Album Review: Paloalto and JUSTHIS – 4 The Youth (South Korea, 2018)

Rather than just speaking about their personal experiences with youth, with the help of 29 collaborators on 22 songs, the two create a hip hop album that speaks to the many facets of youth.

Coming from JUSTHIS’ 2016 debut, 2 Many Homes 4 1 Kid, 4 The Youth’s lighter and less traditional boom bap beats are new territory for the underground talent. Yet for Hi-Lite Records CEO and one time Show Me The Money judge, Paloalto, after almost a decade and a half of switching beats, this is just business as usual. But regardless of what beats the two were rapping on before, both effortless rap to match the changing styles of this album.  

Naturally we get a taste of their customary styles; Paloalto with his melodic, laid-back style, and JUSTHIS with his sharp, lighting fast one. Yet, throughout the album, both also take on other styles, matching each other’s flow or even providing the contrast.

Beats also switch throughout the album; moving from house on ‘I Like It’, to grime on ‘Wayne’, to trap on ‘Slump’ and ‘F*ck Out My Face’, to a lush RnB influenced style that is carried throughout the remainder of album.

Still, while the album’s production and rap shifts styles constantly, its progression is not overwhelming or jarring. Thanks to the ordering, the tracks flow well, giving the album a distinct rise and flow. Having 22 tracks helps with this too, providing extra wiggle room for transitions.

But even with 22 tracks, the album doesn’t drag out. Instead, it lends itself to representing the changing and diverse nature of what it is to be a young person.

The dealings of young people are spelt out more obviously, of course, in the lyrics. Paloalto and JUSTHIS deal with rudimentary youth issues like love and desire. But they don’t stop there. The most prominent, albeit ambitious, theme is the realisation that young people have the power to change the world.

While there is no clear narrative throughout the entire album, this realisation is embodied perfectly in a sequence of three songs in the middle of the album. Starting with ‘Slump’, a song about individual desire, it transitions to ‘Slump (Interlude)’ which centres on a snippet from 2015 film American Hero where a man realises he has the power to do good. What comes out on the other side is ‘Next One’, an uplifting track about collective empowerment and change.

All the elements of 4 The Youth, from the production, to the lyrics, to the rap style don’t represent an individuals’ point of view. Instead, everything unites to represent a collective, that is, youth and the diversity that comes with them.

On 4 The Youth Paloalto and Justhis don’t just represent what it’s like to be a young person. Through a tirade of styles, genres and themes, the two speak to the youth of our generation and call on them to take action for the sake of a collective future.

4 The Youth is available to buy on iTunes and stream on Spotify now.