BandHip HopJazz

"Pouring poetry, scathing political commentary and journalistic confessions over traditional Hip Hop soundscapes, Witness is carving a path of his own with a live show to match."


Witness is the moniker of 22 year old John Parr, an up and coming Pennsylvania native who began making Hip Hop music in his home at the age of fifteen. Inspired by the freestyle scene and records he had heard during a brief stint with the local graffiti and breakdancing circles, he started pressing homemade mixtapes in his Junior year of high school and quickly developed notoriety amongst peers. Around this time, he began participating in local open mics and winning poetry slams. Immediately after graduation, he formed a collective of musicians called Recollective and booked a tour with Fuse One of HipHopInfinity.com infamy and poetry-slam champion Unsung, at the age of 19.

Soon after, he played various local venues and began honing his craft with local DJs. His music began to circulate when he jumped aboard Myspace as it was picking up steam in 2004, under the suggestion of famed indie hiphop artist Sage Francis, whom he had met on on the aforementioned tour. In 2005, he released "Ever Since" and went on the self-booked, 22 city "Peace Poor Child Tour" with Unsung, Atarax and the critically acclaimed producer Emancipator. "Ever Since", originally intended to be a tour-only EP, received favorable reviews and contained the song "Sylvia Plath" which was featured on various early music blogs that propelled word-of-mouth.

In a relatively quiet 2006, he continued to build the roster of the Recollective collective and absorbed various indie-rock influences, the death of his mother and a failed relationship, which would later shape his second release "The Evermore EP", which saw release in the late-summer, 2007. This album was long awaited by fans and sold more than 200 copies within the first day it was released online, with only minimal internet promotions. The EP features a much more mature Witness than he appeared on Ever Since, with the lyrics painting a brutally honest picture of the world around him over instrumentals featuring unconventional instruments for his genre.

Famed Japanese producer Nujabes, who scored the hit-anime "Samurai Champloo" with his blend of jazz and hiphop, took notice to both Witness and Emancipator of the Recollective collective and signed them to Rockwell Product Shop and HydeOut Productions, respectively. Witness is currently in the process of doing shows to promote the release of The Evermore EP and preparing his release for the Japanese audiences, which is being distributed via Tower Records distribution. Rockwell Product Shop is also planning a Japanese tour for 2008 for Witness.


Said The Sunrise

Written By: Witness (J. Parr)

"Said The Sunrise"

I said "until when", she said "forever"
I hope by then that I'll be old enough to know better
I tip toed on a pretty little landmine and
Read the body language that she wrote between her tanlines
But now we find our better judgement at the whim
Of the fingers writing cursive on the surface of our skin
It's like they're fumbling to unbutton the buttons
But there's something in my stomach that resembles reluctance
Because the moment that our tongues begin to speak french
I feel like a ghost in another lover's feetprints
I need a defense
In case she repents
Under the pretense that we should probably be friends
There's flowers in a wine bottle on her vanity
and a wooden crucifix that hangs above her bed
She was asleep, I was looking for an exit
Cause I know she doesn't love me and I wish we never met

She was a forty five caliber sweetheart tucked under my chinline
And when the casings hit the pavement it reminded me of windchimes
It was a thin line, a perforated edge
It should have torn apart the moment that we laid in bed
Head on my chest, like she's following a metronome
She was a poem, like a painting, like a lilac
And when she blinked, I think the universe stopped
As she traced a constellation through my freckles with an eyelash
But, it ain't affection. She called it foreplay.
It wasn't making love either, it was portrayed
with words in poor taste, the kind that strike deep
Designed to redefine beautiful as quite cheap
There was a bright street light leaking through her window
And when the wind blows, it stutters like its tongue tied
But so was I
We were strangers in the morning
So when I said "until when" she should have said "the sunrise"

Home Tonight

Written By: Witness (J. Parr)

"Home Tonight"

Sunrise, sunset, Twenty hour car ride
We're down south and it's gonna be a hard night
We got the Pharcyde playing in the tape deck
Going to chicago where the potholes break necks
Making good time, Dippin on them toll booths
Eating at them diners, Where the waitress gotta gold tooth
I met a kid that said that I should date his sister
That shit would never happen
Cause republicans are bad kissers
But that's tour
In america's backdoor
We get a little love
Then it's back to the blackboard
Back north
And then it's back home
Back east
Back still killing me from sleeping in the back seat
I gotta stomach full of fast food chicken
In a back room sipping on a Pabst Blue Ribbon
And I didn't want to listen to your wack crew spittin
But I'm digging the cheap beer and tattooed women

This city's gonna be my home tonight
This state's gonna be my home tonight
This world's gonna be my home tonight
Ain't no place like home

I'm looking for happiness
Where it's hiding in the future
Cause The Wonder Years are over
And I never got with Winnie Cooper
I used to be the skinny loser that could write a thesis
And I'm still a skinny loser but I rip the mic to pieces
But that's a right I keep a refusing to waive
I punch lines so hard that I'm bruising the page
I do it as a student of the loop and break and
Live life like "What would Larry David do with the day?"
It's like that y'all
As a recovering ragdoll
I'm done with shallow women that think that they're Carrie Bradshaw
I mapped all her dips and valleys from the mattress
But I'm still infatuated with the pages of an atlas
That's it
Got the bagged pack quick
Left the television on
But I'm not coming back, miss
Somebody's gotta pay the bills this month
And tonight I've been enlisted just to make a fist pump

Pennsylvania and Arizona
South Dakota and New York City
Been alotta places and I've seen alotta people
But I'm never going home, cause it looks so...

Canvas Stays Blank

Written By: Witness (J. Parr)

"Canvas Stays Blank"
It's just a snowstorm, right?
Just another night.
Just another life.
Just another friend.
That went to walk on thin ice.
I know it ain't my place
To make these kind of statements
But lately you've been distant
And isn't transportation
That's been making it a problem
I find it odd when you don't return my calls
But, maybe you've forgot them
I'll give you that
But try to give me this
I bet your fingertips are numb
And it isn't even winter, kid
It might be insignifigant
But maybe I'm just worried
Cause you're getting close to thirty
And you haven't left Jersey, once
I tried to chalk on the board as just a phase
But the dust is getting thicker
and the pictures getting vague with age
Like, where you stayin?
How are you affording this?
You used to be an artist
Show me what your self portrait is
Got alot in the bank
I want to know the reason
That your canvass stays blank

Don't get it twisted
This ain't no intervention
The world is just a stage
And maybe yours is Trenton
It's just a shame
That the actors are anonymous
And only those you broke a promise with
Are in the audience
It's probably obvious
That I'm feeling kind of guilty
It kills me that I neglected this
To get my kicks in Philly
Still, we
Gotta talk, we
Should grab some coffee
And catch up on the last four years
That you lost me to
Cylindrical dollar bills that never make change
And just the other day I heard you're taking it in vein?
I complain because you used to paint the world a little brighter
You used to be inspired
You used to be a writer
And I knew about the fire
way before it burned the bridges
But I guess that it was something
That I thought that you'd extinguish
I've got a picture of a face I used to know
so who's the person in the mirror
When you scrape away the snow?

Hold up
Kill the conjecture
I didn't come to lecture you
I came to get the truth
and understand you better
Through the pleasures you indulge in
The world that you've frozen
The doors that you closed
since your souls been snowed in
This skins grown thin
From over exposure
To elements like yours
and keeping my composure when
I need closure
You never sober enough
To even keep this boat
Afloat in the flood
Water is tepid,test it,settle and wet your feet,
I bet if you kept that head beneath another second you would sink
Or maybe you have, maybe you're rock bottom
And you only got a problem when you got the time to think
So, I'll be the kite without a string in your tempest
And you'll be the crack in this terra cotta friendship
And, that's how we'll end it.
Confusion and angst
While you're wandering a city
Where the canvas stays blank

Yesterday's Wake

Written By: Witness (J. Parr)

Set sail
We're leaving the harbor now
Christen the ship
Let the city slip from the starboard bow
Remember when the waves were only waist deep?
When the only thing we knew about pain was scraped knees?
When we would still walk where the shells were in shards,
if it meant that we could find that starfish before dark
But, as the comfort grows
We become the flow
And the ebbing tide that swept our lives into the undertow
and while I'm foolish
for building sandcastles where the waves break
You fought the current
And focused on yesterday's wake
You vacated our oasis on the premise
That our complicated promises were tarnished by the present

And I fear the tempest hasn't left your lips yet
But I love you
That's why I'm staying anchored to this shipwreck
So should the water ever rise above our collarbones
I'll be close by, closed eyes, cause I'm not alone
I'll never let the waters rise above our collarbones
Open up your eyes, babydoll, cause you're not alone

Sitting on a suitcase, knees to elbows,
Hands to face, like "Damn, it's damp today"
and the transits late again
I make friends with the night sky
Calling each star on it's white lies
But, from the sand I sit wondering where the candlelit nights
That used to be life decided to abandon ship
I won't stand for it, I can't handle it
Been waiting for a little bit of wind since the anchor slipped
I've got five fingers clinging to the driftwood
Looking for riptide that you travel on
But safe harbors and stagnant ponds
Couldn't make hope float if the passion's gone

Only Children

Written By: Witness (J. Parr)

"Only Children"

i put a message in a bottle
and threw it at outer space
it landed in a crowded place
about an hour late
I hope you read it, I wrote it to show you how to chase
the clouds away and bring an April shower to your flower vase
Cause nowadays it's only sour grapes in chardonnay
Life is the back yard and love is the garden maze
It's hard to say that if time hadn't come between us
That we could have been something different
That you could have become my Venus
We were only children the day that I made that incision
And left that heart shaped grenade inside with a pin missing
You wanted a wishing well that wasn't afraid of counterfeit
And I thought that I finally found a kiss
that can't exist in a town like this
We wanted to bound our wrists to something secure
Something with comfort
Something with substance
Something mature
But something shouldn't be short of perfect
for the world to call it brilliant
And I'm sure that we would have found it, love
But we were only children then

Her name was innocence
Her name was burgandy
Her name was amethyst
Her name was urgency
Her name was indigo
Her name was clarity
Her name was whispered
Where the angels wouldn't dare to speak
Her name was honesty
Her name was summer rain
Her name was chamomile
Her name was hunger pangs
Her name was ivory
Her name was fulfillment
Her name was music
But we were only children

And now,
I walk in rainstorms, waiting for halestones
Looking for goosebumps that translate to braille poems
I was thinking of you
Treading the trail home
Dealing with the weight of the world
Wearing on frail bones
Disjointed and withdrawn
Patiently pacing the piece of the planet
That my parents lived on
Cause lately, I'm lost
And I've been looking to get this heart centered
On something besides the comfort I find
In a pen and a pad and a bartender
You've been the injury
I've hidden from these symphonies
That linger in my inkwell
When I wonder what you think of me
I wanted to wage a war
That i wasn't aware that i could win
But that was then
I've been in a battle with nobody but my self since
So, whenever the wedding bells are ringing
Is when the phone won't be
And we'll know that we're getting closer to the moment
that we won't know me
When I was only that regret
And you were only that one
In a million
Limited opportunity
But we were only children, then


2005:Witness-Ever Since
2005:Extortion Labs-Astrolove (Featured on "Starset")
2007:The Evermore EP
2008: .45 Sweetheart

Set List