Freestyling is a mental test more than anything else. You need to find words that that rhyme in a pattern, right now, and say them right now. And if you’ve ever tried it before you’ll notice you’ll get locked up in a couple bars not because you’re tongue tied but because you can’t think of a word that rhymes with purple. You’ll also notice your rhymes are scattered, shallow and straightforward. Freestylers aren’t busting out stories and double entendres as their minds are racing to the next rhyme.
Junk is a freestyler at heart and a brilliant one at that. He’s Vancouver’s four-time Rent Money freestyle winner and the 2011 Canadian National champion of the End Of The Weak. There’s no doubting his ability to put rhymes in flexible and unique patterns but his music suffers from the same thing that makes an excellent freestyler.
Mechanically, Junk is impeccable on Together in Pieces 3. Junk shifts gears à la James Harden by drifting between staccato flows and buttery verbose lines multiple times per track. It’s a proof of concept that he can rap over anything from Mason Rex’s eerie Dark Souls piano of ‘Everything’ to the airy and atmospheric ‘Ybbibr‘ but Junk never moves beyond that.
Together in Pieces 3 is a meta flex. Regardless of what the songs are about (they’re mostly about money) it’s a display of technical skill rather than superior songwriting. Each word fits together like puzzle pieces, but they form Petit Collages not Ravenburgers.
Instead TIP 3 is light on any wordplay other than similes like “Sick of you ABC rappers, y’all like hepatitis” and “She can drive 16 bars like four KitKats.” Junk thinks he’s a wordsmith because “They say to me dumb it down” on ‘Cool in Real Life‘ but when he drops lines like “Had to move around a few trees like it’s lights on Christmas” it’s hard to take him seriously as a lyricist. Like a freestyle, Junk jumps between shallow puddles but masks it with an air of complexity.
That air evaporates when the hook comes around revealing Junk at his best, straightforward and simplistic. Junk’s repetitive rapid-fire hooks feature few words but etch themselves to memory after first listen. They serve as a fun reprieve from Junk’s winding flows and give a glimpse into what Junk could be if he streamlined his songs.
Being a good rapper is more than mechanical proficiency. Junk can rap, he has the accolades to prove it, but we’re past that now. His reluctance to embrace simplicity and his lack of overall complexity make Together in Pieces 3 a EP filled with empty calories presented as lyrical lemonade.