Hailing from Baltimore, MD, John Regan releases his debut album Sorry I’m Late on Culture VI Records. Regan, a man behind the scenes of Culture VI for years drops a polished rookie effort featuring notable guests of hip-hop ranging from producers 88-Keys, Nottz & Needlz as well as the up and coming YZ. Guest verses are equally star-studded with Joell Ortiz, ILL Bill, PackFM and others sharing the mic.
John’s most common theme is well, personal life. His lyrics embody the world he lives in; being a young father, former graffiti artist and label president. All of these attributes come into play in his mostly introspective lyrics. Most tracks are conceptual with one main focus, for example “Paint the World” a hard hitting track featuring PackFM tells the story of a graffiti artist trying to get up. “Even though I love rap/got a fetish for caps/from the German outlines/to my NY fats.” Though his voice is fairly non-descrip,t his flow is steady and you can tell he puts a lot of emotion into his writing. Most tracks have a much more serious tone however such as “Suicide ediciuS” a heart-felt track contemplating you guessed it, suicide.
John does a pretty good job combining rock hooks and rap verses though admittedly in this reviewer’s opinion…rock/rap collabs don’t do it for me. That being said it is a breath of fresh air to the music, I’m just closed-minded and way too into classic rap. That being said, I dig John’s clear influence of classic rap in his bars. The stand out track to me is the aptly-titled “Sorry I’m Late.” produced by YZ. The track is built around a hook that fades in and out “I’m sorry I’m late/I know I had plans with you…” In my opinion the guitar sample and drums match the feel of the hook and John rides the beat with authentic feeling verses detailing the strife he’s dealt with while maintaining a sense of urgency and confidence. I think that’s a noble stance for the first track on a debut album.
Musically, the album has a heavy rock influence. Much of this can be credited to producer YZ. (No, not that YZ.) This guy has worked with artists ranging from Wyclef Jean to Patti Labelle. Sorry I’m Late features 10 tracks produced by YZ and his trademark of well equed-drums and stirring samples and instrumentation (many of which lend their focus to the piano). Though there is a variety to his beats, a common theme is the use of female vocals. YZ excels at blending hooks either sampled or not and builds songs around them, most notably on the previously mentioned “Sorry I’m Late.” Aside from pretty good production a shout out should be given to whoever mastered the album. Unfortunately my pre-release copy doesn’t have that info but it should be noted that this album was recorded very well.
Though it’s far from a classic album, John’s debut is solid and it’s clear he has tons of potential. Fans of rap music who want something with a slight rock-twist and are sick of weak thugged-out emcees should check out Sorry I’m Late.