Of Mics and Men

by Josh the Word

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about

Of Mics and Men is at once homage to the landscape of Josh Smith’s upstate New York upbringing and a 28-minute lyric letter of appreciation to the community that helped him come to be. Backed by Jared Paul’s clever, often cryptic beats, Of Mics and Men is at once full of restlessness and of sweetness, locating Josh Smith in his own process of balancing his fierce love of community in tracks like “Of Mics And Men,” with the home that he’s made in the quietest recesses of himself in “Keys,” where he locates himself, saying: “I’m in the middle writing riddles in the form of raps / live from the eye trying to find where the storm is at.”

Lyrically, Josh Smith’s rhymes are delicate and carefully wound. While he deals with topics ranging from community to relationships to self-knowledge and compassion for the distance between human hearts, his rhymes are uniformly intentional, tight and visually complex. Josh Smith has the quiet courage of P.O.S and the late poet Frank Stanford’s acumen for blurring myth into living. His writing takes cues equally from the musical poetics of Yusef Komunyaaka and from flawless carpenters of the spit verse like Atmosphere and Aesop Rock.

“Book Of” stands out as a glimpse into the logic of the link between Josh Smith’s crew and his process of composition. Central to the album, the track articulates the strength of his ability to rep friendship and interiority and to twist them around in the space made by the beat to see how many ways they can fit together.

The knockout, however, is “Crosses.” Here, the rapper pushes himself to the limits of his firing speed, his delivery sounding singularly urgent. If the strength of Josh Smith’s writing is his ability to speak to the private and the public in each person, then it makes sense that “Crosses” hits like a sacrifice of that balance. In “Crosses,” Smith puts his words to work to reach out and maybe to attempt to heal a little. From these two central tracks, Of Mics and Men, spreads out to the endpoints of its lyric wingspan, a solid debut album from a rapper who has the skill and heart to make his rhymes do the best real work that a rap song can do.

- Davy Knittle, Stethoscope Press, 2010

credits

released September 25, 2010

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Josh Smith wrote the lyrics and rapped a lot.

Jared Paul made the beats and produced, mixed, and mastered it.

Gabe Gordon (keys), Jared Paul (guitar) Nate Mondschein (drums), Louis Russo (bass), Lucy Strother (cello), Katherine Scahill (violin), and Georgia Flaum (viola) played on “Stutter Steps.”

Matt Kalish did the album art.

Thanks to everyone who helped along the way.

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Josh the Word Brooklyn, New York

Josh the Word (Smith) is an emcee who grew up in Woodstock, NY, finding his song somewhere between the fiery swells of the funk era and the powerful lyricism of Minnesota underground hip-hop. He enjoys fat horn lines, hard snares over acoustic guitars, and favors a good house party to a dance club any day. Currently based in Brooklyn, he performs live with his band, The Riot Act. ... more

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Track Name: Keys
We bear wings get flyer than kites
And we share things to bring the fire to life
And we PUSH
Yeah we know what we came for
We all carry keys trying to open the same doors
Track Name: Of Mics and Men
Stay gold, Ponyboy, walk into the sunset...
Track Name: Book Of
Through all the wars you've tried to fight
Tonight it's time to shine a light ON...
Track Name: She
"You can see the stars here" he said...
Track Name: Home (feat. Katherine McDonald)
Living in the light of a slow song
Quiver in the night but you're so strong
We rise up, keep your eyes up
Rhythm if it's right where the roads roam
We gotta find our way home...
Track Name: When the Night Ends (feat. Lucy Strother)
We hope that our paths like to cross
And we smoke night blunts on Foss
And we cope with the stress and the shudders
And when the night ends we fall into each other