Tony Jacobs
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Tony Jacobs

| Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Established on Jan, 2014
Band Hip Hop R&B




"North Ethnik Album Review"

There is no place on earth that’s immune from hard times, and Tony Jacobs knows that all too well. Born in the St. Petersburg district of Russia but raised in Limassol, Cyprus, he witnessed firsthand the economic struggles that his family had to endure. Making ends meet that are always too far apart is a far from a pleasant pastime, and it wouldn’t be long before Limassol’s underbelly began to entice young Tony. Thankfully, the streets didn’t take him down, and those experiences coupled with a growing love for hip-hop began to take his life in a different direction.
Recording under his rapper nom de plume Tony Jacobs, North Ethnik is a full-length exploration into the seedy side of Cyprus. Although production credits are shared between Jacobs and Chris Charalambides, this is largely Tony’s vision in terms of the lyrics, beats, and song concepts. His heart and mind aren’t too far away from the streets that partially raised him; the album’s sequencing along with a majority of its lyrical content is preoccupied with the hustler’s lifestyle. When Tony talks about the South Side of Cyprus, he may as well be talking about South Central Los Angeles. There’s a heavy West Coast influence that can be detected in songs like “Southside Bossin’,” especially in the smack of the crisp snares and the horn presets that blare out the melody.
“50 G’s After” is a prime example of the baller and shot caller narratives that largely dictate this album’s subject matter. Even the laws of supply and demand can’t trump the respect that someone is due on the street, and Jacobs lets a potential customer know that in no uncertain terms at the song’s conclusion. While stories like these come straight from the life he’s lived, there are bound to be hip-hop fans that take issue with thuggish images being the dominant ones for this music. Such an observation is not lost on Jacobs, as he reveals in the opening bars of the second verse. “Gangsta gangsta got twisted into entertainment / from the ‘hoods to the lifestyles of the famous / Now gang banging’s a dream and rappers role models / see them on the TV set and on the chrome, sippin’ bottles.”
So does art reflect life because life started to imitate art? No answers are offered here, but “Hungry” does dig deeper into the politics behind the hustle. Over a sparse rhythm decorated with an electric guitar’s haze, Tony spits verses for the working class, pondering the rationalization to look at crime as self-employment when an honest day’s work is out of reach. Things become complicated soon after in his attempts to become untraceable along with his greenbacks. As Jacobs puts it, “Gotta stay low so my tags don’t match the database.” More than a surface level street story, “Hungry” easily emerges as one of the standout tracks on North Ethnik.
Alongside deep thoughts are moments of sensitivity as well, expressed in songs like “Heartbeat” and “Shawty Be Mine.” The former explores the complexities of love and relationships while the latter gets physical over a sexy shuffle and singer Elizabeth Simonian’s stellar adlibs. “Dreamin’” is the motivational cut that urges listeners to turn struggles into dreams fulfilled. As the lead single, its mid-tempo groove makes it a crowd mover and a potential club circuit favorite. North Ethnik may be an album that’s bogged down with tales of gangster glory, but it’s not entirely without merit. As the song “Hungry” comes to a close, Tony Jacobs reminds us that “there are better days to come, ‘cause hunger, pain, and struggle [is] our motive to become greater.” Here’s hoping that the rap hustle treats Jacobs better than the underworld that he was unfortunate enough to escape from.

Review by Jason Randall Smith
- Jason Randall Smith


Still working on that hot first release.



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