Certain albums come to mind when one thinks of music that changed the direction of hip-hop - albums such as 'Illmatic,' 'Reasonable Doubt,' and 'Paid in Full' - yet if John "Loj" Mouzon has his way, then his upcoming releases will certainly help inspire a new generation of hip-hop fans. Critically acclaimed and endorsed as an introspective voice for New York's new generation of MCs, Loj portrays a reflective and analytical perspective seldom seen in commercial hip-hop. Loj aims to create his own niche as a contemporary hip-hop artist by putting substance and thought provoking rhymes back into music that can be enjoyed by a mainstream audience. Loj's dual perspective comes from his unique experience growing up in very different environments and neighborhoods.
Influenced by a diverse range of artists from Nas to Jay-Z to KRS-One, Loj makes genuine music that the average person can relate to. When listening to his catalog as a whole, it's difficult to put a label on the type of music he makes. Hence the title of his debut album, 'No Labels.' He describes his music as "catchy, yet conscious hip-hop". Dubbed as the "Concept Kid" and never wanting to pigeon-hole his thoughts or his artwork, Loj rhymes upon a broad range of topics that affect himself, his people, and the world everyday. His music addresses diverse issues such as hip-hop culture, politics, life's pleasures and achievements, women, work, entertainment, school, and the realities that average people go through everyday. Critics and fans praise Loj for bringing balance back to hip-hop during a time where the music seems stagnant with repetitive material.
Loj's dual perspective is what seems to set him apart from fellow MCs. Born and raised in New York's rough neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens; yet moving to a different environment at the age of 16 gives Loj the ability to craft candid verses about the world through a balanced outlook. In always trying to remain evenhanded, he uses his past and present experiences to speak through a wise perspective. The younger of two children, born to working class parents, Loj learned early on the importance of a strong work ethic. Since his mother was a public school teacher she understood the extreme shortcomings of public education, especially the under funded and overcrowded public education system in New York City. As a result, his parents worked multiple jobs, day and night, to help pay for him to go to private school so that he could receive a genuine opportunity at succeeding. By leaving his neighborhood every day and going to private school, thus being exposed to a new world, Loj began to notice that there was much more to life than what he previously had been exposed to in South Jamaica. In addition to his parent's guidance, Loj was greatly influenced by his older sister, Helixx, who was a pioneering MC in the all-female hip-hop collective, 'The Anomolies.' She helped expose him to the art of MCing from an insider's perspective. This exposure of different environments has had a large impact on his development as both an artist and a person.
At the age of 16 his parents' hard work finally paid off when they were able to save enough money to move their family from South Jamaica, Queens into the neighborhood of Flushing, Queens. This was another experience that would have a profound effect on Loj's view of the world and the subjects of his rhymes. It would continue to expose him to different cultures and help give him a well-rounded personality that is mirrored in the music he makes to this day.
His debut album, 'No Labels,' is the product of his life's experiences and reflects his balanced outlook as his music bridges the catchiness of mainstream hip-hop with the consciousness of underground hip-hop. As the album title boldly states, Loj urges critics and fans not to label him as a "conscious" rapper or "commercial" rapper. He is neither...Loj makes music for the complete human spirit and everything that it encompasses.
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