John River- “Hope City II”
Here to tell a story with a fierce punch of passion is Canadian rapper and neighborhood activist John River. Born in Mississauga, a city in Ontario you can wander around in his new music video for “Hope City II,” the 20-year-old is finally showing us talent that can’t be ignored. In 2012 he introduced himself with The Calm, a mixtape that celebrates the bare optimism that he worked so hard to present to the world. “Hope City II” is the first glimpse into his already more confident and aggressively fluent 2015 follow-up, The Storm.
The music video directed by Trayne Adjei focuses on River as he spits line after line of smart observations tucked in clever wordplay to the beat of Lil Wayne’s “Tie My Hands.” The verse about him meeting J. Cole is the most eloquent expression of a young person learning to embrace individuality. He explains meeting his idol, who subverts the track of musicians who want to sound like their favorite rappers. J. Cole explained that true quality only exists inside you, as put to measure by River:
“John River used to sound like J Cole/To be honest I was scared I compared my own flow/And his was so much better/A completely different class/In my city I was nice/Next to him I was trash/Until the day came/I met him in real life/He looked me in my eyes and said nigger you real nice/You could be the best I know it’s true/ He says you sound like me you gotta sound like you/I said the rap game was stale and you was better than me/He said if you sound like yourself, you could be better than me/I can hear it in your voice but you stop ‘cause your age/Only way to be the best is to not be afraid/To be you”
He continues, responding to his own veracity: “Now pause/I swear that was the realist/I spit that raw shit and pray to God that you feel it.” “Hope City II” strolls on for 5 minutes of breathless candor, flooding decks with the maxed out passion that will take him to the next level of this curvy rap game. River has been working at Chicago’s LPZ Studios with head Engineer Papibeatz (Vic Mensa, Chance The Rapper, Rockie Fresh, Saba). The Storm will boast a feature from Chicago’s Pivot Gang front man Saba.
“For me, Hope City is perfect. Hope City is the city filled with hope, and if you look at the logo, the skyline is built from historical buildings from cities all around the world. So when you listen to this music, or when you go and do something, if you’re contributing to the hope in the city that you live in, then you’re a part of Hope City – regardless of whether it’s rap or hip-hop related or not.” –JR