The uproar of today is over the release of Jay-Z’s highly-anticipated and all-over-the-city book Decoded, but for Baltimore-based independent artist John Regan, another pandemonium is in order: November 16th also marks the release of his debut album from Culture VI Records, Sorry I’m Late, a delightfully mastered and organic composition that take its roots in the cerebral emotions and intelligible thoughts of Regan himself.
The introductory track “Sorry I’m Late” lays out the foundation of an album that thrives on the introspective and vulnerable elements of human nature, with the intro serving as an apologetic message to those who have been affected by John’s penchant for tardiness. Buttressing the honest poetry is a guitar-infused beat produced by Culture VI’s go-to producer, YZ, who provides the majority of the production on this album. On “Yesterday”, a nostalgic piece that finds Regan pondering with Joell Ortiz over the days long past, YZ complements the progression of Meylin’s vocals with a subtle piano melody that climaxes during the bridge after Ortiz’s verse, with an electric guitar riff steadily heightening the effect of the vocals.
Other stand-out tracks include the throbbing 808s-heavy “Nobody’s Somebody” that’ll easily cause you to break your neck while bobbing to the beat masterfully concocted by 88-Keys and Nottz (who also provides a heavy verse); the ode-to-graffiti “Paint the World” in which Regan illustrates by bars how he used to illustrate by cans and delineates himself as an artist with an infectious story-telling ability; my personal favorite “9:57 Interlude”, an insightfully crafted and deeply personal memoir about the realities of a struggling artist who must bend at certain corners to make end’s meet, a track that exhibits John’s ability to diversify his flow and rhyme structure; and the macabre tale “Suicide ediciuS” that chronicles the shortcut to life’s end that is further chilling because of the emotive strings provided by Needlz.
In short, Sorry I’m Late is a cataclysm of sorts, an explosive and original narrative that finds comfort in common themes of despair, love, resentment, hope, struggle, optimism, history, desire – in other words, a collection of experiences refined by Regan’s penmanship and soothing flow. With features from Marsha Ambrosius, Joell Ortiz, PackFM, Skyzoo, Sha Stimuli, Naledge, Ill Bill, Wayna, Nottz, Jaiden, Drew Hudson, Meylin, Nicholas Howard and Juganot, and production from YZ, Nottz, Needlz, 88-Keys, and Dub B, Sorry I’m Late is sure to delight any hip-hop fan and, quite frankly, any music connoisseur who appreciates the nuances of life and the artistry of talent that is able to capture those very connections that draw us together.