Published Sep 22, 2015"The calm before the storm" isn't just a phrase in 21-year-old Mississauga native John River's life — it's also the namesake for his past and present projects, respectively. As 2012's The Calm boasted a positive outlook about his future endeavours, the 2015 release of The Storm reveals a new chapter in his coming-of-age story.
While John River challenges society's faults throughout The Storm — police brutality on "Broken Down," drugs and violence on "Matthew's Song" — he offers enough optimism to keep hope afloat throughout this 12-track mixtape. "Hope City II" embodies River's passion for his hometown, a city that he continuously puts on for throughout the album. Whether it's the WondaGurl-produced "Remember The Titans" or the uptempo "The Backup Plan" and "On and On," the Row, as he calls his city, comes first. As his voice cracks with emotion, he pays tribute to the late Mississauga rapper Redway on the gut-wrenching "BLVD," and closes out The Storm with the church choir-aided "The End," an ode to fallen friends.
Secure enough with himself to be vulnerable, to make mistakes and express emotions, The Storm demonstrates the growing pains of modern day rap — balancing the ability to be lyrically aggressive without being heartless — but perhaps more importantly, the ability to bring a whole community through The Storm. John River has both. (Independent)