In his newest release, An Excuse to Riot, Brooklyn native Julian Rhine seems to check a lot of boxes. In fact, despite being primarily a rapper lyrically, Rhine seems to skate across genres smoothly, incorporating nu-metal, rave beats and any number of hip hop and rap styles. On top of all that, he is highly political and uses his music as a vehicle to protest gun violence and the status quo. Having debuted the new single recently at New York’s huge CMJ Music Marathon, Julian Rhine has been able to get his message and unique style out to a large audience all at once. With youth anthems like An Excuse to Riot, Julian Rhine not only has impeccable timing but the musical power to drive these points home with a generation who is fed up with many of the issues which plague society today.
Julian Rhine already has some pretty steep credentials under his belt and as such has a growing following. Since releasing his first full-length album, The Journey of Julian Rhine two years ago, the renaissance rapper has done the CMJ Music Marathon three years in a row, as well as SXSW in Austin in both 2012 and 2013. Additionally he has opened for Macklemore, Diddy and Mobb Deep. He has been written up in The Source for his more hip hop-tinged No God Flow, and music magazines class him as bizarre but energetic and passionate.
Though his first two EPs under another monicre, White Rhino, were much less political, the issues of a complacent government and gun control are recurring themes in Julian’s recent album and in the new single An Excuse to Riot. Growing up in Brooklyn he presumably saw many of the effects of these issues happening around him. He does also have some fun dance anthems, however, like the extremely ravey Chive On, but mostly even if there is a dance beat involved, Rhine is waxing political and doing a powerful job of it.
An Excuse to Riot finds even more nu metal influence in both the backing track and his vocals and guitars. Rhine’s vocal timbre, which seems to be a cross between Easy E and the Beastie Boys, takes on more of a British approach to rap in this single. By singing many of the lyrics as well as taking on sort of a grime tone but with a much more passionate delivery a’la Eminem or Mike Shindoa form Linkin Park.
The upshot of Julian Rhine in both form and function is that he is clearly a very diverse musician who uses all of the tools and talents at his disposal to divulge what he feels is a very important message. Whether it is more cerebral in songs like New York City off his pervious album, or blatantly rageful as in An Excuse to Riot, Rhine is taking hip hop in not just one but many different directions. Not since Public Enemy has there been a rap act with so much political fire, and Rhine seems determined to change the system one song at a time.
Perhaps underlining Rhine’s passion for his message, The Journey of Julian Rhine and his other earlier EPs from White Rhino, Wednesdays and Just the Tip, are available to download for free on his Bandcamp page, listed below in “Sources.” An Excuse to Riot can be downloaded for free on Rhine’s Soundcloud page, also listed below, but if fans would like to support his cause, the single is also listed on Bandcamp under the “name your price” option.
Review by Layla Klamt