Inspirational, motivational and positive hip-hop and soul music often can draw eye-rolls as being corny or overly preachy. In many cases these presumptions are correct, and even worse so, artists use their positivity as a Band-Aid to cover up the deficiencies in the quality of their music. Among those to buck that trend is Sean C. Johnson with his latest release “Mountains,” a track from his upcoming project, CIRCA1993.
Always soulful, Johnson’s vocals show his ability to nimbly handle both neo-soul and spirituals, as he blends a hip-hop soul beat with the chorus of “Rough Side of the Mountain,” the classic spiritual by Faircloth Barnes. “Mountains” has a motivational message, but not in an overly simplistic way. Rather, it’s very in touch with the distress, pain and bewilderment people have when they are reaching out to God in the midst of trouble. Johnson’s writing style and ability to convey authentic emotion through his vocals make topics that might otherwise be polarizing remarkably accessible.
Johnson is equally as effective as a lyricist, pensively discussing with God the pressures of life’s tribulations, concluding that it’s necessary for people to re-frame their personal battles in order to deal with them, viewing them as situations designed to produce personal growth. He concludes the track with a beautiful guitar solo, reminiscent of jazz-soul great George Benson.
Need a little bit of encouragement to get through the week? You can listen to and download "Mountains" for free on Bandcamp.