THE UNCOOL, the newest project from rapper and poet jason chu, is an exploration of honesty and hopefulness in the face of cynicism and hurt.
On the title track, jason proclaims the project’s theme: “I'm tryin’ to make the songs speak about my hopes and my fears”. Through 13 tracks of music and poetry, he does just that, speaking with an uninhibited but thoughtful perspective on hope, trust, and love in a world of fear, anger, and division.
This honesty finds him suddenly blurting out, in the midst of fast-paced rap Automatic Flow: “I'm battling my brokenness / and an economy that's filled with hopelessness”. It also produces Hide Out, a song relating two stories of teenage struggle. The details are true-to-life, presented with a refreshing, nonjudgmental tone: rather than preaching or moralizing, he lets the stories speak for themselves.
ChristianMuslim, featuring Toronto rapper Rah Zemos, finds the two men of faith (jason works at an international Christian church in Beijing – Rah is a practicing Muslim) condemning interreligious conflict and radical militancy with a bold, chanting chorus: “We go back and forth in the name of religion / But both us believe that we are God's children.” Later, in spoken piece MY GOD, jason again touches on his personal understanding of faith (“He knows the shape of my eyes, thighs and veins – and he loves them, even when I think I need to lose weight”).
jason’s lyrical reach isn’t limited to weighty topics; he also revels in memories of the past and old friends (Free Fallin), stories of high school romance – with a hip-hop twist (Six Step, Flip (Bboy Love)) – and a smooth-sounding love song (A Song For You).
THE UNCOOL is a free 10-track promotional mixtape, streaming and for download at http://grandmaster.bandcamp.com. The Special Edition adds 3 full new songs and is accompanied by curated photographs and a commentary and lyrics book, also at http://grandmaster.bandcamp.com ($5 USD). All profits go to the Red Thread Movement (www.redthreadmovement.org), a project of 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Eternal Threads dedicated to fighting illegal sex trafficking in Nepal.