It seemed as if the sun wouldn’t rise on tomorrow for Jermaine “Maino” Coleman. The Brooklyn rhyme-slinger, who released his well-received debut If Tomorrow Comes… in 2009, endured his share of setbacks on the road to his follow-up album’s arrival. Swings to duplicate the success of prior hits (“All the Above,” “Hi Hater”) and project pushbacks made the light of a new day seem distant. But persistence proved to be the prescription, and more than two-and-a-half years removed from his debut, Maino won’t relinquish the rare opportunity to continue telling his story on his second studio album, The Day After Tomorrow.
Building on the initial rags-to-riches tale of If Tomorrow Comes…, the Bed-Stuy product’s latest offering finds him attempting to balance the pros and cons of his newfound success. “Why I’m feeling like it was simpler when we was poor,” he contemplates on the album’s enduring opener, “Never Gon’ Stop.” Here, Maino hashes out the album’s central theme, rolling seemingly dueling emotions of triumph and struggle into one.
He’s still serving up the quality street shit that has become his forte (the polished grime of “Gangstas Ain’t Dead” shines), but Maino also indulges in increased introspection this time around. On the powerful gem “Need a Way Out,” the hard-body MC chronicles three separate stages of his life, starting from being a troubled young’n that dives into the brass tacks of the streets, to landing in prison, to ultimately dealing with becoming a rapper.
The album creates the narrative arc that any cohesive story should: The beginning is followed by an energetically rising midpoint (singles “Cream” and “Let It Fly”), before easing into a conclusion with bombastic bangers that seamlessly weave doubt (“Heaven for a G”), confidence (“Messiah”) and appreciation (“Day After Tomorrow”) into a finale.
Pacing the tale is the album’s production, which matches Maino’s character as a lyricist in its efficiency without complexity. To complement dancing keys and jumping synths, determined drums help guide the rapper’s hardened approach yet don’t become overbearing. The result allows Maino and his beats to breathe in unison.
Despite his gripes with fame, Maino’s second-chapter tale is no sob story. Rather than a dismissal of success, it’s a focused celebration about the opportunity to enjoy life, which, as a kid from the street, he’s seen can be all too elusive. From high-spirited tracks like the ambitious “Unstoppable” to the gratitude of “Glad to Be Alive,” Maino’s tale has progressed, informed by the perspective of time and experience. What remains the same is his resilience.
The Day After Tomorrow proves to be one to remember. —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)