Reach Records presents KB’s highly anticipated debut album: Weight & Glory. The buzz surrounding KB’s album began at Flavor Fest 2008, when Lecrae publicly praised KB and his HGA crew of their passion for Christ. After touring with Lecrae, KB was officially announced as an official Reach Records artist. Earlier this year Lecrae added that KB will be an important figure in the genre comparable the with The Ambassador. In addition to music, KB became the spokesman for the Man-Up series. KB later released his mixtape, ‘Who Is KB?’ Even though his features and singles overshadowed the mixtape, I was left wondering will KB be able to lift the weight of expectations through his music?
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Typically, when I write reviews I let the music stand for itself. I don’t read the booklets included with the music until I start writing and need to reference who produced the track, played on the track, etc. However, when I started listening to Satellite Kite, the first album by Beautiful Eulogy, I was struck with an overwhelming urge to take a look at the digital booklet included. Boy, am I glad I did. Not only are the lyrics for all the songs included in the liner notes, but there’s a brief paragraph written about each song’s origin, composition or meaning. I love getting glimpses, no matter how brief, into the creative processes that different artists go through, and the insights given in the notes allowed me to have an even better understanding of the heart that went into the making of this album.
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Trip Lee and Reach Records deliver his most anticipated album: The Good Life. In early 2011 Trip relocated to Washington, DC. During that stretch of musical silence, Trip Lee was participating in a pastoral internship. Upon hearing the news, I wondered how his new album would sound. With his previous offering, Between Two Worlds, Trip diversified his production and content. The Good Life takes us further in the life of Trip Lee.
KJ-52 is, quite possibly, Christian hip-hop’s most polarizing figure. Some may not like his music or the way he presents it, but if you’re a Christian, it’s hard to argue with his heart for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. His new album’s title, Dangerous, makes it obvious that he’s willing to take risks for that purpose.
As is fairly common on a KJ-52 album, Dangerous is a mixture of styles and techniques. Every song on the album, whether it be rap/rock (“Face Melt”), electropop (“It’s Goin’ Down”), a more traditional hip-hop sound (“Do the Bill Cosby”) or even an adult contemporary sound (“Dangerous”), every song is shot through with the KJ-52 sensibility that’s been there since 7th Avenue and Collaborations. His quirky and self-deprecating sense of humor combines with his particular style of evangelism is the basis of a familiar recipe that will please long-time fans.
It has been two years since Swoope’s last full-length album, ‘The Zoo’ - an album
that brought the artist almost instant recognition in the Christian Hip Hop community.
Swoope releases his sophomore album ‘Wake Up’ on Collision Records, boasting a
certain clarity of thought that, while present on ‘The Zoo’, has been refined like iron ore
for this release.
In 1971, the Funkadelics released Maggot Brain, an album as unity-preaching as it
was genre-bending. The record begins with legendary guitarist Eddie Hazel’s empathetic
guitar solo over a minimal acoustic scale, setting the remainder of the album into a
tailspin of confused life stories.
D-Maub is everyone's favorite feature. He has truly been gifted with the ability to body every work that he steps up to. As far as I can recall, there hasn’t been a feature spot I’ve heard that I haven’t enjoyed from this Cincinnati native. When D gets on a track he is guaranteed to overwhelm listeners with his lyrical prowess. For the sake of “total beat dismantlement” one could refer to him as the Busta Rhymes of Christian Hip-Hop, but he’s truly in a league of his own.
Careful. While music is, by definition ‘an expression of emotion’, we must not be so ignorant as to give such creative leeway to a Christian artist. And God forbid giving it to an entire GROUP of such musicians.
Enter stage left Sho Baraka, Swoope, Suzy Rock, J.R, collectively known as High Society. Their first album, Circa MMXI: The Collective’is as expansive as World Music or a Phil Collins record. In a genre that has pigeon-holed itself as extremely methodical and predictable, High Society has managed to build an album that can easily be listened to from beginning to end. In fact, it would be an injustice to oneself to skip even a single track on this album.
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Twenty-plus years ago, MC Ren and Dr. Dre posited that writing a successful hip hop song was a pretty simple formula: “You’re either talkin’ ‘bout the place to be, who you are, what you got, or about a sucker MC.” I’ve always been irritated by such a simplistic take on one of my favorite art forms. Hip hop is an extremely effective story telling medium, and I was reminded of this as I started digging into Theory Hazit’s latest release, Thr3e.
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Thi’sl is back with his third album, Beautiful Monster. The St. Louis native illuminates on this 16 track album that sin appears to be good but in the end destroys. Thi’sl creates an album that automatically remains on replay. I find myself constantly enjoying the sonic presentation and lyrical delivery.
Thi’sl begins the album with an introspective introduction. The soulful Swoope produced Beautiful Music starts out with “Life can be a monster, that’s why everyday I wake up it’s the one I’m trying to conquer.” Thi’sl goes hard with 3 minutes of verses with no hook over the live instrumentation. The verses set the tone for the project. The introduction is followed by the Geeda produced Let It Knock featuring PRo. The production begins with repeating synth based siren sounds followed by snapping snares and a knocking bass. This song instantly adds a dose of adrenaline to the listening experience. Thi’sl adds that, “they tried to leave me dead out on the block. But I’m here and now I’m about to turn this thing up and let it knock.” PRo contributes his amped styled flow to the song. The fireworks on the JR produced First 48 sets the stage for an amazing look into a real life story. Thi’sl brings a stop and go flow mixed with a raspy and deep vocal tone. His flow fits well with the spooky sounds, army marching feet, stutter snares and hard kicks. The song is a reality check for those that feel that they are immune to the streets.
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As a strong advocate of hip hop, I talk about it quite a bit. Whether I’m conferring with other hip hop heads, or those who are not particular fans, I like to think that my love of great production and strong lyricism is infectious. I like to point out that, at its best, hip hop is modern poetry, and every bit as viable as beat poets like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, or 20th century romantics like Dylan Thomas. If you’re looking for proof of this, look no further.
On their new album, Never Arrive, theBREAX, a hip hop crew/band based in southern California, deliver not only tight beats (featuring live instrumentation) and stirring lyricism, but also an aspect of honest, no-compromises spoken word poetry. Main group members, Ruslan, MicB and Beleaf are all spoken word poets whose work in that vein features in between several tracks on Never Arrive. If this doesn’t sound like your particular brand of soda, wait. In addition to being spoken word poets, they are also quality purveyors of hip hop.
It is very safe to say that men do not have the position & influence in our culture they once had. When Beyonce declared that “girls run the world”, her statement was not met with a drop of opposition. All over the media men are emasculated, from sitcoms to talk shows. Other than ESPN, the voice of men in society has been reduced from a lion’s roar to a slight whisper. Even in hip-hop, the majority of topics that MCs divulge in (i.e.- sex, money, & prestige) are used to garner the attention of women.
If you’ve listened to Christian hip hop for any length of time, chances are you remember, or at least have heard of, Uprok Records. For the uninitiated, Uprok was a hip hop based sub-imprint of Brandon Ebel’s Tooth and Nail records, and was responsible for releasing several landmark Christian hip hop albums, including Tunnel Vision by the Tunnel Rats. The Tunnel Rats were a huge crew, and some of their members had a tendency to get a little bit lost in the shuffle. Luckily, Uprok was good to the Tunnel Rats posse, and put out numerous solo albums from Tunnel Rats crew members. In 2002, one of those albums was Stop the Music by New Breed, a group consisting of brother and sister Macho and Elsie Ortega. Based on that album, and his contributions to Tunnel Vision, I knew that Macho Ortega was someone to watch.
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Rappers aren’t writers! Are they? That’s what most people think. “They just rap there isn’t much depth to them”. But what happens when a rapper realizes there is more to their life than the music they create? That’s where Malice of The Clipse comes in. With a desire for people to see the man behind the music he lays it all on the line in his debut book “Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked”.
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