Reviews - D to E (19 reviews, February 2019)
Please note that the reviews are ordered by Artist first name..
Please note if you see any of these reviews elsewhere, it is because I have done the reviews for others (Cross Rhythms). The reviews on these pages are my full reviews.
D7 – ‘Dimension 7’
Coming out of Brixton, South London, D7 brings an album full of his life, family, beliefs, background, social issues (“Catacombs” ft Washington) and his faith. Using his MPC and other software and throwing in some classic influences, D7 brings some seriously sweet mainly boom bap and old skool breaks and production that are short and sweet. On the mic, D7 has a ruggedly smooth and engaging flow, with some vocal hooks (“Real Feel”). The title track instantly draws you over a string-filled soundscape as D7 welcomes us on board. Throughout the project, Soloman Gehazi guests and drops a number of quality rolling verses – the standout and perceptive “Stay Focused” and the boom bap “State of Mind” being examples – “They took God out of school and said you don’t need to pray, then the wonder why the kids going the wrong way…” There’s a hint of r&b and soul in “My Peoples” but overall the vibe is rolling boom bap atmospheric beats and tunes with inspiring, Kingdom-pointing and challenging… “Is what’s real, really real…? Think about it…” (“I Know”).
D7 Remnant Muzic – ‘9 Till 7 The Grind’
Describing the project as “Boom bap 90s style hiphop”, the guys at Remnant Muzik have come up with exactly that. Working together doing it for God (“We doin it”) are D7 and others like Soloman Gehazi, Sheziah, Radical and Matt D. As a UK based collective (from Wolverhampton to London and beyond), it’s refreshing to hear old skool breaks with British emcees flowing. Throughout the boom-bap keeps flowing, with the head-nodding breaks and a generally laid-back style of rapping. Occasionally there seems to be a bit of a mismatch vocals and backing track (“So short”) but because there’s a real feel of ‘vinyl’ about the album, this may well be intentional – reflecting the early days of hip-hop. There are also some standout beats and tracks like “Real recognise real” which is truly reminiscent of hip-hop back in the day before commercialism superseded content in the rap industry. Overall this is solid, God-centred and just a hint at the good tunes and increased production now flowing from Remnant Muzic.
Da Truth & Friends – Live (DVD)
Outstanding camera work, editing, visuals and music production come together to produce a stunning DVD to showcase God and his servant Da Truth. The DVD is advertised as bringing ‘Live Music. High Energy. Intense Worship’ and it does this with aplomb, I was out of my seat jumping around my room within the second track. This hip-hop worship experience features tracks from ‘Moment of Truth’ (with some of the freshest new interpretations and musicianship) - and his latest album, ‘The Faith’. We come into God’s presence through hip-hop, as Da Truth reps Christ to a live jump-up audience, and the freshest and yes electrifying, 5 piece live band and powerful vocalists. As with all goods out of the CM stable, we are directed to Jesus and his Word relevantly and with quality. The DVD also features bonus songs, “Who Am I” music video and an intimate and insightful chat with Da Truth and friends such as Kirk Franklin and the other Cross Movement artists, discussing his ministry and calling. This DVD runs for 137mins and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Get it! Run Time - 137mins.
Da Truth - Moment Of Truth
OK some people have accused Da Truth of bitin' the style of Jay Z on this album. In truth, this isn't what the artist set out to do by his own admission. As a first release this is one serious quality offering. Production is outstanding, very much on the Cross Movement tip as you'd expect, with the other Cross Movement heads dropping lyrics. The album starts and finishes with accapella cyphers which is quite an interesting concept. I also like the fact that the lyrics are included in the album artwork. I like the beats and flow on 'South Street' too - very booty shaking! Content-wise we have rhymes about Christ aplenty such as The Jesus Anthem pointing to God as the true way, the true answer. 'My Story' gives Da Truth's testimony, showing you don't have to have been saved out of a mess to have a testimony. One of the dopest tracks on the CD is track 15, 'Fourplay' which confronts sexual sin and holiness. This is confrontational but honest, offering a fair description of the problem for many men in the body of Christ, but also delivering solutions too - 'put on the whole armor just to guard your mind up - hold every thought captive to Christ lest you wind up - with unnecessary pain..'. There is a tuneful hook with an r&b flava on 'NFL' which is sweet. And in 'My Story' Da Truth points to his own testimony, informing us that you don't have to have been a gangsta to witness to Christ's work in your life. I really like this album. The weakest points are that the 'Jay-Z' vocal style can occasionally get a bit much and some of the "P's" from the mic recording have a lot of 'pop' - unusual in a quality recording. But highly recommended, some impeccable and fast cyphers and very commercially accessible. Run Time - 68.04.
Dave Berkey – ‘Until Our Last Breath'
Dave Berkey (formerly known as ‘Cede’) was born and raised in Pennsylvania, USA. One thing that shines from the album is Dave’s humble and honest passion for his music to encourage people to think about Christ and live for him (“Lift Him Up”), especially in this deceptive world (“Think About It”). “True Love” ft Rob Estevez shines a profound light on the true nature of love as Berkey raps and talks through situations and the ultimate truth that only “Jesus Christ can truly satisfy”. The uplifting and rolling lead track, “Until Our Last Breath” encourages us to rap and live for the King til our last breath - what we live and die for. In all things Berkey points to the “..perfect communion. Godhead, three in one, the tri-union”. (“Walk Like This”). “Hope” is an incredibly inspiring tune, over guitars and an almost ‘live instrument feel’ where Berkey points to the hope, the light that brings life. The whole album is like a dedication to God, an offering, as evidenced by tracks like the soft “Surrender” and the booming and creative, “Kingdom Work” that builds as Berkey points to God’s grace and rolls Scriptures as inspirational weapons for the King. “Lead Me To The Cross” ft Mariana Padua brings a worshipful ending to the album. An album where the heart behind the music shines as bright as the music.
Deraj – ‘Mirrors And Medicine'
I like the attitude of Deraj in a world where even some Christian rappers brag about what they’ve achieved and their abilities. Very refreshing to have rappers who don’t appear to think that way! The six track project has some variation and creativity that reflects the kind of person that Deraj is – loving to create things that we can ‘see’ and ‘hear’ in his own words. Production is up there and Deraj brings a very expressive flow, evidenced on “Runaway”. At times the melodies could be stronger to really hold the listener (“What You Say”) but this is no criticism, rather to be an inspiration. The beat on the chilled “Forgiveness” is very tasty and with the piano hook, it compliments the message of forgiveness and letting go perfectly. Other tracks bring energy such as “No Fear” with the vocals of Ginelle Yvonne complimenting Deraj. “Solitaire” shows the tricks and deceptions of Satan who appears as an angel of light and warns us of the seriousness of playing with sin. We end with the beginning, “Egypt” which reflects the album. We evidence the quality, the lyrics and creative tones of Deraj as he drops an all too-short verse after the intro, awaiting Deraj to unleash himself vocally. Instead we find a prolonged outro, maybe for us to sit back and reflect. Either way, stay tuned as I’m sure this explosive potential of creativity will be fulfilled in a future release!
Devotion - “It Is For You Mixtape”
The “It Is To You Mixtape” from Mom Productions with tracks by Jade ‘Devotion’ Daley is mixed by DJ G, BBC Oxford. Devotion, hailing from London brings several tracks that she has both performed and produced in her career as a gospel artist. The mixtape title “It Is To You” means the project is for God, giving him the glory and the praise. There are some standout tracks with some tasty vocal hooks as Devotion focuses on Jeremiah 29.11 and spits Scripture – to overcome, to do all things through Jesus and many other Bible verses. The Word of God fills the mixtape throughout, with Devotion encouraging us to renew our mind in Christ. The mixtape features some fresh raps and some beautiful r&b vocals to set together a tight musical project.
DJ Maj - Mixtape
A varied mash up of some very different styles and talented artists, mixed by DJ Maj. Includes 4th Avenue Jones, KJ-52, Pettidee, John Reuben, Vex Da Vortex, Pigeon John, Grits, LA Symphony and Out Of Eden. Run Time - 63.34.
DJ Maj - Full Plates (Mixtape 02)
Another varied mash up from DJ Maj. This joint features so many artists it should speak for itself - Pigeon John from Pigeon John; DJ Form dopeness; Flynn and Joey the Jerk delivering deep and well crafted flows; r&b from Out Of Eden; deft and head nodding beats and delivery from Mars Ill; The Procussions with orchestral pianist-tastic jazz; an Eminem sounding delivery from KJ52 calling out fake gangstas; Corey Red and some commercial gangsta spitting about Jehovah over a female vocal hook; jazzy licks from Ill Harmonics; Grits with their dope sound; LPG and New Breed with underground toughness; Fugitives up from the dirty south and Cross Cypha with a east coast flavour. Plus more. Better than the first mixtape no doubt. Mos def worth checking out and a good intro to the varied forms of hip hop music in the HHH scene. Run Time - 67.00.
Du2ce – ‘JC Saved Me Volume 4’
New rising California artist, the 23yr-old Du2ce out of San Bernardino has a passion to spread the gospel of Jesus through music. One word struck after listening to the mixtape through and that’s BASS! If I had subs I think this project would blow the windows… With crystal clear production throughout and a number of southern infused stabs and delivery, this is a mixtape for the streets. Du2ce manages to use a number of lyrical and production techniques creatively through. Where some albums can over-use techniques, Du2ce never does. The passion for God, for his fire and the truth of Christ are never far from his lips, perhaps best shown by his cry “Lord, set me on fire… so I can go higher”. Where some projects fear to tread, Du2ce calls things as they are (“It’s All Gone Burn”) with God’s final judgment called to mind and set against the temporary things of this world. With some tasty drops and vocals from Rachel and the laid back southern flow of Path, there is variation as well (“Can’t Do This Alone”). There’s a dancey vibe on “More Of You” which is incredibly infectious and with a bigger kick beat could easily play out to a wider platform. The mixtape ends out on the big (near anthemic) “Thy Will Be Done” as Du2ce brings more spiritually insightful rhymes and
Dublit Presents Sammy G – ‘Plain An Simple’
Birmingham’s Sammy G and Jimmy James come together to produce a pure and heady mix of Godly UK grime, bassline and British hip-hop. Title track leads the way as Sammy G hypes a live show with a freestyle and enters into an explosive, ‘Slang’ that had me turning up the CD player. Sammy takes a clear stand for God and calls out foolishness from other rappers. Other similar jump-up tracks include the bass heavy “Find Me” with a quick-witted edge. The album is full of more humour like the laid back flow of “Jack Jones” - and feels like it was a fun project to record. We are served with guest portions of grime, with guests like Jahaziel (“Rate Ya” and “One Weapon”) and JB (“Beautiful Girl”). Sammy G brings a few accapella numbers (“Change”) that showcase his creative flows. Musical changes come with the smooth, soulful down-tempo “Pure Silence” with Monique and the more traditional hip-hop roller of “Its” featuring Candice. Jimmy James showcases more of his varied production skills with the bassline “Morse Code”. In “Beautiful Girl” we have another humorous but honest track with Sammy G not ‘fitting the category’ of a Godly match for women. We end with a hidden track, “Plain and Simple” where Sammy G explains serving God is a privilege and he puts all his trust in God.
Dwayne Tryumpf – ‘Live In Concert’
Renowned South London MC, Dwayne Tryumpf returns with his fifth album. Unlike the previous studio recordings, this a live recording, drawing us into the crowd, the passion and the intimacy of a Dwayne Tryumpf live concert. Featuring mainly well-loved tracks that will be known to fans and bound to draw in new listeners, this is truthfully an explosive musical rap experience. The classic “I Don’t Pack a Matic” lands the listener straight into the centre of the crowd as Dwayne testifies about his life so far before landing the killer chorus, “I don’t pack a matic, but I pack a Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…” The album also lifts up our heads with furious double-timing and energy in the fresh “Thy Kingdom Come” (feat A.Star, Tru2DaName, & Matthew Allen) and the well-known “777” feat Reign Of Fire. If these don’t get you singing and lifting your hands to heaven with a burning passion for God’s Kingdom, you may need to get to a doctor… “Changed My World” is another sees an r&b fusion with a slight Latino vibe as Dwayne gives his testimony over some outstanding musicianship. We then move Dwayne showcasing his skills on a couple of slower tracks like the classic “Proverbs 31 Woman”, we end out with “Never Be The Same”, a raging untamed epic of a track. Reign Of Fire and Dwayne both unleash double-timing, complimented by an equally skilled band. Altogether now, “I’ll never be ashamed…”
Dwayne Tryumf – ‘The Mark Of The Peace: The EP’
With a history in hip-hop where he has honed his skills, Dwayne Tryumf brings a UK sound to the hip-hop Christian world. We are greeted with an epic opener that defiantly speaks God’s life and Word into the streets - “I don't pack a ‘matic, but I pack a Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, cos the war is on..” Equally challenging is the end-times themed, “Matthew 24”, laced with Scripture, a booming rolling beat and refined wordplay - “come down my selecta, resurrecter.. God-man connector”. Tryumf also brings some melodic heat as he connects with the ladies, bringing a contemporary edge on his quest for a Proverbs 31 woman. The Bible is central throughout the project, as evident in tracks like, “Right Now”, covering a range of Scriptural declarations with tasty end rhyming structures, “we in the last days, many will offend you, but he who endures to the end shall be rescued, he will allow certain things just to test you, when evil abounds he swings it to bless you..” We end with a remix of “So Amazing” with a skippy and funky vibe as Tryumf lets rip with some fast lyricism and a catchy hook pointing up to “My God (who’s) so amazing..” Quality rap art from the UK!
Elijah – ‘Clear Cut’
Lakeland, Florida-based rapper, Elijah brings a confessional and hope-filled 7 track EP. With a distinctly southern flavour, the album gives us an insight into the struggles that Elijah has been through. Back in 2014 he was questioning himself, allowing Satan to convince him he had gone too far in sin. Elijah brings a project that is clear and transparent, as “Take Me Back” reveals, letting us know that “what the devil meant for evil, God worked for my good.” In a world full of sin, full of temptation, we are reminded that God is there to help us and restore us even when we mess up. This is not an excuse to sin, it’s about God’s grace to set us free from sin, reminding us in “Oh No” that “Your word ain’t changed, so it’s me that’s twisted” and letting God know that “I am in need of your presence.” As we move through the EP, Elijah brings things down, giving us time and space to reflect on Elijah’s words and thoughts. But we’re not left there, hanging. Elijah takes the listener upwards and onwards with the banger, “You Reign”, a mix of southern hip-hop and anthemic vocal dance, reminding us and giving us hope in the promise that “Jesus, you reign”.
Elohin – ‘Converted. The Biography’
“Converted” is the first CD from Detroit, Michigan based Elohin, although he first dropped a mixtape entitled “Street Scriptures Volume 1” in 2006. The project seeks to bring his listeners thought-provoking subjects right out of the journey of his spiritual walk and to bring the good news to those who are lost. Amen! On the album we start with “Different Game” when Elohin first put pen to paper to write rap age 8 through to the change Jesus made in him in 2006, the blood of Jesus giving him life. Now he raps to bring God’s hope. We watch Elohin’s love story in the moving slow jam, “Round We Go”. Not afraid to crossover musically with a rock rap mix, “Girl” is a story of a girl’s lack of attention changed by Divine intervention. We hear Elohin on the street with an accapella sermon in verses in “Skit”. A standout is when Elohin drops his life story in the brilliant, soulful and radio-friendly “Testimony”. Mainly East-coast in flavour, Elohin showcases some classy delivery and lyricism. Perhaps none more so than in “The Promise” which brilliantly challenges muddled thinking to do with false teaching, especially Islam. Instead Elohin speaks the truth of the Bibler from Abraham to Jesus. Other standouts are “Forgiven” where “God took action, bailed out by the blood in his stimulus package” and “It’s Alright”. We end with “We Praise” - this album a testimony to the work of Christ in Elohin’s life – the converted.
Enock - Awethentic
This is mos def raw. Not because it's full of cussing but because it confronts some real issues head on and no prisoners are taken. Enock was part of Cross Movement but departed to write his own stuff that was less about traditional ministry subjects, and more about tough issues Christians face - in doing so moving to the Much Luvv label - with more of a dirty south feel in many tracks (like 'We' and 'Next Up' which features lots of guest MCs). He addresses sex, lust, women wearing very little in Summertime in 'Runnin' which claims there's '..more sex in the church than Sex in the City'. In the intro, 'Nocktroduction' and in 'Change' Enock directly confronts Christians to take off their mask, 'especially when not in church.' In ' Liberation' he reminds us that he is glad to be doing his own thing and that he is living proof of God's grace. He talks about doing a 'new thing' in 'building up' holy hip hop. Enock's delivery is tight and in yer face, as is the production, there are some nice hooks too (from 'Change' to ' Real'). 'Real' lays it down to HH artists challenging them they can have it all but '..if you're life ain't real then you're doing it wrong'. This is real and brutally honest. As someone said to me, 'this is a rap album every Christian needs.' He also takes a swipe at the holy hip hop industry who he obviously feels strongly about (in the mocked up 'Conference skit'). There's a lot of lyrics clearing the air in this album and expressing frustrations. I expect the next album to up the ante and really rip for Christ. I'm def looking forward to it. Run Time - 40.22.
E Tizz – ‘What I Gotta Say'
E-Tizz rolls out another banger of an album. From the get-go “Out Killin”, we’re into some big and phat synths, rhymes and representing of the true King, as E-Tizz shows his vocal as well as MC skills, delivering some serious punchlines. “Hero” ft Rocstarr continues the big uplifting vibe to the album as E-Tizz cleverly weaves in how Jesus is the true hero, not the superheroes of comic books and movies. “Clap Clap” ft Jai is a bouncing party track. If you’re not clapping and bouncing to this anthem to the one true Creator you’re probably in need of resuscitation! The same applies to the grooving “Put Ya 1’s Up”. The album then moves into a slightly different vibe with some creative and swirling beats and more minimalist instrumentals, “Mr DJ” and “Light Up” before the dance vibe kicks in with “What I Gotta Say” ft Guvna B. Throughout the project, E-Tizz lifts up up musically and spiritually through the music and content, “I’m Not Down” being a great example with elements of bassline, trance and r&b. Rap is never secondary, just fused seamlessly with a number of contemporary sounds, “I’m Tellin’ ‘Em All” ft the legendary KJ-52. As we move towards completion, we come down a touch as E-Tizz speaks conviction of sin and points to Christ to lift us up (“Stating Truth”) and “I’m Sorry”, looking at Christ’s love for us on the Cross, with some fast flowing rhyming. An album that will appeal across ages and will connect with the streets.
Evangelist T & Sista D – Shine, Shine, Shine
Evangelist T & Sista D are a husband and wife team sent by God to minister the word of God in song to those who don't know Jesus Christ and encourage and uplift the body of Christ until he comes. Their heart is to be commended. However, while I admire the sentiments of this album and the lyrical content is Biblically sound, the rap needs to be improved. It comes across as very old skool without reaching the heights of simple old skool tracks like “Rappers Delight”, “The Message” or “The Breaks”. There are some nice backing tracks and vocals at times (“Shine, Shine, Shine”) but the album simply doesn’t make the grain. One example is, “My Best Friend Jesus” in which Evangelist T raps, “I have this friend, Jesus Christ, who showed me his Word and it was nice.” This CD could be well used with children in ‘kids’ church to introduce them to some simple raps. Unfortunately, despite the genuine heart of this ministering couple, the album isn’t quite good enough, despite its soulful melodies.
Everyday Process – Outtadis World
Everyday Process are Mac the doulos and Iz-real and are out of Chester, Pennsylvania (just south of Philly). Their ‘out-of-space’ themed album seeks to continue their passion to bring hip-hop with a difference, to reach people in hip-hop with the gospel of Jesus and to let their lights shine as Christ’s ambassadors in the hip-hop culture that is a way of life for many. Right from take-off (“Invasion”) we learn of a world hostile to Christ, yet Everyday Process are on a mission to be different, proclaiming, “the more I get the cold shoulder, the more I get to grow bolder” in “Alien.” What shines through the album are genuine sold-out lives for God as displayed on “All Out For God” and “Freak” as they declare themselves Jesus freaks set against a media hostile to Jesus. Theology is discussed and celebrated on all tracks, examples including “New” (we are new creations in Christ) and “Bye Bye” which looks at Bible verses looking at the day we’ll be with God. There are east coast nods in the powerfully smooth “Against The Grain” and “What You Look Like”. We bring things down nicely with the soul, r&b laden “Make You Smile”, living sacrificial lives to make God smile. Through the project we hear some nice flows and rhythmic patterns, evidenced on tracks like “I Don’t Belong”. Overall this is an interesting project well worth checking out.