MC Jin, a Chinese American rapper and songwriter, was born Jin Au-Yeung in Miami Florida. After spending years living in New York, he decided to move to Hong Kong, where he learned to speak Cantonese, though he eventually decided to move back to New York during the summer of 2012.
From 2002 through 2005 Jin was part of Ruff Ryders. His first single as part of the group was entitled “Learn Chinese,” which never achieved much major mainstream success. Still, he released his first solo album in October of 2004 and it reached number 54 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. Apparently, Jin was frustrated that it didn’t chart higher, as he decided he was going to take an indefinite hiatus from rap music during May of 2005. To show just how serious he was about that, he released a final single entitled “I Quit.” But he failed to stay out of the rap game for very long, making a comeback using the name The Emcee and freestyling over such songs as Jay-Z’s “Dear Summer.” On October 25, 2005 he released his second solo album entitled The Emcee’s Properganda. He’s been collaborating with a variety of other artists and releasing solo material ever since. On August 8, 2011 he released a Cantonese album called “Homecoming” in Hong Kong.
Since becoming a born again Christian in 2009, Jin has amassed a large Christian fanbase, though he’s continued to grow in popularity among other music fans as well. He no longer goes by The Emcee and is back to releasing music as MC Jin.
Brand New Me opens with the title track, which blends flourishes of synth with hard, up-tempo hip-hop beats. “You might not recognize me, but guess what that don’t even surprise me,” he raps. “Lately I been through so much, but as you can see I ain’t lose my touch.” OK, so those lyrics aren’t grammatically correct, but they flow quite well when he spits them out. “I’m brand new, I’m brand new, I’m brand new,” he raps repeatedly, making it obvious that he’s turning over a new leaf.
“Going Places” begins with guest Christina K singing a velvety smooth, R&B style chorus over dark synth and gloomy beats. It sounds like something that could have been on Eminem’s Recovery album. “I swear my life is like I’m living inside of a dream,” Jin raps over the ominous music. “There are places you can’t be found, I’m going places, I’m going places,” Christina sings, calling to mind R&B singer du jour Dawn Richards. “When they try to stop you, that’s when you know you going places,” Jin adds, summing up the song’s meaning perfectly.
“Number 1” opens with guest ZG delivering a fine R&B hook. “She’s my number one, only one,” he sings. “See, I’m done with zeroes, the ones that came before you,” Jin raps over the synth-heavy, punchy music. While the lyrics are rather upbeat, the song’s music is slightly dark.
The chorus of “Apology” is performed by singer Joseph Vincent. “Here’s a new me, I meant no harm, and I’m sorry for all the things I’ve done,” he sings with a voice that sounds like it would be right at home in a church choir. Jin spends the song apologizing not only for things he’s done but things other guys have done. “I used to be a player, guys I know you feel me, when my wife hears this, she probably gonna kill me.”
Christina K also appears on “State Of Mind,” singing “I don’t want to leave, don’t want to leave it behind.” Jin raps about The Matrix, the truth and change. His change, in particular. He goes on about not trusting the government and that sort of thing. It’s hard to take it seriously until late in the song when he raps, “ever since I made the decision to publicly proclaim my love and faith for God things haven’t been the same.” “Some call it Christian rap but there’s something missing to it, I mean, I don’t just want Christians to listen to it,” he vents a few lines later.
The mini-album concludes with the celebratory, upbeat “Feel Good” featuring Toestah and Joseph Vincent. It’s easily the catchiest song here with its enticing melody and uppity beats. It’s very positive lyrically as well, ending things on an optimistic note. “If you feel good, I feel great,” Jin raps as the song ends.