J’Demul – “University Street”
St. Louis rapper J’Demul’s music serves as documentary, a window into seldom seen parts of his hometown St. Louis. “University Street” and its stark accompanying video by director Louis Quatorze embody the notion of “existence as political statement” explored in my recent piece “Promise That You Will Sing About Me: The Artist’s Burden In Desperate Times.”
While rappers like Schoolboy Q and Vince Staples often approach observance with a sort of anger, boiling byproduct strain of daily life beset by uncertainty and violence, J’Demul approaches his street inspection with reserved weariness. He fills his raps with matter of fact detail that speaks to the particular pain of his experience: The need to be constantly on guard that can end up numbing the agitated. “University Street” feels like a lost song from the Clockers soundtrack, mournful but clear-eyed, taking stock of a broken world.