Following the edgier outing Professional Rapper, John Reuben returns with his latest project, serving up the double-sided coin The Boy Vs. The Cynic. When writing his newest album, John crafted two separate projects altogether. A darker, more cynical side was revealed on Professional Rapper that had barely been touched on in the past. Reuben had hoped to explore this side further on a side project while keeping the "John Reuben" material more upbeat and light. However, when the two projects were submitted to Gotee, the label preferred the side project's material as well as the more radio-friendly tracks on the Reuben record. The end result? A compromise.
Aptly titled, The Boy Vs. The Cynic mixes a more upbeat and sunny pop format with the aggressive approach that Reuben's previous project Rapper took. The record shuffles the lighter and darker material throughout its duration, enduring some pretty heavy mood swings along the way. John transitions between songs like "Follow Your Leader," a petition for thinking for yourself and the eerie "Sales Pitch," to the catchy and boistrous "Sunshine" and party song "So Glad." It's a rollercoaster of emotions, but it keeps the record diverse and fresh. When the album ventures into the more serious waters, Reuben is quick to offer relief a song or two later.
There's a little something for everyone on The Boy Vs. The Cynic. For those who thought Hindsight was a little too spastic or unbridled and that Professional Rapper was too serious, the mix here is good. The hip-pop "Nuisance" features harmonies provided by Relient K's Matt Thiessen and just screams for radio airplay, while "There's Only Forgiveness" is a brutally frank and creative industrial rap highlight. The guest contributions don't stop with Thiessen, however. Most of the album's harmonies are provided in fact by House of Heroes frontman Tim Skipper, which is especially notable on the title track.
The Boy Vs. The Cynic may not be as unified as Reuben's previous release, but it pushes the boundaries creatively. The genre-bending project is a deeper album thematically, boldly venturing lyrically where few artists dare to go. Reuben's honesty and tell-it-as-he-sees-it style of songwriting is refreshing. Fans who've enjoyed his previous efforts, as well as those looking for something a little different in the hip-hop world, will undoubtedly find a lot to like about The Boy Vs. The Cynic.- Review date: 6/19/05, written by John DiBiase
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