Reviewed by Andrew Midgley
Promise, aka Jason Jamal Shepherd, loves playing Monopoly and spending time with his family, giving him a paternal perspective that informs the themes on 'TellAVision'. The EP is about "stories media tells and the impressions they make on people in our youth", says Shepherd, whose desire is to supplant such cultural ephemera with "the truth that everyone is uniquely created . be true to who you are. Don't fall into the lies and deceptions of society nor the trends of the world, but be true to who you were created to be." Though this sounds a bit like chicken soup for the soul, Shepherd is far more than vapid inspirational quotes. His "unmatched work-ethic" - praise from fellow Toronto rapper Drake, no less - comes across in his attention to style as well as content: A succession of delightful earworm loops provide a kind of trademark, from the pogoing riff on "Why Don't You" to "Alleyway"'s guitar sample, and despite its brevity, the number of collaborators on 'TellAVision' represent hours of fruitful networking. "I'm barely rapping on it," Promise told Rapzilla.com. "A lot of people don't know that I've written more songs than raps over the years." One rap friend to present Shepherd's material is Montell Jordan, who on album closer "Who You Are" cannot resist a cheeky reprise of his career-defining 1995 hit "This Is How We Do It", but the rest of Promise's guests rise above such showboating. Standout track "Right Now" - a mix of snap-snare and globular bass - presses the EP's message of ignoring cultural labels, and by its close 'TellAVision' has succeeded in two softly-sold aims - to sow doubts about image-worship and Epicurean hedonism ("Where do we come from/Where do we go/How can you live life/If you don't know?" Da' T.R.U.T.H. sings on "Cliches And Trends"), and to signpost the One who is truly worthy of worship. "A king's work is the service of his servants", Jon Hope sagely points out on "Alleyway". Well put.
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