Surviving in the hood is tough. Achieving success within it is infinitely tougher. How does one cope?

For 20-year old rapper Topaz Jones, creating music is his outlet. His latest release “Coping Mechanism” is a gripping, cinematic visual that he directed along with filmmakers Simon Davis and Jason Sondock. In the video, Topaz speaks on his unwavering will to create and insists on using music as a vehicle to illuminate issues while on his path to success. As he raps, a tribal fight scene symbolically mirrors the struggles that he addresses in the song.

The self-produced beat, a propulsive, driving kick behind an entrancing vocal sample guides us on a journey as he impressively maneuvers through flows along the track’s movements. During the crescendo, he raps about his aspirations then replaces the drums with a pulsing, heartbeat to set the tone for his monologue. Harsh realities such as gang violence and black-on-black crime are addressed with lines like “It’s bloods and crips, they wearin’ blue and red / and when they get together, they just do the work of the confederates." He’s able to provide social commentary without sounding preachy; side-stepping the dilemma which often faults "conscious" rap.

With this as the first release, Topaz’s upcoming project, The Honeymoon Suite, is surely one to be anticipated.—B. Robinson