Boston transplant Jimmy Powers's debut is a workman's album, workman rap from a musician who has a day job. That perspective lends Powers’s music honesty, humility. This is apparent in personal songs such "Janice Marie," in honor of his mother, or "Same James," a nod to his Boston family and friends, assuring them that he hasn't changed, that he's still working toward his dreams while keeping memories of Beantown intact. Then there's "True Currency," in which Powers rolls out a litany of things that hold real meaning for him — love, family, respect — all over a grandiose, piano-driven backdrop.

There's a level of humility in Powers's voice, too, that carries past the emotional songs. It's the way he can spit what is essentially a standard boom-bap battle rap track, "Keep It Short (Intro)," in such a matter-of-fact tone. He just chugs away, putting together complex rhymes and wordplay. He displays his craft without beating us over the head with it, like he doesn't care if we hear it, content to rhyme well without the limelight.

But maybe that contentment is a double-edged sword. For all his virtues, maybe Powers is a little too familiar, too relatable. Maybe ivory tower-inhabiting musicians appeal to us because we aspire toward more than contentment. Hearing Jimmy Powers, you almost want him to risk his steady life and go for the gusto. Because if he did, maybe we’d feel like we could too.

Album: Califoreigner (2010)
Artist: Jimmy Powers
Label: 2012 Dynasty
Songs: (1) Keep It Short (Intro) (2) Cali-foreigner (3) Classless (4) New Era News (5) True Currency (6) Same James (7) Troops (8) Janice Marie (9) Evolution (10) Which Way Is Up (11) Worth (12) Shits & Giggles

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