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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.
These issues bring up the question, “do males today even know what it takes to be a man”? Using the standard of Christ being the Man of all men, Reach Records presents “Man Up”; a CD/DVD combination that features a short film, seven-track EP, a tour, & a small group curriculum to tie it all together. The EP consists of six characteristics that men should exemplify, as well as areas of adversity; “Authority”, “Responsibility”, “Envy”, “Courage”, “Temptation” & “Repentance”. Lecrae, KB, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Sho Baraka, PRo, & Andy Mineo provide the mouthpiece that tackles each subject through confrontation, wisdom & grace.
The movie is what really ties everything together. The story revolves around a kid named Brian (played by Anthony "One" Moonie), who spends the summer with his older brother before heading off to college. While Brian seems to be a good kid, he’s easily influenced & ends up in situations where he’s forced to deal with the six subjects 116 address on the EP. While some scenes are over-acted, the movie is realistic to a degree & while it may not solve every issue directly by the film’s end, it does create a healthy dialogue for the viewers. Small groups will be able to go even deeper when the movie & EP are coupled with the curriculum. The curriculum consists of six very short monologues where the crew goes in depth with the six topics. Overall the presentation for “Man Up” is solid & the opportunity for ministry is obviously apparent. The 116 boys even make appearances in the film, with Lecrae playing "King", a Christian MC who recently moved into the neighborhood & J'son playing "Rich", the neighborhood drug dealer who Brian eventually crosses path with. (On a side note, I’d like someone to count how many times the word “bruh” was used in the film.)
Sonically, you’re going to get what you expect from a 116 release. Anthem like beats, catchy hooks & impressive flows. However, the lyrical content left a little to be desired, especially in contrast to the curriculum. Although the issue of manhood is very sensitive, they seemed to play it safe. I would’ve liked to hear them really divulge into their personal struggles as men. I’m a firm believer that ministry is better when you are able to incorporate yourself into it. I did however, appreciate that there was a topical balance between highs & lows that men face & must be accountable for. The record that does this the best is the EP's closer "Repentance". The track actually sounds like it's repenting, believe it or not. Sometimes the instrumentation speaks just as loud as the artist & this is a prime example of such. The album's opener "Man Up Anthem", should echo throughout Wembley Stadium, inspiring a sea of men ready to change the complexion of an entire gender. The most interesting track is "Envy". Kudos to Dirty Rice, as not since the days of Kid N Play's House Party had I heard "Anything You Can Do" flipped that creatively. I guarantee you'll hear a little girl singing in your head he next time you deal with envy on a personal level. All in all the CD by itself would not have been enough; however, the movie & curriculum fill in the holes from the music. Working together to effectively communicate their message.
If you are well versed in the ways of the 116, you know what you’re going to get from this project & for the most part, you should be pleased. This can also serve as a great lead-in to youth groups or even teens in your home & community. I would even encourage women to participate, as “Man Up” offers a genuine contrast to the worldview of the makings of a man. While in no way could this solve all of the issues of men alone, it definitely serves as a starting block. Man Up indeed.
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Label: Reach Records
Buy on iTunes
1. Man Up Anthem feat. Lecrae, KB, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Sho Baraka, PRo, and Andy Mineo
2. Authority feat. Lecrae, Tedashii, PRo, and KB
3. Responsibility feat. Sho Baraka, Trip Lee, PRo, Lecrae, and Tedashii
4. Envy feat. Tedashii, Andy Mineo and KB
5. Courage feat. Sho Baraka, Lecrae, Trip Lee and PRo
6. Temptation feat. Andy Mineo, KB, PRo and Tedashii
7. Repentance feat. Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo
Pick up 'Man Up' CD/DVD Combo at Target today for only $9.99!