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John River – Hope City II [Video]

Mississauga, ON – Holy damn. John River just released the realest rapidfire on us with the video release for “Hope City II,” which is the second instalment off John’s forthcoming mixtape titled The Storm.

In a short five minutes, John River hops on to a Robin Thicke beat (which you might remember from that Lil Wayne joint titled “Tie My Hands”) and drops a lyrical fury that tells us his story as a young hungry up-and-comer from Mississauga trying to put himself on the map: “Drizzy is the pop of Toronto/ And I’m the baby/ ‘Cause I been in the crib/ With blood up on my bib/ I swear I kill these n**gas if they ever try and fib.”

This joint just devoured Canadian hip-hop for the month. Check it out after the jump.

John River - Hope City II [Video] -

This kid knows what the actual f**k is up. This video is ranking as one of the best releases I’ve took in this month. I love John River’s delivery because you really can’t argue with his commentary on the rap game because it’s 100% accurate. And it’s hard as nails: “Sell your microphone/ Your booth/ And just kick back/ You n**gas still writing your Kendrick Lamar diss raps.”

Then John takes us back to his come-up when he used to sound like J.Cole. “To be honest I was scared/ I compared my own flow/ And his was so much better/ Completely different class/ In my city I was nice/ Next to him I was trash.”

Now I just want y’all to take a minute and take that in. Because it’s so much more than John comparing his flow to that of Jermaine Lamarr Cole. John is hitting us with a commentary on what it actually takes to make it in the rap game. Too often, rappers lay claim to being the best MC in their city or town. And it’s corny AF. Because cats lose track of the fact that the whole world is watching. Yeah, it’s easy enough to become a hometown hero in a town with 5,000 people. But that’s not where the standard is set in the rap game. Maybe you’re the only one in your local rap scene who can exceed six syllables per bar. Huge kudos to you. When you make it out into the real world, the other MCs are going to run circles around you. And that’s exactly why I’m reeling over John River’s delivery. Because he knows that it’s not good enough for him to be the best in the Sauga. He just wants to straight-up be the best.

John follows up those lines by telling us about the moment when he actually met J.Cole and was told that he had to start doing his own thing: “I met him in real life/ He looked me in my eyes and said/ N**ga you real nice/ You could be the best/ I know it’s true/ He says “You sound like me, you gotta sound like you.”

Long story short: you keep doing you, John River. Everyone else: keep your ear to the ground on this cat and step your game up.

Twitter: @JohnRiverFTC

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Sarah Jay

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Sarah Jay is based in Calgary and works as a freelance journalist and photographer. Sarah is also a former A&R talent scout for the Universal Music Scouting Program, and runs a vintage store during the day. Sarah has juried the JUNO Awards, The Polaris Music Prize, and The Prism Prize. She has been fortunate enough to interview and photograph some of hip-hop's greatest influencers including Future, ScHoolboy Q, Ghostface Killah, Moka Only, Maestro Fresh Wes, Shad, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, and more. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @ThisIsSarahJay

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