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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Student lays down his life on the beats and tracks

Much of what makes an artist’s project solid lies within its replay value.

The 15-track “Mind of a Runner” mixtape performed by rapper Fault’r — also known as petroleum engineering junior Justin Ruiz — is a grand example. Sponsored by Coast 2 Coast Mixtape Promotions, “Mind Of A Runner” marks Ruiz’s first mixtape and is now available for download at

Some songs ride along the railings of an emotional and inspiring rollercoaster while others delve deep into the personal life of a son whose father left him at a young age.

Although some tracks are deeply rooted in hip-hop with sample-based production, “Mind of a Runner” also harbors a pop vibe. For casual listeners and hip-hop heads alike, this mixture is a smart move that makes the project accessible for everyone.

Tracks like “I’ll Go” and “Who I Am” have great radio potential as they bring simple yet moving lyrics that talk about overcoming odds and working hard to achieve a certain goal. Even the hooks are used pretty well, but that’s only when someone else is singing.

When Ruiz does sing, it gets cheesy and makes some songs drag on. “Venting,” describing Ruiz’s life falling apart around him and his struggle to overcome it, has more singing than verses and his voice nearly moves off pitch in some instances.

The only times when his voice fits are in two sentimental, Drake-esque tracks. With impressive wavy and airy instrumental production, “Works Out” and “It’s Been a While” help soothingly carry his voice along. The messages of these tracks — his former dealing with hardship and the latter dealing with a ex-lover — help listeners grasp Ruiz’s personality.

On some tracks, the beats sound like they haven’t had proper leasing procedures, hence the watermark tags that appear throughout them. These tags, which appear excessively, ruin the experience of “Last Year” and “Goodbye” and make them skippable tracks.

Ruiz’s lyricism also suffers especially in the title track. Presented second-to-last, “Mind of a Runner” is arguably the best track, which is backed by its super producer, Johnny Juliano. However, “Mind of a Runner” has downsides with its lyrics and overall polish.

Ruiz has a knack for composing nice-sounding rhymes, but they aren’t groundbreaking. Verses like “Some of ya’ll living just to count dead presidents / I think it’s evident — money is irrelevant / ‘Cause when you die, all that money isn’t heaven sent / so what you counting for? For the heck of it?” are just too simple, especially when the two guest emcees, Jay Derell and Chris Conely knock it out of the ballpark.

Understandably, his safe rhymes can incite emotion in listeners and help tell a story, such as the case with “Sins of My Father” which hints at the fight against alcoholism.

Without a doubt, “Mind Of A Runner” is a stellar effort from beginning to end. While the polish could be better, Ruiz’s choice in beat selection and his tapping into a bank of emotional lyrics deem this project a worthy re-listen.

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