As various histories of hip-hop are written over the next few decades, Mike Jones (whose Wikipedia page is worth preserving mainly because it is so badly written) may not go down as a gimmick, but he will be a minor figure. The Houston MC’s goofy, monotonous flow is forgettable, and his fondness for rapping about pre-wealth difficulties with women and blurting his actual phone number into tracks doesn’t make him seem very cool either. The best work he ever did was carried along by Slim Thug’s grumbling presence and got even better when Diplo (whose work was surfacing nationally in 2004/2005) took hold of it for a remix to which, unfortunately, I can’t legally construct a link.
But like Mike Jones would say, MIKE JONES! MIKE JONES! Dude left me with several songs I keep on the iPod for exercise, including this 2005 single, “5 Years From Now,” which features a vanished background singer named Lil’ Bran. Affable and earnest, Jones’s flow on the track tip-toes a simple beat with tidy couplets; my favorite part starts around 2:50, when the keyboards disappear, the beat seems to hitch, and MJ contemplates fatherhood, prison, mortality, and fame.
I don’t mean “favorite” ironically. Even if Jones is a mid-2000s half-paragraph, this track is fun, kind-hearted, and urgent, which aren’t the worst qualities in the world.