Hip-Hop Reviews - T (23 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.
Taelor Gray – ‘The Mocker and the Monarch’
Some hip-hop albums are heavy on beats and production; others focus on storytelling and lyricism. Motivation ranges from preaching the gospel through to producing an album that people without faith will pick up. Columbus, Ohio native, Taelor Gray manages to produce all of the above. Tracks like the brilliant “Scapegoat” cause us to nod to the beat while contemplating the challenging lyrics… “Taelor, you wasn’t there for me. I just wanted an ear, you gave me a Pharisee…” as Taelor commits to changes while challenging some of the rap world around him. It’s an album of reflections and thoughts about life and Christ - an artist putting his mind’s and spiritual eyes into lyrics. But this comes across as thoughtful rap with a purpose. Some may view this as an album for the hip-hop purist but it’s more than this. While top-quality guest MCs and producers abound throughout, it never feels overloaded or out of place – from the epic “In.Secure” to the cutting yet semi-humorous brilliance of “Powdered Toast Man”. Overall, the project is an incredibly thoughtful piece of coherent prose through rap – a great example being “Mike Lowry X Marcus Graham”.
Tawana Ross – ‘Global Love’
Hailing from Charlotte, NC in the States, Tawana Ross is a minister of the gospel first and then a rapper, speaking the Word of God through rap to see God change, heal and set people free. Mixing soulful vocals and a clean, clear rap, this is an album unashamed of the gospel of Christ, with hooks and patterns filled with the truth of Jesus and the Bible, as in the lead track, “Global Love”. Production is top notch throughout. Bringing varied styles across the project, such as the pulsating and party-friendly tracks like, “Contagious” to the grooving “Can I Have This Dance?” to slower and hard-hitting tracks like “Me And You” (Jesus) and “Trade It All” where God “nailed it one time”, this should appeal across the whole rap spectrum. The focus is on God in everything, as summarised in “Just God” and in the rock-fuelled “He So Great”. One feature is the addition of guests who add much to the project, from soulful vocals through to rap from many including Pastor Rick Williams from her church. We outro with the inspiring and hope-filled “Change The World” where Tawana encourages us that we can make a difference and can change the world despite struggles.
T-Bone - Bone-A-Fide
T-Bone hit the headlines when he starred in the movie, The Fighting Temptations back in 2003, alongside Beyonce and Cuba Gooding Jr among others. T-Bone is a big name in the Christian hip-hop market, most notably for his incredible double-timing rhymes (stand aside Twista) and his familiar West Coast sound. However, on this album t-Bone's sound has matured and expanded yet further. What we have is a very strong album with some big hitters guesting alongside T-Bone. The front cover mimics the infamous poster from Che Guevara and shows T-Bone is on a serious mission for Christ. We fire off with an inspiring speech from T-Bone akin to a 'rally'. Something to stir the soul for the album ahead. "12 Years Ago" brings a conscious rhyme over an 80s styled Beastie Boys / Run DMC style vibe. "Hard Streets" sees T-Bone talking about some of the struggles that he and we all go through, over West Coast beat, Tracy Lane guesting. On "Let That Thang Go" has a crossover west coast almost midwest beat with crunk overtones. Dope sentiments as T-Bone calls out the perversions in secular hip-hop, pointing to Christ, with fast rhyming. "Can I Live" brings a downtempo smooth, catchy west coast vibe - a road track crusing in the vehicle. Featuring LaShawn Daniels, the sentiment is about people jealous of success. "I Been Looking Around" with a sped up vocal underscore, T-Bone rips about his history and past and how God has always been there. "Follow T" sees another crunk bouncy crusing vibe. In "A Few Good Men" with Mack10, we have a nice roller calling out people to change, that we need a few good men to step up in hip-hop. "Shake Ya Body" ('like ya got the Holy Ghost now..') is a jump-up crunk party track - great fast delivery reminding me of Fros'T in style. "The Sanction" is a kinda fun mock MC battle with T-Bone showing he can rip the mic. "You Can't Win" is another fresh piece of west coast battle rap featuring Chino XL. Next up we have another crunk roller clapper street music in "Its OK" calling for guns and gangs off the streets "Bounce" brings a typical west coast vibe rolling in the chevvy. Finally, we hear another T-Bone speech amidst a crescendo of noise, reminding me of every tribe, tongue and nation together in Christ - Victory! Run Time - 49.10.
T-Bone – Bone-Appetit! Servin’ up tha Hits!
Another essential project for old skool T-Bone fans and new fans alike. T-Bone brings a renowned west coast / Latino flavours (eg. “Ride Wit Me” with a Snoop Dog flava and “Blazin Mics”). He also brings his classic rap double-timing (“Wipe Your Tears”). On this, his latest project, “Bone-Appetit”, T-Bone serves up some old and new beats in a west-coast laid-back rider of an album. “Bone-Appetit” is a showcase of T-Bone over the last 6 years and a glimpse into the future too. We find tracks from previous albums, brought together to give an all-round mix of T-Bone’s lyrical skills and vibes. We start with the bassy and momentous “Follow T” which sets the tone for the album and drops a crunky club banger as T-Bone represents and leaves his calling card. Various issues are confronted, along with personal cries such as “Can I Live”. T-Bone features some new tracks, including the outstanding hip-hop worship tune, “Sing Your Praise” mixing up various world influences in a Caribbean, Arabic and Latino fusion. This comes in an English and in Spanish versions, for completion. One of my favourite tracks is the downtempo “Wipe Your Tears” which really spoke to me and provides another hip-hop worship track. There are the usual great assortment of club bangers, such as “Let That Thang Go” and the more dirty south styled “Shake Ya Body”. We even have humour with “Pentecostal Horse Racing”. A clever touch (reminiscent of KJ-52?) is the excellent “Name Droppin” where T-Bone lists a history of many Christian celebs. Holla! Another brisk piece of CD fire from T-Bone.
Tekulve – ‘Inside/Outside’
Out of Ocala, Florida, Tekulve has produced an album that is fresh in essence and quality. His desire is “equipping people with the knowledge of God producing His wisdom & Power to be witnesses and share His love to others.” There can be a tendency with lots of featured artists guesting that an album can drop in flow or quality but not so with “Inside/Outside”. Tekulve has the ability to deliver lyrics smoothly and clearly, at regular tempo or double-timed. The lead track and one of the standouts manages to mix up some fresh southern beats and lyrics with a killer hook. There’s a variations in the flow – an example is on “Lord Knows” where we get both a fast ‘swing’ delivery and a more straight flow. Tasty. Through the project we’re treated to power-fueled vocals such as the lung bursting power of Sharon Brooks on “Best Decision Of My Life”. We’re also treated to more downtempo and r&b influenced tracks like “Heart Of A Worshipper” ft Lindsey Seals and the equally worshipful and impassioned “Test Of Faith” ft the vocals of Chairana Branton. Throughout, Tekulve gives the impression of maturity in flow and lyrics; looking back to learn not to linger; moving forward in reality, truth and in the strength of Christ. “I am aware of the tremendous impact that music has. Music can be used as a tool for construction or as a weapon for destruction; it’s all about the message.”
The 29th Chapter – 'Louder’
29th Chapter bring an anthemic, powerful, relevant and catchy rap tunes with lyrical skills to match... If you’ve been off the planet recently, the 29th Chapter comprise 4 UK MCs - Mr Prince, Navigator, McGladius and Phonetix. Aside from their own tunes they’ve guested on albums from Tim Hughes and Soul Survivor. This seven track EP showcases 29th Chapter and matches their skills, a smooth insightful flow with catchy, accessible tunes and hooks. This flava is aptly demonstrated in the pop-infused, radio-friendly lead track “Radio” as they spread God’s music with hope, to play in the cars and bars, for the youths finding life hard. This powerful message and music continues in the inspirational, “Louder”, a song of pure worship as 29th Chapter proclaim that nothing can hold them down. “Get Strong” rolls to an grooving 4/4 beat as 29th Chapter fight to stay strong in life’s struggles. Another rolling, worship-filled track with vocoded hooks is “So Good” as 29th Chapter praise God. The guys challenge young guys to change and be a real man and put the street attitudes behind them in “Man Up” – a cry to the male community not to waste their life but be a real man. “The Trenches” is an impassioned plea to the streets they compare to trenches, lamenting all the lives lost - “all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put these families back together again.” The MCs and those promoting violence and filth with weak, same-old rap are put to the sword in “Fallout” – with 29th Chapter prophesying the revolution of Godly change.
Theory Hazit - Extra Credit
Hip Hop Is Music continue to push some seriously crazy beats and production. Nice inlay too! Theory Hazit brings an album of such raw freshness, I thought it must be Spring. Well, until I looked out of the window.. The variation in production and beats is testimony to the quality of producers out there right now. The delivery and vocals are a tribute to Theory Hazit as he rolls freely along the underground with every piece of cut up breaks served his way. "Lesson in Power" kicks things off as Theory Hazit reps the transforming power of God in changing lives, encouraging us not to be ashamed. Over a Tony Stone beat, gossip is called out in "Gossip Synopsis" as Theory comes against those who big up and tear down. His faithfulness and love comes across in "Mrs Hazit". Troubles are discussed in "I Just Wanna Come Home", over another ridiculously tight beat and instrumental. Lessons are learned in "Dumb Dunces" featuring K-Drama combining whiffs of humour with a powerful message over another fire starter of a beat. As with the whole album, Extra Credit drops some tight lines that take a poke at other messages from other rappers in hip-hop: "You can get rich or die trying all your life, or you can die trying to live eternal for Christ.." Tight smooth roller with some seriously jazzy elements in "Hello Kiddeex", dedicated to the kids. "After School Special" with JustMe and Sojourn has a nice break, very old skool, mixing up some beats and sounds, very hip-hop. The phat tracks keep coming with "IOU" (a song saying sorry - dedicating the life to shine), featuring Braille and the UK's very-own, Re:Flex the Architect on the beat. In "Decisions" we have another stomper of a beat from Vintage with a number of names representing across the track. Decisions make way for progress. We end up with "Ghetto" which is a very accurate and penetrating look at ghetto life. "It's time to make a change for the better.." I have to say if I could make a hip-hop album of pristinely phat quality, I'd make a project like this. Awesome.
Threat – Threat 2 Society
Threat comes out of Florida, USA with a motto of ‘God first, everything else last.’ The album is a mainly dirty south driven medley of testimony and challenge. His heart is expressed by his knowledge that God is looking down over him, resisting the devil and testifying for what God has done for him, “I came from a life that was waste, look at me now saved by His graces.” (“Flee Far”). There are a number of downtempo challenging tracks like “Devoted” and the minimalist “Didn’t Kno”. In other tracks, Threat demonstrates his versatility like “She Want Me” and “Coastin’ Through’, as he delivers as a nice flow with vocal hooks – a theme common across other tracks too. There is also some interesting production and musical variations across the tracks, moving from the more jump up styles “Gottah Praize” through to more laid back “Say U Don’t”, to the more experimental “Thug Theologian”. The album also throws in a nice change with the banging “Blessings Flo” as Threat changes style to a near west coast rider, to play out with car windows down! Good project, good flow, lyrics and ideas, ready for the future.
Timothy Brindle - The Great Awakening
A 2003 release from the Lampmode Recordings crew in Philadelphia, PA. It is a concept album in which Timothy Brindle looks at 3 phases. First up is our lives when we were 'dead in sin' as the Bible calls it. Second we move onto phase 2 which is regeneration. Phase 3 is the great awakening. Timothy Brindle and crew take us on a lyrical journey through these concepts bringing Biblical insights and teaching, preaching Biblical truth. From the song titles we get a feel of the intentions behind this solid piece of work - 'My new life' - 'Saved by grace' - 'The intercession' - 'Ram's Horn' - 'Hell' - 'Psalm 51' - 'Santification' - 'Liberation'. Timothy Brindle also attacks preachers with faulty doctrine and questionable ways and motives. I read one review about this which asked exactly who this CD is aimed at. I understand where they're coming from but there is no other piece of work like this. It is unique in concept and delivery. If you want something different that is clearly a work in progression, I challenge you to get hold of this. You know the Word of God is power to change lives. This has plenty of the Word and some very hot tracks too. The only area it suffers in is that it doesn't appear mastered quite highly enough but this is a small matter. Get this, let it impact you and others, use it in ministry, with students you work with. Support the Lampmode Crew. Run Time - 78.26.
TobyMac - Renovating -> Diverse City
TobyMac continues his penchanct for releasing emix albums, with a very wide-ranging but infectious album, with diverse remixes of Diverse City - for pop-rock-hip-hop fans. This is not hip-hop as we know it, in fact it verges on the pop with a rap edge at times. But nevertheless, it's a fun although short album to drop. First up is “The Slam” which is an energetic tune pointing to Jesus, with a driving bassline and heavy guitars on the hook - the man, T-Bone guests with some fast double-times slinging rhymes. “Getaway Car” is where old skool breaks explode into a chorus with very definite Ricky Martin overtones on the chorus. Disturbingly catchy nonetheless. “Catchafire” starts up like something out of Star Wars before a minimal break drops in – “gonna catchafire for God” with a melodic chorus, then ragga elements, then rap. It doesn't seem to know what it is as a song and yet it kinda works. “Burn For You” is a nice bit of music and reminds me of some of the early work of DC Talk, with a catchy rock feel - TobyMac calls out to the Holy Spirit to move to help him feel alive again, “I want the world to know I burn for you.. You lift me up..” In “Hey Now” we have another potentially successful commercial track (reminding me a lot of the UK's 'The Tribe' who ended as a pop-rap band in 2005). This has a blend of elements, letting us know there is one “One love and one God..” Next up is “Gone” which takes a pop rock look at difficulties in relationships. “Diverse City” brings a driving 4/4 beat with a vibe that is slightly reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas / Outkast. “ Ill-M-I” is more of a hip hop rock tune, again very memorable. “Phenomenon” is another track that begins to reflect the other remixes on the album. “Atmosphere” is a slow number with a definite Latino edge - God is always waiting for us to turn back to him. A typically diverse bonus cut of ‘Burn For You” ends things creatively, although once again the track shows a tendency to meander and seems like a remix engineering experiment. Very interesting stuff nevertheless. Not one for the purists, the backpackers and those wanting deep wordplay. However, this is a solid and good piece of work once again from TobyMac and crew. Run Time - 45.20 approx.
Tonex - Unspoken
Tonex (Pronounced ‘Tone-ay’) brings another mix of r&b, a nod towards hip-hop, soul, dance and even some rock fusion, bringing together a polished and creative mix that expresses Tonex’s musical diversity. As you’d expect, the album is brilliantly produced and seems to sit into musical genres through the album (eg ballad / dance). We kicks off with a Summery and grooving lead track, “Fiyah” with a contemporary, horn-filled and punchy edge (as others have pointed out, slighty reminiscent of Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and other tracks off the 'Back to Basics' project). Throughout the album, Tonex displays the sheer ability and agility of his vocals, as in the pumping “Bring It” or high pitched excellence of “Glor3x”. There are clearly a number of influences to Tonex, as displayed in the smooth and downtempo dance edge of “Joy” (with Michael Jackson undertones), the laid back “Blend” and the soulful late 90s ballad style of “Cool With U” (a musical style continued on other tracks on the album) as he checks and balances what he does with God’s will for his life. “When I Call”, with a dancey beat (and a hint of Kanye West’s “Stronger”) is a look at how we know that God will answer when we call. “Sneeze” is another dancey track with a serious edge as we learn from Tonex’s past and hear his desire to express what the Lord has done for him. We end with the grooving “F@ce Down” with a spiritual theme of keeping humble before the Lord, crucifying the flesh and staying face down before God. TBizzy guests on the mic. The only downside of the project is that it feels slightly incomplete (in need of a final track?) and confused at times - perhaps representing Tonex's own struggles. Nevertheless, this is a great album that will appeal to Tonex and other r&b fans alike.
Tony Tillman - The Tillman EP
The first thing that strikes you on “The Tillman” EP is the consistent and high level of production. While production isn’t everything, when it’s mixed with the flow of Tony Tillman and lyrics, it’s a blistering combination. Tillman brings a street flow throughout. “Tailored” glides along with a mellow vibes background mixed with an electronic buzz. Tillman rolls alongside the dynamic vocals of Beckah Shae in an inspiring message about how God has tailor made each of us uniquely. (Video for the song equally powerful). “Hourglass” ft Tedashii, Chad Jones and Rio is a smoother laid back number with a dark bass twisting in, encouraging to make the most of our days. “Psycho” sees Tony Tillman bring an flow firing like a semi-automatic flow, over a southern pulsating break before handing over to Canon and back to Tillman. It’s no psycho who gives their life to Jesus! “Heaven” (acoustic version) is an absolute master class in gentle rolling hip-hop as the evil of this world is contrasted to the perfection, peace and hope of being with Christ in heaven (alongside Jordan Love’s beautiful vocals). This works as a perfect foil to the old skool sounding uplifting groove of the regular mix of “Heaven”, again with the great Sho Baraka.
Trant – ‘A Ram In The Bush’
If “Good Noize” doesn’t draw you into this project from Trant, then you can’t like hip-hop. Seriously though, the track reflects the EP in which a varied range of MCs guest and release their own styles – from laid back tones to the furious delivery from the UK’s Dawyne Tryumf. There’s a number of laid back numbers such as “Say That” and the powerful “No Choice”. But laid back doesn’t mean laid back in meaning. Far from it. There is both great storytelling and deeply moving lyrics throughout. Other tracks have an older skool (yet tightly produced) west coast, almost underground feeling (“Wildflower”) with some build ups and break downs alongside tasty fresh vocals. Any project with Braille in gets my vote and his brilliant and verse on “Cold Blooded” reveals the human condition through clever wordplay. With great production, soulful licks and hooks and smoothly rich flavours, the only disappointment is that this project is just seven tracks. If this album was a painting, it would be a watercolour, seamlessly fused together with colour and tone.
Tre9 – The Farmer
“The Farmer” is best summarised by the fun and harmonica-filled intro track, “Welcome to my field, there’s lots of fruits and vegetables. Come and take a pick from the variety” as Tre9 musically rhymes his way through the intro as he drops his seeds to rep Christ (“different seeds for different soils”). Variety is the spice of life and while the album has a dirty south feel, its remit goes beyond this with a mix of different producers. “I Be Comin’ Thru” is a serious head-nodding fist-pumping anthem with a “real hip-hop” feel, with a rolling thrust and a lowdown to Tre9’s heart and his music. There are lacings of r&b vocal hooks, “Rise To The Top”, “Bob Yo Head” and the lounge-rap smoothness of “Night And Day” expressing love for Jesus. A classy, flamenco-flavoured track is “Angelina Part II” which mixes Spanish and English lyrics and Tre9 brings an incredibly smooth flow that mixes a profound message about fearing God leading to resisting lust. “Put Ya Hands Up” with ColCutz brings a Christ and wife-honouring focused track as Tre9 hypes the crowd to put their hands up and get crunk. Other hype tracks include, “Take A Look At My Life”,“One Question” and “Go Hard” featuring the inimitable Pettidee. There’s a challenge to live the life and give respect in the groovy and fun “Respect”.
Trip Lee – ‘20/20
Tripp Lee ‘s sophomore project, “20/20” was a 2008 release. Originally from Dallas but now coming out of Philly, his album intends to help the listener get to know God better, with a 20/20 clarity. In Superstar, Tripp Lee gets things into perspective over a southern beat, “If you’re looking for a superstar, I ain’t the one you’re searching for…” A standout is “Real Vision” where Tripp Lee addresses a number of issues from people not really knowing God, to evolution (the earth is a masterpiece), to twisting facts, to the fact that God is the creator. The encouragement is to find out what the Word actually says and “embrace the Holy Word that testifies to us about the Saviour.” Tracks like “Inexhaustable” pointing to God’s unfathomable nature drop a rolling beat with a tight flow to match. On the same theme is “Who Is Like Him?” (Nobody). Tripp Lee showcases a variable vocal action through the project from “We Told Em” through to “Satisfaction”. A number of Philly guests really add to the album, from the East Coast “Cling To You” roller with the insightful Shai Linne - to the “Come Close” banger with Flame and Sho Baraka. In “Who He Is”, Lecrae brings some excellent vocals with Cam also bringing the heat on the mic. Similarly the powerful “Eyes Open” showcases the vocal talents of JR. Another track that brings a depth of soul and feeling is the moving, “Relief”.
Trip Lee – ‘Rise’
Trip Lee, now in Atlanta Georgia, brings his fifth solo album out to those in the know and those who need to know! “Rise” is a passionate, hope-filled and honest project that has already touched the lives of many and will no doubt touch many more. With a passion to preach Christ and with theological training, Trip Lee (William Lee Barefield III) has an ability to rap with a clarity that requires the listener to listen through the whole album to fully grasp. With a dirty south current throughout, Trip Lee brings street life and vocals (“Beautiful Life 2”) to inspire and encourage. “Rise” lifts our spirits to engage with the musicianship, soul and lyricism that follows, with hooks aplenty! Standouts include the gritty and lyrical vibrancy of “Manolo” with Lecrae. “All Rise Up” takes a more east coast laid back groove encouraging us all to “stand up for the King cos he’s good.” Production is varied and evidenced in tracks like “Insomniac” ft Andy Mineo. We’re brought back to Trip’s personal journey and testimony of Jesus with “Lazarus” (ft Thi’sl) over feisty southern bass before we head to the end with the “Sweet Victory”. In case you didn’t know: we win.
Trip Lee – ‘The Good Life’
Tripp Lee is back with his fourth album release since his first project in 2006. The 24 year-old from Dallas but now living in Washington DC, brings passion, quality beats and his effortless unique flow with Scripture relevantly communicated. Sho Baraka, Lecrae and J.R guest on the project among many other guests. Tripp Lee varies his flow even within tracks and is renewed by Christ and no longer a robot (“Robot”). We launch into the “Good Life” with the focused and uplifting “New Dreams” ft Sho Baraka and J.R on the hook. “I’m Good” with Lecrae is an exposition over epic, aggressive beat - from Romans 8 with nothing separating us from God’s love (the track also used to highlight the persecuted church). One outstanding feature is the diversity of instrumentals and flows across the album. There’s the classic beats on the rolling but powerful “War; to the mellow breaks ascending into epic synths on “Fallin” (and “Know Me”); to the minimalist standout banger “One Sixteen” (Romans 1.16) with double-timing and pulsating kick. So many quality tracks adorn it’s hard to mention all the standout tracks. Tripp Lee has an album full of beautiful tracks in nature (“Beautiful” to the powerful minimalism of “Fantasy” where the new life in Christ brings the real joy) and in Biblical honesty and inspiring freshness (“For My Good”). Ending out with “Good Life” about love, leaves you with an infusion of the good God-life, hip-hop and the power of the Word thorough music.
T.R.U.C.E - Ready 4 War (Nicky Cruz Ministries)
Unashamedly Christ-centred, commercial, catchy urban sounds - for the streets, from the streets. Awesome stuff.
East coast and urban flavours with serious r&b flavas and tuneful hooks and backing. This has come up from the streets with the message of the gospel clearly and accessibly delivered. This is heavily but not exclusively East Coast in flavour - think Corey Red / Precise with a bit more r&b added in to the excellent mix..
Nicky Cruz has been ministering for the past 4 decades in the streets, prisons and high schools. Since the 90s, came a passion to train others in urban evangelism. Out of this came TRUCE (To Reach Urban Communities Everywhere). This is based in New York and trains urban youth in aggressive evangelism using the tools of urban music and performing arts. This CD is the latest in their attempts to help redeem hip hop youth culture and turn it into an effective weapon fo the Gospel.
We start up with the lively East Coast roller, ‘Are You Ready?’ challenging people to live, pray, believe and receive Jesus, with Stephanie Cruell’s r&b vocals and backing. Great lyrics, such as my favourite, ‘Christ the bread of life, but the world on Atkins..’ Datz Wassup again brings more East Coast gospel street heat, ‘Datz Wassup, Jesus shedding his blood, datz wassup, on the third, he got back up..’ Think 50 Cent.. Go Fast brings ‘fire from above’ with distinct crunk overtones ‘Go fast, let em know, Jesus coming back in a flash..’ Lyrical flows really vary it up - we even enter ragga territory. Bless You features is another banger where r&b meets east coast. Very catchy track and hook ‘All we wanna do is bless you’. Selina Robles lets rip on the mic before Keith Dewindt takes over lyrical duties, both bringing serious heat. Ready 4 War beings an epic sound over street beat. The sung hook is, ‘All hail, King Jesus, you are supreme, and I will praise you with everything..’ Sheena Lee is the 2nd female on the project (sounding very much like Elsie of New Breed). Where U At – yet another catchy commercial track which would easily make the mainstream. Selina Robles is on fire as she hollas at the saints to step it up and rep for Christ. Loved this track and could see this working live with a live drummer.
My Everything is a sung downtempo r&b track about how God is everything.. my daddy, my King, my soul, my redeemer, my brother, my friend, my Jesus.. One for the ladies! Beautiful, worshipful and delivered soulfully by 2 of the TRUCE ladies. Praize – a slightly more upbeat r&b track of praise from Sheena Lee – think Mary Mary.. ‘Praise.. Throw your hands in the air, wave goodbye to your care, cos you know, God has everything under control..’ Praise God in all circumstances – an urban version of Matt Redman’s ‘Blessed Be’ ! Nice musical change up on the bridge too. God is Good – another east coast / r&b crossover with 2 female MCs and singers.. bigging up God with everything they’ve got, spending every day with the most high. What sounds like a kids / teen choir joins in the hook, ‘Every day, all the time, God is good, yes he is.’ Guitar licks, bass and minimal beat only add to the mix. 24/7 – A commercial smoothie (I could see success with this track) – with some dope and accessible lyrics from Alex Arellano.. ‘a true thug, he carries a cross..’ This is a track for the streets and has some great production and a catchy hook, again!
There is a heartfelt message behind every track with some real powerful testimonies and words, most notably the testimony from Ray Nobles on ‘Lost But Now I’m Found’ which captures the street vibe of the CD and the life changing gospel of Jesus. Warriorz Cru – another lively head-nodding commercial track, this time with Ray Robles the sole MC. Immediately I thought Corey Red & Precise in flava, lyrics and delivery. Really nice cut and production from the man WOO who brings an album of top tunes and production.. Come N’ Get Him – ‘we won’t hesitate for a moment, to tell you the truth, it will set you free.’ East Coast grit from David Ham and Alex Arellano. ‘Come and get Jesus Christ if you don’t want to burn.. if you’re ready to turn.. if you’re ready to learn.. yeah his love his firm.’ A challenge to get Christ as he’s better than all the world has to offer. Nice end track. Time To Believe (outro) – a final challenge over strings about God’s plan for your life. A clear call to change up your life to Christ.. Also a challenge to get out there to tell the hurting and dying people with the message, to make a difference.. It’s time to believe.
There is a heartfelt message behind every track with some real powerful testimonies and words, most notably the testimony from Ray Nobles on ‘Lost But Now I’m Found’ which captures the street vibe of the CD and the life changing gospel of Jesus. Run Time - 47.25
Truemcee – Truemcee EP
Truemcee (aka Dai Henley) has a range of experience rapping on the Christian scene and now heads up a church in Trevethin in South Wales. Here we have a 5 track grime EP from the valleys reaching up to the heavenlies! Not interested in hype or making money, but only salvation of souls, Truemcee is involved in a number of projects to rep Christ in South Wales and beyond. We kick off with “Tru Barz”, with Truemcee rolling with the Lord, not being a fake MC and serving the streets for Christ. In “Another Day”, Truemcee contrasts the life and death of Christ for us with the violence and death on the streets, encouraging young people to live another day. “My Girls” is a shout out to the women in his life – giving love to his wife, his mother and baby girl, trying his best to modeling Christ’s sacrificial love towards them. Truemcee is not ashamed of the gospel and living, preaching Christ “Unashamed” and the accapella outro, “What I Do” which challenges people to turn to the Lord right now. It’s why he does what he does as an emcee, church leader and family man.
Truth and TeK – ‘The World vs Your Soul’
Truth and TeK hail from Reading in the UK and have put this album together over several years. Both Truth and Tek (short for ArkiteK) both rap, with Truth handling the beats and Tek handling production. The album brings a pretty funky, soul, underground vibe (such as the standout West Coast sounding, “Victory Today”), showing their influences of artists like Nas, The Procussions, The Roots, Talib Kweli and more. With a groove flowing throughout the album, Truth and Tek bring in a variety of guest artists from around Reading to keep things moving. They drop a number of old skool style samples into tracks across the project (“Fal$e Prophets” being an example as they rightly call out fake prosperity ‘ministers’). Generally the beats are varied (occasionally quite underground in beats and flow – “The Essence”) but across a nineteen-track project there are inevitably a couple of repetitive breaks and weaker songs. But where the beats and production are good, they are very good and really quite uniquely soulful and powerful. One such track is “Fly Away” which is outstanding (in a 10 out of 10 way) in flow, breaks and lyricism –“This world’s so corrupt, unfair and unjust, no wonder no-one believes a loving God could be amongst us.” But as they say, he is and point us to the only answer, the Saviour Jesus Christ (“Life”).
Tunday – Identity
Delivering darts to shake the enemy is London and South East rapper, Tunday with his new project, “Identity”. As the UK scene grows from strength to strength, artists like Tunday are making tunes that demand notice, combining lyrical insight and contemporary references and shouts out. Tunday’s beats and delivery on more on the rap tip than the grime tip which is a sign of the health of the scene. There’s no doubt who Tunday is representing, “so wrapped up in Christ, you can call me a Christian” over a big intro tune. Tunday makes it clear that he is no longer of this world, rejecting the things of this world and living a holy life (“I Need”). There are tracks looking at life on the streets and the ills of society (“Ganster”). Throughout the album, there is little hype as found in other albums. Instead there is an album of poetic depth and answers found in Christ. Musical variance laces the album - the soul-filled, “Things I’ve Seen”, the rolling 4/4 beat driven, vocoded “Transformer” and even elements of ragga. Victizzle guests to add to Tunday’s excellent grime bouncer “Hey”. Track after track exudes Christ, finally ending up with the incredible, “Goodbye World” which is as worshipful a rap track as you could find - Tim Hughes & 29th Chapter eat your heart out!!
Twyse – Who Is Twyse? The Album
It’s actually quite hard to place this album. Twyse, a native of Phildaelphia is described as having a hybrid style and a ‘ministry to many’. In a very real sense this is true, beyond the marketing hype. Twyse lists influences such as Jay Z, Kirk Franklin and Da Truth. This is evident throughout an album that swings from a crunk street sound with west-side Philly influences (“Where I’m From”, “Strugglin”), to the dirty south (“Changed” and “What You Know”), to serious soulful depths (such as “Heaven” and the Da-Truth reminding sound of “Can It Be”). It’s clear why this album has cross-appeal. Lyrically, this is very Christ-centric - think Cross Movement but with a more blunt and streetwise edge. Rhyming styles abound, with simple and clear words that will no doubt engage many. Twyse also drops some tunes that are really quite melodic - and even song-like as in the heavy rock-focused “Who Would”. In “Heaven”, Twyse and the production team even drop a bridge to break up your average rap song formula. The album finishes musically with the truly beautiful and encouraging, “Hold On”. This album has its downs but mainly ups in production and lyrics, but this is a very solid debut project for Twyse as he ministers from the projects to the churches.
Ty Watcher – ‘Ty Watcher EP’
Ty Watcher brings a five-track EP, coming from Waycross, Georgia, USA aiming to bless and inspire others with the music. Mainly with a southern style, Ty Watcher gives it all he’s got, with everything inside him (the pulsating in-your-face “Stomp ‘Em Out” ftg Exzile) as he confronts haters and demons. “Oh Lord” brings a more relaxed groove as Ty Watcher states his love for Christ and stands strong and against the lusts of the flesh with Jesus the only one who can deliver. “Wretched” ftg Dave-O over tinkling piano and sparkly guitar is a gentle anthem to God’s grace. “Superstar” ftg Kemmie-B’s tuneful vocals, brings another slower track as Ty Watcher puts all his trust in Christ, doing whatever God tells him to do. The only response to this is to give God praise. We end with the lead single, the rolling “Shots Fired” with no-one close to our God. Ty cries is time up for us sitting on the sideline while the enemy attacks our lives and relationships. Its time to shoot back, to stand for Christ and proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the world!