as an arrogant ego trip for Reuben until he quickly corrected me. "Doin'" is in fact a mockery of emcees fronting inflated egos. The beat is the song's draw, as well as its infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics. "A Defensive Offender" is another highlight, having a darker approach more along the lines of "X-Ray" from Reuben's last effort. The synth strings add a nice haunting touch to the song. "Pataskala" closes out the album, a tribute to his friend and former fellow-rapper, Scott Bellows who passed away last year. The fun potential sing-a-long is a nice touch in honor of his friend, as it ends with a short rap performed by Scott himself.
The overtly Christian message that the first album possessed, casting most of the focus on Christ, is not as evident here, making it seem like Reuben is elevated more this time around. Are We There Yet? was an excellent debut and his live show converted me into a fan, but Hindsight just didn't seem to have as much of the power the debut had. With that said, John Reuben's newest album may not be up to par with his previous work, but there's still just enough punchy beats and fun packed into its 50 minute length to satisfy the Reuben fans.- Review date: 5/2/02 (repaired on 7/21/03 after talking to Reuben), written by John DiBiase
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