Chicago's Just Adam is Much More than Just a Rapper with Contemplative 'March'
Evan Dale // July 4, 2020
Never underestimate the power of a diary entry. Penmanship has always been the keystone to rap, and its most honest, evocative moments have long defined timeless projects. But, in a modern hip-hop scene as wide-ranging as ever, reaching from the hyphy & melodic to the old-school nuanced & hyper-lyrical, it’s easy to get lost in the grey area of it all. From the perspective of the undeniably poetic, without any sacrifice to modernity, comes Chicago’s Just Adam. And from Just Adam comes March. The rapper’s minimalist name is by design. He’s never been an artist looking for attention to be called towards himself or some greater vision of his ego. Instead, his music speaks for him and his listeners, all the while painting a lyrical picture with unparalleled vivacity.
His music – and with it, his new project – breathe of rap’s most message-infused, storyline-driven lane. For a half-hour, Just Adam’s seemingly effortless delivery meanders a patchwork of low-fidelity beats, leaving March calling to mind images of influential 90’s rap’s emcees while in equal breath drawing similarities to modern tours de lyrical force who, too, bronze their words atop picturesque soundscapes of the minimal in ornament, but grandiose in foundational stature. It’s that range of epochally unbound style; that raw knack for rapping that has never ceased to be in style, that has for years made Just Adam one of the more underrated wordsmiths of the underground cloth. And with March, he’s unearthed a newfound grace of refinement, emerging more than a lyrical powerhouse that should be more widely heard, but instead a veteran exhibiting the mastery in his unique yet storied craft, that in due time, undoubtedly will be.
There are – expectedly for such a collaboratively entangled city – a number of March featuring names who in their own right are also exploding out from beneath Chicago’s floorboards as some of the more intriguing, unique aesthetics in hip-hop music and its surrounding stylistic spectrum. Just Adam’s longtime friend, producer, and wide-ranging creative, Chromonicci ‘flew out and did the beat on the spot,’ standing alongside the choral vocalism of Darrion in March’s opening track, Summer Blues. The result lives up to its title as a melancholy, piano forward ballad that is as mellow in its aesthetic as it is fervent in its cascading wordplay. It sets the tone – an aperitif de poetic cool that remains consistent through March’s length.
Foolie $urfin – whose 2020 All of Me was one of the year’s most unprecedented young projects – lends his unique sound to Long Run. And from those collaborations amongst others – D’Andre Adonis & Jus’ Lovehall (March), Flex (Diamonds) – Just Adam introduces a new wave of artists exploring hip-hop with the ever-presence of soul, that all of us should be on the lookout for; that all collaborate seamlessly as a crew on the rise. And around those features, the aesthetic of Just Adam circles steadily, outlining the boundary of his sound and the boundlessness of his words.
Truly, it’s not even purposeful to hark on it so prevalently, but penmanship is the standout attribute to Just Adam’s texture. It has been since we first fell into his sound with 2018’s 208. But, what’s different with March is just how unendingly consistent his lyrically endowed compass merges with directions of laid-back production, and a mellow tone extending from himself to all his features. In short, with March, the rest of Just Adam’s musicality has caught up to his poetic wordplay, even as it itself has continued to progress. In result, March is a masterpiece of unique stature. And though his still emerging name ensures that it won’t right away be a masterpiece heard by all, there’s a lot of reason to believe it will be with time.
Just Adam has never been entirely reliant on a lyrically obsessive audience. He isn’t a one-trick pony. There has always been something to tap your toes to. But, a more wide-ranging hip-hop audience will undoubtedly find an endless list of somethings to love within the ever presence of bouncy, unified, summery production. And though its overarching texture is underlined by the springtime brightness of the month in its title, Just Adam’s newest project – also his best – Marches to the tune of any hip-hop season; in any hip-hop era.
Its most anthemic moments come in the sharp, shared edges of Just Adam & Flex exchanging verses on Diamonds. The track breaths of West Coast rooted melody and vibrant poeticism hard to match outside of Chicago’s city walls. And yet, moving track to track from Diamonds, there isn’t a moment where that same energy isn’t subsequently present, albeit always boasting a different textural take. On the other end, its most poignant delivery is in the project’s closing track, Change Me. It bleeds of honesty and downtempo chords, allowing Just Adam his most vulnerable diary pages to leave the stamp on March at large. And somewhere between the stylistic spectrums of the two tracks mentioned, the rest of March – perhaps most middle-grounded by its titular track – unfolds as a meandering, but never faltering coming-of-age tale from a young Chicago wordsmith who has so much to say; with such a straightforwardly poetic way of saying it all.