Reviews - G to H (31 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.
G-86 ft Kelly Kelz – ‘At The Cross’
G-86 brings a smooth hip-hop worship track with the tasty vocals of Kelly Kelz. God is his guiding light, helping him to live right, with G-86 praying and speaking that God’s will be done in his perfect light. The project mixes a catchy hook, rap and some r&b where Kelly says her reasonable service is to worship in spirit and in truth. Exactly what you’ll do as you listen to and are uplifted by this.
Gap D – ‘Bout My Father’s Business’
Coming out of the great city of Birmingham, Gap D aka. Gapulus is known for his energetic, bouncy energy with a direct gospel message, while staying true, open and honest. Gap D brings mainly under-stated beats and a focus on lyricism and a UK hip hop flow. “Hollywood/Kingdom” sees Gap D call out the Hollywood-style stardom values of some churches with a focus on the Word, saving souls and living right. Not afraid to speak truth but without calling people out, “Just Sayin” is a challenging track asking some hard questions – “I’m just sayin, the church won’t grow if there’s work on the streets but the church won’t go.” Gap D gives his testimony in “Battlin”, detailing the battle between Spirit and flesh - through into living life for Christ in “Jesus Tekkah”. Gap D is no one-tricky pony, however, as he brings more of a grimey sound on “#Winning” before stretching his production skills into a slightly more boom-bap break on “Only O.N.E.G.O.D”. With some tasty and testing lyrics, a heart ‘souled-out’ for Jesus and some some expressive deliveries and beats, Gap D brings a genuine and Christ-like album.
Gap D - ‘Checkmate Vol 2’
Birmingham’s multi-talented Gap D brings another musically varied album with “Checkmate Vol 2”. There are housey beats (the soulful and standout “Focused” ft Natty Joshia), some creative breaks (“That’s Christian”), upbeat praise tracks (“Thiz Iz How We Praise” ft ClearRose) and more laid back numbers (“Come As U R”). The standout “Somebody” with rolling piano riff and graceful vocals from ….. encourage the listener that God loves them, that they are special and that they can make right choices in life. Gap D’s heart and passion for God and to see communities transformed by God shines through in tracks like “No More Part II” expressing the need for change away from drugs, guns, no beef, no deaths - and taking a real stand against revenge which destroys. Rap with a raga tint is released in “Welcome 2 Tha Altar” ft Spanna in which we are encouraged to offer our lives on Christ’s altar – “To live is Christ and to die is gain” is a challenging and uplifting way to end the album. God in focus and our lives given to him – a reality that Gap D is clearly living through his music and beyond – putting Jesus first.
Gap D & Checkmate Movement – ‘Funky Praise 1’
This 2010 Funky Praise mixtape does what it says on the tin with Birmingham’s Gap D 14 tracks and various singers and rappers. . With a mix of gospel house, funky house, bassline and rap, there’s probably a track in this mix that will lift you up into God’s presence. The album progresses to some harder tracks as the tempo increases to give you a few dancey flavours. I’ve even used some of the tracks out DJ-ing. We start with a few funky numbers with a funky vibe with a standout being “How I’m Feeling” with Sarah Inez vocals. By Track 9, things get a bit faster and more bassy with the bassline-fuelled “My God” ft Breaker and “Neva Dat” with Hatman MC. “Heavenly” ft Anointed Vessels brings things a bassline and gospel mix. It’s awesome to see a youth group (Revive Youth Group) as part of “Revival” before Victizzle guests on “Jam Yourself” to see the project to its finish.
Gerry Skrillz – ‘In Good Time’
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Gerry uses the art of music to engage people with the Gospel. As well as being part of the “Die Daily” collective, Gerry is also an experienced emcee in his own right. Working alongside the youth work team at his church, he also aims to help see communities change and influence the generation. Musically, this EP shows the range of music from southern styles and contemporary beats (“Time”) through to boom bap underground flows and beats (“Use Me”) this is an album as wide as Gerry’s aims as an artist and Christ follower. Gerry Skrillz paints vivid lyrical pictures and isn’t afraid to speak from the heart about his own struggles he sees in the mirror and yet sees a child of God reflected back (‘Sinner” featuring the delicious vocals of Ashilann). Standout track is the southern styled minimalist and impassioned “Godspeed” where he finds his only hope and purpose is in God.
G.L.O God’s Love Only – ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’
This seven track mini album encourages and equips us through lyricism that strikes a perfect balance between clarity and depth. Some albums in their attempt to be clear become simplistic, or in an attempt to have clever wordplay become too complex. But G.L.O. hits a great balance. The bassy “But God” demonstrates this, with G.L.O dropping truth and personal experience to produce a deep, rich and true track putting God’s truth above all other voices – but God… The description for this album says this is filled with Biblical based lyrics from beginning to end alongside bass driven sounds, high energy melodies, that is guaranteed to resonate throughout your soul (the jump up “Follow Me”). No description could be more accurate. G.L.O. shows both great vocals and a range of different flows – as shown in the beautiful and powerful, “Transformation”. Clever and contemporary production adds to the feel of the project as in “Vapor”. This may only be a seven track album but this has quality over quantity. And as you journey through the album, you are equally drawn by the humility and Biblical truth that is rapped, spoken and sung (such as the worshipful “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”), with a genuine love for God and people.
G.O.L.D. – ‘Choices’
G.O.L.D. (God’s Other Living Disciple), otherwise known as Rob Howze hails from Buffalo, New York and has produced an album that is hard to categorise musically. In his words, his music “bridges gaps and shatters barriers” moving between rhythm & praise and hip-hop, like the pulsating “Don’t Judge Me”. Working with his wife, Nicole Howze, what emerges is a talented and musically varied album, mixing piano, guitar and beats with some refreshingly raw vocals. “Every Time” is a real standout tune, mixing r&p and rap vocals. Several tracks have a smooth rolling rhythm & praise groove, moving from uplifting to more thought-provoking slower jams like “Shine On Me”. The first real hip-hop comes through in “Somebody’s Watching You” as we learn how God’s eyes are on us from birth. “Heaven Step” is as it says, a dance track with G.O.L.D shouting out the moves over a musical breakdance backdrop. As the project draws to a close the musical influence continues to develop in the challenging ‘Choices” as we journey through a man’s fallen choices and restoration to his wife. Other life stories come thick and fast in “The Truth” mixing sung rap following the melody line and rap. “It’s Not Too Late” is a worship track, “to give your life to the one who saves”, with the acoustic guitar vibe continuing to the end track, “Jesus Loves Me.” Some tracks and vocals could do with a bit of polishing but this doesn't detract in any way from the project!
Gospel Gangstaz – ‘Defenders Of The Faith’
Gospel Gangstaz – a name synonymous with the gospel hip-hop scene for over a decade. “Defenders Of The Faith” is their latest project. Coming out of gangs in Los Angeles, Mr. Solo and Chille Baby are the carriers of the latest album and produce music that will get your best ‘West Coast’ face on! Another review pointed out the album is like a throwback to the West Coast sounds of people like Snoop and Dre back in the day. In many ways this is accurate but of course with Gospel Gangstaz bringing their own tones, vocals and message about Jesus and not about the world. The album is actually quite a breath of fresh air. Right from the off in “Roll On” we find that old skool west coast sound – “making records that all the family can bang… taking back what the enemy has stolen, getting blessed with the best gangsta roll on.” There’s a serious amount of bounce (“Defenders Of The Faith”, “Braids In”, the boombox rider “Walk With Me” and the g-funk worshipful “2Nite”) through to a tasty piece of cruising smoothness in “Never Take Us Alive” through some slow numbers, “Every Man” and “Trying Times”. We end out on the g-funky and boogie “Don’t Dance”. A tasty piece of west coast roll down the windows funky freshness!
Greenjade - Chronicles
Released in 2003, this album is a compilation of the best of the UK's Greenjade tracks to that date. Greenjade hail from London, UK and consist 4 MCs ripping mics for 10 years globally (the Jade - Judah, Wizdom, Wei and 3rd Son - also including DJ Secret Weapon, spinning beats). I've met one of the crew at the UK's Cypha hip-hop gathering and he was a top man. This is a top album showcasing much of what Greenjade can do, although since this release they've stepped things up much further, especially in production. Greenjade describe their music as 'tru-skool' meaning that hip-hop belongs to the Creator. Starting up with 'Best Kept Secret' a shout about the secret behind Greenjade - Christ the risen Son. Another favourite and standout track is "Merrily" whic brings a cathcy hook about Greenjade merrily enjoying repping Christ through hip-hop. An excellent intro to 'the Jade' which is worth picking up to support UK Christian hip-hop. Expect even more from these cats real soon. Run Time - 76.59.
Greenjade &… ‘The Nu Jerusalem Project Vol 1’
UK represent with hot tracks of rap and urban - top production, top album! Greenjade have performed across the UK and the globe to critical acclaim since 1996. In 2003, after much sacrifice and 6 years prayer, a dream was realised with their own ‘Nu Jerusalem’ studio, a quality space for the Jade and UK artists to record and release their musical dreams. Thus the Nu Jerusalem Project Vol 1 was breathed into life. The album explodes into life with Greenjade bringing heat over The Tribe’s, “Take Back The Beat”. So what else can you expect? Prodigal Son from Nottingham raps insightfully about “The Things People Do For Money” - a track where the glockenspiel melody vividly and brilliantly contrasts with the realities of street life and the need for Jesus. The outstanding Siani bring their contemporary urban gospel sound in “Love Is” (featuring Greenjade), which recently hit number 1 in the Blues&Soul chart. London 5 piece Eklesia deliver a fantastic urban gospel rap sound in “Move Remix”. On the UK hip-hop tip there’s Zionnoiz, “Let It Out”, Jahaziel “Headlines” and “No More Secrets” by Beatlab. Three seriously catchy tunes with smooth, vibrant and sanctified deliveries. Chapter 29 bring, “The Fellowship Of The King”, fresh from their performance at Flavor Fest in Tampa. The project varies it up with the energetic dance soca-style, “I Can’t Stop” (Soca Susie remix) by MV. We round things off with “One Voice, One Heart” the powerful UK Christian artists collabo for the Tsunami relief. As for the hidden track.. wicked tingz warnin! Run Time - 58.07.
Greg Cooks – ‘The Paragon’
With some likening him to artists like Chance or Lecrae, Greg Cooks (previously known as Puntin) has put together his seventh project. Tracks like “I Just Do It” demonstrate Greg Cook’s lyrical and delivery gifts, while the rolling sub bass helps set the tone for the project. The Texas native showcases a range of mainly southern tracks, Greg Cooks is equally comfortable across a wider range of hip-hop genres (including the deliciously experimental bassline-infused “Why”). In fact, some of the strongest tunes on the project (such as the west coast flavoured “Drop The Top”). At times, the project brings some melodic and atmospheric turns and vocals that only add to the mix of the project – “From Here” and the tasty “Better For You”. Variation also includes the more personal storytelling in “Long Way To Go” as Greg Cooks defines his story so far and looks forward – “there’s two kinds of people in this world, the ones who make excuses and the ones who make it better.” As someone dedicated to touching lives through rap, this album is one no small part of that “making things better”.
Grits – The Art Of Transformation
The Art opf Transformation is basically a remix of the ‘Art of Translation’ album (see below). New takes on old classics, mainly in terms of production, rather than lyrical content. Generally, I’m not a great fan of remix albums as there is always a danger of adding just a few different sounds (or using rejected mixes) to put out an allegedly ‘new’ album. ‘The Art of Transformation’ doesn’t suffer from this. Instead we have varying levels of change in the mixes from the original ‘Art of Translation’ album. Grits have brought in remixers across the album, with Liquid Beats, Pettidee and Ric Robbins taking over the controls. There are some tracks from the original album that have been dropped (including the interludes), but this causes no problems to the flow. The overall impact is an album with a slightly more minimalist, laid back (even Latino) vibe than the original. We still have the same famous Grits dirty south sound. “Ooh Aah” is one track that sees little difference from the original. On some tracks we find original vocals over new musical melodies and beats, such as “Runnin” and “Be Mine”. Other times the tracks take on new directions as in, “Make Room” and “Lovechild”. Tracks such as “Tennessee Bwoys” and “Believe” definitely aren’t as catchy as the originals, but aren’t bad at all. Other times the more laid back, chilled out vibe takes over, with “Seriously” and “Sunny Days” being examples. Overall, this is a very tight remix album, ended with a tasty Jay Mumbles remix.
Grits - The Art of Translation
Starts off with the funky, latino sounding 'Here We Go' which is a catchy track. This has a dirty south beat overlaid by a syncopated guitar riff. Excellent lyrics, also heavily and creatively syncopated and fast flowing.. "i was born in the cold - moved to the heat - got used to the flame - now i spit it on beat - i was raised in the womb - groomed by christ - with a gift to raise souls from the tomb.' The melodic 'Ooh Aah' has a real catchy hook and calls out to God for those times we're far away, times of fear, telling God, ..'sometimes i fall i slip, my heartfelt desire be more like you, trying not to quench your fire by the things that i do.' There are many tracks with well-crafted female vocal backing like in 'Runnin'. We head down to the dirty south sounds in the appropriately named 'Tennessee Bwoys'. Another beautiful hook on 'Be Mine' narrates the process of getting married and finding the right girl - 'cause the union we got ain't no comparing any other, I'm askin you to be more than a baby's mother, my help mate soul tie my right hand, beginning and end and better half of life, to be my lady my lover my best friend and wife hey..' A serious topic over a heavy guitar in 'Serious' is a commitment to them writing quality lyrics and with Christ's depth - 'put the cross placement, with the cross over placement.' In 'Video Girls' there's a shot across this business of video making, of short skirts and the costs involved plus not treating women with disrespect. 'What Do You Believe' is another sweet, dope tune, challenging people to reach out to truth and to make something of life. 'What the blood spilt for. A ship in harbor is safe but that ain't what it's built for..' We head down south again for 'Get It' and 'Make Room'. Another nice tune is dropped in 'Sunny Days' with an old skool flavoured bassline. Depth. Go seek. Run Time - 53.21.
Grits - Dichotomy A
The first album of a 2-part release CD, Part B has recently dropped (November 04). This album is quite a mix of flavours and features the usual Grits style of dirty south and catchy hooks. The game is def raised though. Aside from being part one of a 2 part series (a new concept in itself) this album takes 'The Art of Translation' and takes it up a level. Production is something I always listen out for and this is exceptional. We start out with 'Hittin Curves' which is the lead single and has a feel good midwest vibe. 'Bobbin Bouncin' and 'I Be' both head up to the dirty south - minimal beat, hats high in the mix - but also with some good scratches dropped. 'I Be' is one of my favourites, dope sub bass, Pettidee inspired claps and percussion, lyrics riding the beats while The Grits and the awesome Pettidee speak words of testimony, words of life and identify themselves. What a roller! Next up are words spoken over strings (from Apple's Soundtrack and Garage Band btw!) challenging girls to check the way they dress, the men they date and see themselves right in God's life. 'Anybody' is a very tuneful but challenging song - 'What you wanna know, where you tryin to go, what you tryin to see, where you tryin to be.. I got to break these chains..' The next track is another tuneful and live drum sounding roller, 'Pardon Me Yo' mixing The Grits with Pumpata Jutte dropping soulfully over Grits vocals - a telling God, 'Don't know what to do without you'. Nice. Very fresh. One of my favourite tracks. 'High' moves back to 'Bouncin Bobbin' territory, another south party track, asking God to let the fire burn and roar.. 'Rhymes that represent you Lord.. gettin angel wings to soar high'. A soulful r&b with jazz guitar lick number drops with 'Get Down' encouraging us to find our proper perspective and place in life - 'I never understood great til I really repented.. God's will being fulfilled, my life complete.' In 'Where RU Going?' The Grits talk about their desire to reach people through their music - eternal existence is real. In 'Mind Blowin' there is a collab with 4th Ave over guitar licks, church organ stabs and soulful lyrics especially on the hook. The song crosses hip hop scenes from south to west coast. in 'Shawty' we have the hook, 'What's Happenin' with Lisa Kimmey from Out Of Eden distinctive. This is a story pointing about a boy on the streets to the right way in life, playing a 'roll with no control'. This is a challenge to the 'urban streets' and their values. Light rolling beats over a guitar riff, samples and strings conjure a magical heartfelt vibe. 'Gutter Boy' has a more powerful ragga vibe with big bassy samples and Jamaican overtones - 'big up your shield of righteousness, yes!' Final track is another great end track choice, again with elements of reggae, the last track you'd bump at a club. Great album. There's a Dichotomy B too. Run Time - 46.50.
Grits – ‘Quarantine'
“Quarantine” is rumoured by some to be the Grits last studio release. Over time the Grits sound has remained unique and yet tracked a forward hip-hop motion. This album has received mixed reviews in the Christian hip-hop community. The title track “Fresh” has a strong party vibe that springs the album into life. This sentiment is continued by the synthy banging track, “Do It Again”. There’s a strong hook on “New Life” with Annie Williams, as on the following “Neverland” ft Jade Harrell and IZ. This is underpinned (like the less strong “Neverland”) by electronica and pulsating beats, uplifting hooks and tight delivery on both tracks. “Neverland” has more of a jazzy backing and is more of a complete hip-hop track and more of the Grits that we know and love. Some tracks are fairly honest in life’s issues and problems (“We All We Got” with the surprising lyric, “Life’s a slut, all dressed up with a nice butt”), ultimately points to the truth that we all need a Saviour. The interesting “OMG” (“Oh my God”) sees some furious double-timing and also includes Grits standing up to some of the haters (as they also do in “Fresh”). “Different Drum” with a drum-laden instrumental is a southern stepper and a refreshing track on the project. We close out with “Quarantine” which is more a piano riff lifted by the great vocals of Brennin Hunt.
Grits – ‘Redemption’
In summary, Grits show their versatility with a quality mix of the crunk and the contemporary. This is a more musically all-rounded album in terms of syles. In a commercial hip-hop era where dirty-south sounds have come to predominate, it is so refreshing to have the Grits faithfully creating and shaping real, outstanding spiritual hip-hop music. In this album, the Grits cover a lot of hip-hop territory in what feels like their most rounded album yet. We start with a deep sub bass southern party track, as Grist spit smooth, tight rhymes as they point that they are blessed and changed. The Grits also lace smooth and catchy vocal hook laden tracks, such as “Holla @ Ya” with its clean break and sound, and “You Said” (the broken promise of a couple ‘always being together’) featuring the outstanding Pigeon John and BTwice, with a cruising beat and tune. In tracks like “Heyyy” we have a downtempo crunk contemporary sound. This contrasts with the thought-provoking “Soul Cry” talking about how so many souls are crying out ‘help me’ – the Grits commenting they cannot standby and do nothing. “Ambition” has a more regular hip-hop beat (as has “Memories), over which Grits bring some great lines together, with Canibus bringing an aggressive flow in contrast to the laid back beat. “Open Bar” is a more lively, standout track featuring a rasping synth sound, mixing up a dirty south and west coast vibe. “Right Back”, the end track has a piano-riff (almost 80s backing track) with a vocal hook from Brittany Waddell and more smooth flows from Bonafide and Coffee. Nice ending to a great album. Run Time - 46.09.
Grits – ‘Reiterate’
Grits produce a well polished and highly produced album with an outstanding mix of styles and flavas. Right from the off with “Sky May Fall” we have a cracking track with a pop-edged R&B number, with beautiful vocal hooks and positive message. There are a number of well-positioned guest appearances. In the arpeggiated synth based “Fly Away”, Grits give props to their mom, talk about their journey towards God, “Man, God got his hand on your life, so he gave you a gift and the mic”. There is a unique sound in, “Dusk To Dawn”, using a mix of reversed kick drum and vocal effects. The album nicely uses the vocoded ‘Cher Effect’ style on some vocals, such as in the very smooth and rolling, “I Run”. In “Beautiful Morning” we have a well-matched soundtrack to a guest performance from the inimitable Pigeon John. With two such talented artists and smooth lyricists in Coffee and Bonafide, we “Walking My Way” is a romantic, downtempo mellow crunk roller with some nice lyricism, as is the soulful, soul-filled throwback, fiddle-infused “Something About It”. “Reminds Me” is a banging club-track with a dance, synthy pop-edge which demonstrates the agility of Grits in delivery and creativity. We do have some classic Grits stuff though, the banging “Get Started” is a winner, with its bouncing crunk-edge. A mix of Godly lyrics and life issues is an essential tool, as Grits continue to impact both the so-called Christian and secular markets.
G-Sharpe – “Life Line EP”
Gabriel Sharpe, songwriter, rapper and producer from Brooklyn New York was inspired at a young age into music around friends and family. He would later find his true calling in the year of 2008 as he began his Journey with the lord breaking free from the street and drug life. Since the year of 2013 he's been performing all through out NY to Jersey and has been working with other artists. The five-track Life Line EP is one of his projects to use his gifts for God and bring God’s message and this his does despite a few shaky vocal moments. G-Sharpe has the ability to utitlise a range of styles – from the southern styled opener, “Example”, using “the air through his nostril… to preach the gospel.” Throughout, the vocals of Crys-C help each song soar to a higher place, especially in “Life Line 2” as she takes the whole track. Production-wise, G-Sharpe rolls out a bassy laid back flow in “Living In This World” as he reminds us that “God sees.” As we end out with the smooth “Who Do You Think You Are” with vocals from G-Sharpe (including some fast paced patter) and Crys-C, we hear the heart to be all that God wants him to be and to keep growing. Amen to that!
Guvna B – ‘The Narrow Road’
London bwoy Guvna B has put together an outstanding mix of UK hip-hop, grime and even skirting around the world of bassline. “Allo Mate”, the lead track with a bouncy challenge from Guvna B and kids on the hook telling us that we need to accept Christ and need him in our life. Watch out - you may just find yourself walking round saying, “Allo Mate”! Showcasing the diverse mix throughout, “The Narrow Road” kicks in a funky bassline house beat with a grime flow and panned vocal hook, as we journey along Christ’s narrow path. “Kingdom Skank” follows this mix with a pulsating and addictive bassline tune as we dance for the Kingdom as Guvna B flows. UK hip-hop rolls throughout, with Guvna B comparing his own modern day mission to lead people to Christ, to Moses’ leading the people of Israel. If you’re looking for slower blend, the outstanding tracks, “I Need You” looking up to God and the challenge to put the weapons down in “Put It Down”. The tracks, “What I’m Looking For”, “New Jerusalem” and “This Is For The Fans” follow a similar vibe, as Guvna B gives it up for God – “if you ask for a picture, I’d rather give you a Scripture”. Grime excerpts include, “Pray As You Go” and “Standard” as Guvna B commits to living up to God’s standards. What’s gwarnin? Guvna B. Believe.
Guvna B – ‘Scrapbook II’
Guvna B returns with a blistering new project taking in the influences of living in around the streets of London and beyond. Guvna B’s last album landed at number 22 in the UK official charts and at Number 1 in the official Christian and Gospel charts. With opportunities exploding around him, Guvna B’s latest project is explosive and seems to readily reflect the creativity and vibrancy of his life. This is faith-filled and with Guvna B delivering life-lines throughout with perspective, while continuing to unleash adept wordplay, delivery and lyrics. Picking out standout tracks is like trying to pick out one Bible verse above another! We lift off with an utterly infectious piece of rip-roaring rap pop fusion over a drum n bass break ft Remidee of LZ7. Up-close and personal tracks include the bassline-laden “Homeless” as Guvna B recounts his life, feeling almost ‘homeless’ at times, yet knowing that “heaven is where home is”. The album is musically rap-venturous – from the killer grime flows in “Carlton Palmer” with Nick Palmer through to the energy of tracks like “Glow” ft Shaé Jacobs, the reggae-infused “Chale” and then to the east-coast soulful hip-hop sounds of “Seasons”. Sometimes when a project brings varied musical strands, the whole doesn’t seem to fit together. But what Guvna B brings here is nothing short of an epic exploration of rap, music, faith and flavas.
Guvna B – ‘Something For The Summer EP’
This seven track EP encapsulates much of the Guvna B uplifting vibes, grimey rhyming (“Don’t Give Up On Trying”), a range of creative breaks and an overall inspiring message to the listeners. After we look toward the Summer vibes, “Rainbow” drops an amen drum and bass break before Guvna B looks up to the “Rainbow” and encourages us that “heaven has got a plan for you.” In “Summer Love” Guvna B brings it home, seeking to retake the world with love, remembering those lost to violence. From elements of drum and bass, the dancey “Chale”, soulful sounds (“For The Greater”) and pulsating synths, this is an EP sure to bring you a spiritual and hip-hop boost. From hip-hop through to thoughtful lyrics confronting pain in life, to encouraging people to find love and find their hope in Him, this is Guvna B at his creative and affirming best.
Heath McNease – ‘The Gunshow’
Heath McNease is a highly talented individual. His lyric are rightly described as being ‘funny, quirky, intricate and thought provoking.’ This project is this and so much more. The overall impression is of tremendous passion, humour but with an underlining depth of message such as, “Everything Goes” with its mix of vocals, beat, guitar and scratching. Heath showcases a varied flow from underground to more commercial sounds, “Nintendo Thumb” showcasing Heath’s own lyrical agilities. “The Gun Show” with the highly gifted Playdough pokes fun at our obsession with physical appearance. There are so many contemporary references that there are too many to list, but “Nerd Out” is a shout-out to all those sci-fi, nerd types! Varied influences abound, but the multi-musical-layered Queen structured song, “Thank You” revealing the hurt of a broken heart is one of the best. Political-rap isn’t his thing, but the reality of death is confronted in “Common Cold” with elements of electro. Tough issues confronted include suicide on “Pity Party”. On a number of tracks, guitar-riffs and acoustic undertones lace the wordplay (“Disco Biscuits”, “I Will Live” and the reggae-influenced riffs on the heavenly home themed “Zion”). Other artists add so much, from the distinctiveness and vocal insight of Red Cloud on “Zion” to the fun and flowing tones of Pigeon John in “American, Idle” satirising the desire to be famous overnight. The album reviewed was a double-album also included the acoustic-infused rap of Heath’s “Shine On” album, which is a classic in its own right. Outstanding.
Hevn’ Li Angel – ‘To Whom It May Concern’
Rapping since the age of 14, Hevn’ Li Angel shows both her vocal and rapping skills as she shares her faith in Christ and life. Her testimony (Track 3, “Interlude”) is a short message of God’s intervention. The interludes throughout testify to God’s working, ending with an appeal to ask Jesus into your life. Her lead single, “I Need You” has had 1000s of plays across the web and shows her energy and verbal flexing, working over a slightly energy-less beat. This is reprised later in the album with Q Tha Miracle lifting things higher. “So Clear” ftg Q and “Pray For You” see Hevn’ Li Angel’s rhymes match up even more effectively with the beat, with the same in “No Worry” – “no worry, no problem, anything I need… my God can solve it”. “Going No Where” is an energetic and uplifting track which deserves widespread radio play (I’d love another verse!), as Hevn’ Li Angel testifies to seeking God and then God being alongside her through the difficulties in life. Another standout, “World Of Pain” kicks in with a killer beat as Angel flows confronting abuse, before Lady Hog testifies to how God saved her from the streets and prostitution. Hevn’ Li Angel is all about music but her ministry extends to helping hurting women and women on the streets, as “Outro” demonstrates. “Tears Of An Angel” is another uplifting track with a backing track and song that again showcases Hevn’ Li Angel at her very best.
Hiddenman – ‘Hiddenman: The LP’
Hiddenman coming out of London unleashes a distinctive 13 track project. We start off in a battle as we’re encouraged not to retreat despite the seeming overwhelming odds. “Gates of Hell” uses a powerful operatic hook telling us thast the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. Hiddenman encourages us into unity, in God’s supernatural power to win the spiritual war. Hiddenman has a great talent to mix an accessible, yet humorous and underground flow across the project. In “Good News” Hiddenman brings good news, not to damage you. Loving the grooving and soul-filled “Use Me” as Hiddenman commits to be used and to do God’s will. A similar vibe is found in “Real Luv” being liberated through loving God and God’s love, to love the world, and the smooth as silk “God Bless Ya Life.” Hiddenman drops in a fair amount of challenge and theology in tracks like “Can’t Rob God” looking at tithing – a principle that splits Christians! But as Hiddenman encourages, “worship the Lord in your giving... give credit where it’s due!” There’s a mix of some tight beats and some under-stated beats and a mix of old-skool sounding (“Victory”) and contemporary edges “Praise Da Lord.” Really feeling the “Hiddenman Song” in which Hiddenman expresses his heart for integrity, truth and God, “Cos when I’m spitting yo, it’s gotta have a purpose. If ya just wanna be entertained then just go to the circus.” We end with a tasty, live-sounding acoustic version of “Use Me.”
Hip Hop Alliance - Coalition
Actually the first Christian rap CD I ever purchased. I bought it from my local Christian bookstore in 2001 and they've been stocking rap for me ever since! This features solo songs (not mixed) from a variety of artists such as LA Symphony, New Breed, MG! The Visionary, 4th Avenue Jones and John Reuben. Production from the man Pigeon Jones does no harm at all! This album crosses styles too, from the refreshing and uplifting 'Sea Breeze' of LA Symph (reminding me more than a bit of Tribe Called Quest), to the south style of Campquest collective, to the Puerto Rican LA raw and New Breed to the distinctive funky breaks of MG! to the 4th Ave band rock soul funk rap through to the fresh energetic John Reuben - plus many more styles. 14 tracks in total. Run Time - 55.36.
Hip Hop Praise - Sinners Prayer
I bought this album when I was hacked off with people telling me I had to worship God through guitar based worship (nothing wrong with that - just don't go round prescribing ways of worship!) I've been remixing Christian stuff in different flavaz for a few years so it was sweet when this hit my doorstep, hot from the US. It doesn't disappoint, remixing classics like 'Lord I Lift Your Name On High', 'As The Deer', 'Open The Eyes Of My Heart', Matt Redman's 'Heart Of Worship' and more. 'Awesome God' is a jazzy guitared beautiful track with a well delivered hook. I also like 'Sinners Praise', prolly my favourite jam on the album. Each song has a different flava, crosses rap, r&b, sampled and live drums/percussion, guitar licks with great vocals. Worshipful, real fun, sometimes unexpected and just uplifting. MG! The Visionary delivers a quality hip hop worship album that is also fun and both lyrically & vocally varied with plenty of varied guest performances (Lojique collective, Manchild, Playdough and dope vocals from Holly Campbell) that mix together and really work. A great combo and fun track is found in 'Holiness' with a mix of vocals both and funny & deep lyrics. Not one for the die hard underground backpacker purists but lyrics are clever, spit Christ and are delivered with passion. Expand your mind, release the sense of fun inside of you and check it. As the prayers and lyrics in 'Heart of Worship' say, 'Jesus, it's all about you..' Run Time - 56.10.
Holy Hip Hop – Volume 7
Secular rap is full of negative images, trash talk and the promotion of a lifestyle that goes against God. Compilations such as “Holy Hip Hop Volume 7” are counter-cultural musical agents, going against the flow while producing quality hip-hop as a Godly alternative. This compilation is full of southern beats and flavours to get inspired to reach the streets, representing the “original O.G” as we hear in the opener, “My Lane” from Dre Murray. The dirty south rolling synthy vibe fills much of the album such as the pulsating “Understand Dat” and the crunk-fueled, party vibed “P.U.S.H” and the English-Spanish west coast marinated mix of “Caliente” (‘hot’). There is a complete change of vibe to a soulful call to put down the load, stop holding on to junk and let God’s light show. This is a musical shift continued by the r&b offering, “I Am” from Kyle Lovett – God being everything we need, the way truth and the light, who we need to trust and obey. The album comes to a close with “Thug Motivation” as M.A.J.O.R.S sprays holy lyrics out to the hood. Overall a tasty CD with some ups and downs. This is a project that will appeal to those into dirty south and with a view to reaching the streets and projects – especially in the States.
Holy Hip Hop – ‘Taking The Gospel To The Streets Vol 14’
Volume 14 in the Holy Hip Hop compilation series features a host of artists repping for Christ over some very tight beats. The overall vibe is very street and contemporary, mixing up beats and instrumentals with a range of MCs and flows. The message is assertive and passionate for Jesus, as TCO flows from the top of the project on “I’m A Rida” as he flows and rides for Christ. The music flows from rap-r&b crossovers (“Understand” with B The Messenger’s southern gritty flow and “ThankYou” with Blaze Torch) through B The Messenger’s the more dirty south crunk “Follow Me” through the minimalist and the vocal tunings of Triumph aka Warlord on “I Am What God Says I Am”. More anthemic tunes explode into life from Godson “What Would Jesus Do” to the ‘Highlife” as Jesus as the high life, the Saviour, the way is represented by Godson ‘The Good Problem’. Different flavours come across the project, from the rolling lyrical flow of Legion Of Souls on “We Made It” over contemporary hooks. Then Elohin brings a more laid back (almost ‘Will Smith’) vibe in his flow on “It’s Alright” over Jenee’s vocals. A similar downtempo vibe comes from the expressive rap of Triumph aka Warlord, “Someone On The Inside Of Me”. We end out with “Call Him Up” with Rain End Hard’s laid back vocals as we’re encouraged to call up and call on God. Definite street edged project with some varied production and strengths.
Holy Hip Hop – ‘Vol 16’
The album is about taking the gospel to the streets and the streets are the main focus of the album with a mainly Mideast and Southern feel. This is with a couple of ‘east coast’ exceptions and the smooth r&b end track from D.Reed. Overall the album doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the others in the series. Standout tracks include the lead track “Feel Good Music” which has a good bounce and uplifting feel to it. “The Truest Lie” with sees Prolifyk bring a laid back but on point delivery. Brotha Dre brings a challenge over an energetic delivery, basslines and a sung chorus of how God can redeem and bring your mess into a message (“Come Home”). There’s some nice beats and electronic bassy mayhem in the bouncy “In Ya Zone” with Brutha War including some varied and double-timing lyricism. True in “Fly High” also has some furious wordplay which matches the energy of the backing.
Hope Dealers – ‘HD Living’
Rap collective “Hope Dealers” comprising Joebloggs, J_SMLS and MeansMusic bring a bass heavy debut mixtape called "HD Living.” The collective were formed at the end of 2013 from the same church in Croydon with the shared aim of bringing hope to the streets. With some clever wordplay and bouncing off each other on the mic, Hope Deakers are at their very best on tracks like the standout “Aint On Nuttin” with some uplifiting energy and lyrics reminding us, “The only way is Christ, not Essex”. Hope Dealers show their varied lyrical skills on the more grime-based delivery of “Stand Up”, showing us their fearlessness and love for God and encouraging the same in us. The project needs to best served with the bass turned up – shown throughout and on standouts like “Famous” where Hope Dealers express their passion to make God famous, not themselves, over sub-bass frequencies. The outro, “Live Session” shows a vibrant faith alive through clear, feisty and God-glorifying rap skills that should inspire the listener and the schools worker alike to hear Hope Dealers live at a venue near you soon!
Hostyle Gospel - ‘Immortal Combat’
Hostyle Gospel are a crew hailing from Illinois. The album cover gives you a feel of where the crew are coming from – with the guys dressed as troops raising up a cross, in a copy of the famous picture of US marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima in WW2. For Hostyle Gospel, the ‘hostile’ part is not in deed, but in the passion and delivery of their lyrics. The album moves across hip-hop territory through midwest, east, west, old skool and beyond (see for example the banger, “Christian V.I.P”). At times the flow appears much more indie ( “Thanks 4 Comin Out” has a slight old skool, funky feel production with a rip-roaring furious flow. “Move” has another great flow and an 90s grooving beat as we’re encouraged to move and let people know about Christ, “Come on people of faith, don’t fake, just do…” In the track, “Coming Back Again” we have a fast, often double-timing flow mixed with a more r&b chorus. “War Zone” is like an epic as Hostyle cry out for God’s help in this war zone (the world). In a similar theme of crying out to God, we have the tasty “Calling Out To You.” There’s a military hint to some tracks like the rolling snare on “Give It To Me Now” mixing in scratching (a sadly lost art on some projects!) and the string-laden “Souljas”.