Just Archie and A-Rock have more than “Just Arrived”
This article was originally published in the May, 2017 edition of Veer Magazine. Josh is an Urban Music Reporter for Veer Magazine and Editorial Assistant for Hometown News Brevard. He also provides promotional web content for ItsJustArchie.com
A departure from their sophomore album “Made in Virginia”, Norfolk natives Archie “Just Archie” Boone Jr. and Anthony “A-Rock” Dasupa’s third album “Just Arrived” showcases the duo’s authentic and creative hip-hop mixes and rhymes. “Just Arrived” features tracks that build off their combined conveyance of an attention to the details of producing a sound befitting of contemporary hip-hop while also addressing issues of race, society and family.
“It started with one song, then two songs, then three, four and five and I just said ‘Hey, we need to just put another album out’,” A-Rock said. “We started doing songs sparingly because we weren’t in a rush to do another album. We were still on ‘Made in Virginia: The Gold Edition’.”
A-Rock used influences behind the selections of beats on the album from other artists he’d been listening to at the time.
“Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Drake, a lot of J. Cole, some of the new Rick Ross stuff and I’m noticing a lot of the music now doesn’t have a lot of instrumentation in it,” A-Rock said. “The beats are straightforward, it doesn’t have a lot of sound, it doesn’t have a lot going on. On this album I kind of dumbed it down.”
As with their previous albums, Just Archie’s lyrical prowess served as the catalyst for “Just Arrived”; an album that can be considered five years in the making. For Archie, the road to making this album stretches far and wide, with lyrics that were conceived from ideas as far back as 1983.
“Before writing, I reflect as far back as I can remember. I reach for the meaningful interactions with everyone I come in contact with,” Archie said. “I develop connections with all people because I see each and every encounter as a cross-cultural experience. So, therefore, each song of “Just Arrived” is a letter to a recipient that’s framed in a year of my life.”
The album features A-Rock’s musical dexterity to mix and produce a cleaner, crisper sound to back the flow of rhymes. Although most tracks on “Just Arrived” follows the old adage that if it’s not broke – don’t fix it, the sound produced by the duo remains distinct and separate from contemporary hip-hop.
“He’s been growing, I’ve been growing…and it’s really been uncomfortable, but there’s been a sweet spot where I’ve learned to trust him and he’s working with the artist who he believed in from when he first met me in 2009,” Archie said.
Archie’s ability to adapt his lyrics to alternate beats is chameleonlike. A talent that went a long way in the production process.
“When I wrote these songs, I had a whole other batch of beats from him. [A-Rock] always encouraged me not to get committed with anything that you hear because it could change at any time.” Archie said. “You know me, that’s been my story of life.”
But the is more than just another example of the two’s ability to collaborate successfully.
It is a story. One told through the words and feelings of Archie with a lyrical representation of his personal growth and philosophical insight. It’s broken into three distinct parts: The Manifesto, The Male, and The Man. The first contains tracks centered around life as a black man. The second is a collection of songs that were inspired by struggles Archie endured while learning to become a man, and the third delivering on that outcome of the kind of man he is and what he stands for.
Both believe the album to be their best so far, crediting their desire to outdo themselves musically in order to maintain a sound that audiences would find simplified yet still laced with enough additional improvements over previous work.
“They’re going to see we’ve stepped our game up. People are going to see we’re here to make a point,” A-Rock said.
Examples of A-Rock’s ability to produce an easy flow track with synchronized drum beats and background vocals is “Like It or Love It”. The track opens with:
“I’m planning career suicide before the industry gets the tendency to bury my vibes/Read the source of the force is the people’s choice/Is of course another voice rejoicing to leave the porch.”
Much of Archie’s life and depictions of his representation of how the world is, both at large and for him personally versus how it ought to be, are prevalent in songs like “Animal” and “Pure Dope”. He considers his lyrics letters to different institutions, people, even himself. Where the former directs most of its attentions to lawmakers and society’s legislators, the latter acts as a letter of confession and an introspective callback.
“When I was young to the woods, I would carry ladies. Nothing romantic just antics then they would call me later. It was a game that would change how I raise my babies.”
Social issues surrounding race and equality are just as relevant now as they were when Archie wrote them. “Too Far” balances lyrics lamenting over the police shootings involving black men in recent years with the words of journalist Marc Lamont Hill embedded within the beats describing the outrage within black culture as a result.
“I was having this experience about the whole Freddy Gray situation in the city of Baltimore before a particular riot [started] and I kind of got an out of body experience while I was there. It was like I was sent to Baltimore to get a taste of what our nation was going through,” Archie said.
Archie’s lyrics provoke an attitude of transformation not only within himself but to a community and society at large. Many of the tracks are narrations of a larger story of personal experiences Archie has either seen or experienced firsthand. “Fire” can be an anthem with a celebratory melody of Archie’s own presence to fans and listeners, but it too takes on the hypocritical nature of laws and who they serve. Although never boastful, Archie conveys a sense of openness and transparency in the messages he delivers.
The album chronicles a personal story making it more of a culmination of Archie’s lyrical expansion than previous releases. The songs, although written at different times and in different mindsets, share not only a personal message, but a universally relatable one; making “Just Arrived” more poignant.
“This is the album that I set out to write,” Archie said “Using the music I know. The music I love.”