by Resolution Records
Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson – TrueMendous (2021) – Review
TrueMendous is quite possibly the hardest-working woman in hip-hop. After years of eight and nine hour days busking on the streets of her native Birmingham, and That London, and with several promise-filled mix-tapes to her name, she became part of Queens Of Art, a groundbreaking, all-female, ensemble UK tour, as well as being featured in both FIFA 21 (a rite of passage for any up-and-coming UK MC) and the Adidas COLD.RDY playlist.
Even more prestigiously, she has also been seen heading up TV advertising campaigns for Pepsi Max, McVities and Subway. Since signing to High Focus in 2020, TrueMendous has been taking the underground U.K. hip-hop scene by storm; hailed as ‘one to watch out for’ by Akil The MC from Jurassic 5, and included on the influential Ministry of Sound Made In The UK playlist, alongside Ghetts, Stormzy, Fredo and Slow Thai.
With all that under her belt, Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson is set to announce her entrance onto the main stage of the scene. Despite being from different parts of the country, the cadence and introspection of Misdiagnosis leads to reminders of Little Simz’ 2019 smash GREY Area. However, it’s apparent from the off that this album is a totally different, wilder animal and the title alone, a tribute to one of the greatest long-players of all time, leaves one in no doubt about the ambition at play. Moreover, the conceptual angle is reminiscent of Genesis Owusu’s Smiling With No Teeth LP from earlier this year, but while Owusu wore his influences a bit too much on his sleeve, TrueMendous manages to be a true original.
Kicking things off is Cause A Scene, with overwhelmingly bassed-up production and almost DMX-levels of intensity on the mic. TrueMendous couldn’t possibly make a more explosive first impression. Worst Child demonstrates the rapper’s self-reflective nature - featuring Brummie vocalist Rozz, who adds a soulful element to the enthralling, Illinformed-produced hip hop backdrop.
Y includes a hard-hitting verse from another Birmingham-based MC, Kofi Stone, who’s feature is unusually relevant to the rest of the song. Tracks like Browkee and You Don’t Like Me Because are definite highlights, with notably great lyrical moments. Nevertheless, the diamond in Misdiagnosis’ crown is Mood Ring. With a bouncy, jazzy instrumental, TrueMendous is flexing her skills, beaming character and colour on the mic, as well as boasting a killer hook. Mark my words, this will be soundtracking my Covid-free summer for sure.
Coming in at an hour and twenty minutes, Misdiagnosis has moments where the content is not attention-grabbing enough to back it up, but such moments are few and far between. Lyrical themes include toxic family and relationship dynamics, self-empowerment, sexuality and lack of critical appreciation. Her performance, if not wholly consistent, is charmingly headstrong and contains flashes of absolute brilliance.
All in all, this is an impressive album, if not totally jaw-dropping. Despite its limited highs not demanding such a lengthy run-time, they are, nonetheless, very high indeed, as the MC steals the show with her charismatic delivery and deft hook-crafting skills. Overall, Misdiagnosis of Chyvonne Johnson is a vibrant and worthwhile debut.