Jounin N1¥ strikes a balance between rough-edged rage and total serenity with a wide range of musical expressions.
“I know it’s painful to see the ones you love struggle, not as strong as I was before” croons rapper – singer – producer Jounin N1¥ on “Perfect”. Whilst the lyrics oppose the title entirely, their presentation is sublime; the slightest reverb drags each line into the next, and an echo on the vocal track adds to the psychedelic drift of the song. The autotune now typical to nearly all genres is present but wonderfully utilised and divinely mixed. Jounin’s vocals here are not as fluid as, say, Mixed Matches’, but they are not nearly as rough as those of Summrs or Autumn!. Slight dips and shakes in the performance are left in to great effect as Jounin sings about the pressure of needing to be more than is possible; “In the next life I’ll be perfect…” is poignant, a wish that many can relate to. With each lyric that Jounin uses to push himself down, the listener becomes lighter and lighter, and as the first minute of the song passes into the second the feeling achieved is like flight.
It’s fitting, then, that Jounin N1¥’s latest song, “How am I Alive Tonight?!?” brings the audience crashing down to his level. The bass hits like an auditory shotgun, unfiltered synths ripping through the mix to nullify the listener’s distractions. Jounin’s performance ranges from demonic monologues to a confident and calm delivery accentuated with growled whispers. Pitch correction struggles to keep the delivery stable as singing merges with rapping. However, stability is clearly not the focus, as evidenced in the direct lyrics; “…thinking I’m a drug addict, I know I’ve got destructive habits”. Though much of Jounin’s lyrical content centres on feelings of self-doubt, “How am I Alive” elevates this recklessly to self-hatred, raising the tension and excitement of the song. The title is repeated in the hook with snide vigour, there’s abject disbelief at the world for allowing Jounin’s personal existence – it’s enough to make a person hope that these lyrics are exaggerated. On that same note, “How am I Alive” pushes the listeners belief in Jounin’s persona further than perhaps any other song due to its extremity of emotion; it’s the context of Jounin’s other music which stops this track becoming a piece of melodrama.
Thankfully the rest of the Jounin N1¥ discography is very much invested in building this persona to ease the listener’s immersion. “let me die n sleep forever” is a showcase of Jounin as a rapper; he slurs bars through a murky mix of echoed synth leads. The line “Aren’t I just fucked up?” compliments the artwork, an image of Jounin collapsed and clutching a bottle, very well. The lyrics still aren’t overly complex but the piece demonstrates Jounin’s ability to curate a sound and use flow to advantageous effect. His talent shines in creating a mood, the vocabulary and beat are well chosen to create a drunken haze. “I’m going down, oh God, on angel wings can’t she hear me now?” is a poetic line hidden across a couple of bars towards the end of the song, a vulnerable moment which draws the listener closer to Jounin’s thoughts. It’s a moment with emotional weight that cuts through the haze of the rest of the song.
Jounin N1¥’s voiced catalogue is strong, but there’s also “Just leave and let me Dream”, a playlist of two instrumentals. The disquieting hum of “Maybe Why I’m Numb” is perfectly accompanied by reversed cymbals and vocal samples. The atmosphere is ghostly, the tempo slow and driving until the high melody comes into play. The track explodes into colour for a brief moment, the tension returns, and the cycle continues. It is one of Jounin’s most powerful displays of repetition and cycles as a concept despite not even having any lyrics. With the song “Spare Parts and Broken Hearts”, he raps over “Maybe Why I’m Numb” alongside Tmart (an alter ego of Jounin) to further project his identity onto the music.
“Feels like a Summer Banger Relationship”, the second song on “Just leave and let me Dream”, is a break in terms of genre and mood. “Summer Banger” is just that; full, pulsating synth leads ride atop pads and lively percussion to evoke synthpop. The main riff is intoxicating, luminous and vibrant, and the lift in mood is welcome amongst the chained-down sadness of most of Jounin’s work.
It’s “26 (Not Making)” that shines brightest amongst all of Jounin’s work. It’s the core of his discography and his most popular song of the last year. As a musical artist much of Jounin’s identity is based around the desire to not exist. “26” solidifies this identity by linking to much of Jounin’s other work. “All the silence, when they fucking leave you’re supposed to just get over it” portrays songwriting as a way to fill the void caused by loss, and recalls “Perfect” through its focus on external pressures. “Got a feeling I ain’t making 26” foreshadows the frustration of “How am I Alive”. The production from Jounin and Steve Brown is full of ethereal ringing guitar notes. Percussion reverberates softly through the upper levels of the mix. As the instrumentation fades into a single gorgeous synth line Jounin enters with “Wasn’t the same once you left, won’t be the same once I’m gone”. He talks of the pain he “will cause”. These lines are not just the clearest expressions of thought in Jounin’s discography, they are an explicit representation of his musical identity.
Though “26” is a song with themes of depression and suicide, hope is still present. The use of the future tense gives a window of opportunity to make things right, the uncertainty of the lyric “Got a feeling” projects only thoughts of death, not plans. In contrast to “How am I Alive Tonight?!?”, in the world of “26” there’s enough time to turn things around.
The music of Jounin N1¥ is a varied clutter held together by threads of sadness and the need for something greater, but moments of greatness are shining through already. As he develops further there’s no predicting what surprises Jounin will share next.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)