Reviews – C (18 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.
Chariots of Fire – Somethin’ To Say
Chariots of Fire comprise Akari Murray aka Angel MC, Jason Strachan (jah-son) and Solomon (Solo). Together with producer Lavard ‘Manifest’ Parks, they deliver a bouncy, crunk-filled album. We start out with ‘Manifest Speaks’ with a stuttering riff reminiscent of Missy Elliot, ‘Get Your Freak On’. Chariots of Fire appear on their album cover with camouflage jackets and this reflects the album. This is very Christo-centric music with an underlying vibe of being soldiers for Christ Jesus, “you can’t be a soldier if you don’t wanna fight” (‘Don’t Mess With Me’). This kind of soldiers for Christ thing has its own following and overall will sit more in the projects and with the kids. Rhythm-wise, Chariots have a good steady flow. Lyrically they point to Jesus, although the vocals could do with being lifted more in the mix on several occasions. Standouts include ‘Bounce Back’ with a pulsating bassline on the hook. Then, ‘Only Your Love’ with a nice vocal hook, rolling bass kick with rhymes pointing to their love of God and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. ‘Conquerors’ points to being more than conquerors through Christ Jesus, over a sweet female vocal lick. ‘Spread Love’ features some nice r&b soulful singing. Towards the end of the album we take a down-tempo turn with more soulful vocals in the challenge to ‘Give Your Life To Christ’. A solid album if you like your crunk hip-hop. Whether they are (as Manifest boasts) “the new number 1 cats on the block” as claimed, will remain to be seen. God, time and their listeners will judge. Run Time – 57.52.
Canon – ‘Loose Canon Vol. 1′
Canon produces and raps through his own project alongside production from Swade Beatz (“Oh Lawdy”), Street Symphony (“Say Yea”) and DeeontheTrack (“Loud Music”). With some fresh production on this mainly south-styled project, lots of sampled cut ups and loops of his own vocals, a contemporary edge and some electronic tricks, Canon shows he’s a serious rapper with tracks like “Tell It All” showing some incredible double-timing MC-ing, as showcased equally on “Say Yeah” (focusing on some issues other albums may pass over). Canon is Biblical throughout (“Oh Lawdy”) as well as referencing rap figures and street slang.
Canon – ‘Loose Canon Vol 2’
Chicago-born, Atlanta-based rapper Canon with a 9-track project, breaking down into a 7 track project, a bonus track and an extended mix of “Motivation”. If you don’t know Canon, he has a fast-paced flow while bringing and using guests for some seriously smooth vocals and musicality – as in “Dreams” featuring legends Tony Tillman and J.C. As you’d expect on a lead track, Canon absolutely tears it up on “Go Off” as the tune and his flow go fast and furious, reflecting a project that is infused with passion and spiritual Word-weapons! Like his mentor, Lecrae, Canon isn’t afraid to step outside of the boundaries of ‘Christian rap’ in order to bring understanding and connection between the two cultures – the banging fire-fuelled “Put Me On” featuring Reconcile and Derek Minor. The powerful bonus track “Reach Into The Night” tells us how God made us from dirt and clay, “then came the Son, gave us a brighter day”. This track is a monster, both musically and spiritually and confirms Canon as a special talent.
Canton Jones – Access Granted
This album isn’t really a hip-hop album, but more of a cross between rhythm & Praise, R&B and touch of crunk’n’b. This contains many beautiful harmonic tunes to worship Christ. The album fires up as it means to go on, with a bouncy crunk track as Canton Jones lays down his credentials, ending with the cry that he’s representing Christ. The album nicely flows from one track to another and we move through many themes, all very Christ-centric with deep sub bass kicks, r&b laced music, beautiful vocal harmonies and synth riffs, live instrumentation to inspire your heart and mind. “General” speaks of the artist’s desire to be a general, a demon-killer. We have a swathe of excellent almost crunk’n’b with “Warrior” (with a double timed verse at the end of the track), “The Password: Jesus” (feat Mr Del). As befits a very r&b album, we have the outstanding and soulfully sung “Stay Saved”, a track getting a lot of props across the scene; “Love Song” with Canton Jones displaying his vocal range over a smooth track talking of God’s love for his creation; “Okay” and “Teach Me Your Ways” (about learning God’s ways). Bringing a distinctive half-tempo beat is “Wishaway”, wanting to wish certain things in life away. “Goin’ Solo” is an instrumental with vocals, without beat. There are more up-tempo tracks like “Everybody Dancin”, “ATL” and “On The Floor”. There is a constant flow of beautiful tracks such as, “Cute Girl” and “Holy Ghost Girl”. We end with a stunning live performance of “The Passsword”. An outstanding album. Run Time – 79.51
Cirus – ‘His:tory’
Cirus beings a 6 track EP filled with a mix of UK hip hop and sounds. Each track features the vocal talents of both Cirus and vocalist Grace (except for the final track where Jemma features). “Choices” features an old skool drum machine TR-303 style break as Cirus brings a challenge about choices in life and choices for Christ – “everybody’s got a choice…” Vocally he brings a breathless monotone type delivery. Springing into “Goliath”, Cirus recounts the true Bible story through energetic UK hip-hop flows with the sung hook reflecting Goliath-fighting situations in our lives. Similar is “Jonah” where the soundtrack just fits and sits together with balance as Cirus recounts Jonah’s story with Grace’s ethereal vocals just adding to the track. Another Biblical recounting is “Samson” which tells it how it is and how Samson lacked self-control over his temper and lust. “I Know” is the personal testimony of Cirus of how God changed him through stages – “I used to build on the sand, now I build on the rocks…” The end track “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do) is a thoughtful challenge to Christians of how to live and how not to; how to speak and not to speak, taking our example from Jesus.
Cla – ssick – “ICYMI”
Malawain rapper Classick (Yankho Zulu) is from Blantyre. Growing up he was inspired by Nas and by the king of pop, Michael Jackson. Also part of rap duo HGA (Home Grown Africa) with friend, Hayze (Sindiso Msungama), this is a solo release from Classick. Musically, the album mainly brings an African style dirty south mix (“Dziya Mushana”), with some meaty beats and basslines (“ICYMI”) – “I Christ You Make It”, encouraging us to push through in prayer. Classick also brings some alternative musicality – with songs like “WWJD” leaving us with a funky, pop almost rapcore flavour (with “Crucified” following a similar pattern). Throughout Classick generally shows good variation, good flows and some creativity in both wordplay and delivery. Occasionally production levels drop and some beats are almost more complex than needs be. “We Be No Shy” is a powerful way to close out the album, with an infectious African vibe as they live life worshipping Jesus and not being shy.
The Coalition – ‘Vol 1’
InvThis is not a traditional hip-hop CD, but almost a hip-hop/r&b/soul/rock musical as Coalition fuse different sounds and production to their message as they seek to allow God to use them musically and to be a positive influence. High level guitar playing, smooth soulful hooks and brass instrumentation and keys play a key role. “Make Your Choice” is a downtempo smoothly soulful mix, encouraging us to make a choice towards God. “God Is In Control” is more like a rocky worship track, as The Coalition affirm that even when things look bad, God is always in control. “Who Was I” has a grooving and highly soulful edge, that is reflected across the CD such as in “More Than”. Rap takes centre stage in “Man Without A Mirror” as we are encouraged to look into God’s mirror (his Word) to see if our lives reflect the King. There are some outstanding performances across the CD vocally and musically. While elements of the production could be tightened or be slightly less complex, The Coalition have produced a very inventive and soulful CD. We end the CD with a powerful spoken track with insights into shootings in the black community. We’re left in no doubt that only God can bring the transformation needed to heal our streets. I pray that Coalition are used by God more and this CD ministers to hurt lives to bring that change.
Corey Red & Precise – Resistanze is Futile (2004)
I’ve got a fair amount of underground rap but for this joint we head up from the underground to the East coast. This combines catchy hooks, commercial beats and samples and takes no prisoners spreading the truth about Jesus. Having seen these guys perform on the Flavor Fest DVD, I’ve been anticipating this album for a while and it just blew me away. Corey and Precise take us on a gritty musical journey of their varied testimonies, street life, a freestyle praying for other rappers, and warnings about the end times and clocking in with Jesus for a 24/7 real Christian life. Corey takes us on his life’s journey in ‘Let there be light’ another track with a dope hook. ‘The Martyr’s Anthem gives shouts out to the ‘first emcee killed for Jesus’, ‘Jesus Saves’ preaches Christ, ‘What’s Goin On’ tells us ‘Without Christ you ain’t goin to make it.. you lack peace.. your soul’s naked..’ They also call out emcees whose message about Christ is hidden. ‘Propaganda’ and ‘No Grey Lines’ preaches directly from Revelation about the last days, telling us we’re for Christ or against. ‘Gethsemane’ urges people to look to Christ’s death for us and look beyond small issues. ‘A Prayer for hip hop’ is a freestyle calling out but praying for secular emcees. This is one album I would recommend playing out to people who like their rap to be hard, east coast, semi-gangsta, gutsy and passionate. It’s lyrically outstanding without being too ‘clever’ and exclusive like some backpacker hip hop can be. Who would I say these guys are like? Parallels can be drawn with producers and MCs like Dre, Nas, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Redman & Method Man etc. It’s on that kind of tip. Highly recommended. Props to Corey Red and Precise for a HHH album that reps clearly for Jesus and cuts it commercially. 10/10. Run Time – 74.13.
Corey Red & Precise – Street Prophecy 2 Mixtape
15 mixed tracks with beats directly jacked from secular artists such as Kanye West, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and more – starting up with a shouts out intro over Alicia Keys, ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ and ending with the purpose of the mixtape over Nas, ‘Heaven’. This is something we’ve done before for fun – ripped beats from the secular, dumped the lyrics and replaced them with ones representing Christ. People seem to like this. Not everyone is in agreement with the philosophy of releasing this on CD, questioning its ethics (not paying for the beats as they’re on a mixtape and giving it away ‘delivery only’ style). I’ll leave it for you to decide what you feel. I understand and hear what people are saying. At the same time these are awesome for giving out on the street / at events. Run Time – just 26.38 mins.
Creature Clan – ‘New Beginnings’
Creature Clan comprise D-Maub and Eric Cross. The album buzzes with energy, life, edge and is inspirational to “represent the Kingdom to the hurts…” (as in the fired-up, “I Go To Work”) DJ Klassy K brings some scratching skills over “The Explanation” as Creature Clan explain how we’re new ‘creations / creatures’ in Christ… A theme taken up by the explosive following track, “I’m A Creature”. There are some slightly more slower joints, “Take Control” feat Kaboom as we’re encouraged to keep going as we let stuff go and give it to God, “..and that can wear you down, but know that everything you’re going through is to get you going to the one who wears the Crown.” There is also “Pobody’s Nerfect” which deals with some deep issues, regrets, struggles and God’s restoration ft Chris Lee Cobbins. We build up into the anthemic “The Light” ft Calandra Williams which uplifts as we’re encouraged to shine bright as Christ gets the limelight. The beats throughout the project are mostly full, creative and entwine with the flow (“Images” ft Ciara Harper and the pulsating bassing “Right Now”). Production is from varied producers and is right up there with anything the ‘world’ has to offer. Nice to see Pettidee drop some lines on the fast-flowing and incredible staccato deliveries on “Let It Burn”. We end out with the crafted and inspiring “Thank You” with Will Hagan and Chris Belmont.
Cross Movement & friends – Gift Rap
Got this after Christmas, though is a Christmas release. But Sphere of Hip Hop were doing a deal and I had to grab it! Well worth the post-Christmas play though. This is a hip hop album for Christmas though it contains enough quality to play any time of the year. It also drops some very neat, tuneful, soulful and r&b hooks across its 11 tracks (even if your CD says 10 tracks). There’s lots of variation from the CM crew (Da Truth, Phanatik, Ambassador, Flame, J-Silas, Tonic and even the UK’s own M.O.D plus others) including some personal songs with real feeling and meaning. If you’re a fan of CM, if you plain like good quality commercial hip hop this is well worth it. ‘Tell You Why’ with Da Truth is the starter track and really gives a good Christmas feeling. But challenges too. Nice. Next up Ambassador spits about when he was younger all he could think of was presents. Now all he wants is God’s presence. Features a soulful catchy hook from Soul. Happy Birthday To Who? is almost a worship track but one that parodies 50 Cent’s hook ‘it’s your birthday’ – but this time talking about Jesus’ birth (as if he was one of the wise kings). Fresh. In ‘Read The Book’ there’s a clever hook over an almost ragga guitar sound, with hints of ‘joy to the world’. ‘On This Day’ is very much a Cross Movement track, reminiscent of Holy Culture and other CM classics. In ‘Love Does’ feat Ruth Gado we have a gentle soulful tune about what love really is. In The King’s Sppech we have MOD talk about the UK’s ‘Queens Speech’ given every year by the Queen. Instead, MOD want to hear the King’s speech – the King being Jesus. Invasion Day sees another very CM style track. In ‘Different kind of Christmas’ we have an emotional true story from Tru-Life – how a brother’s life was in a mess but before he died, he gave his life to Christ. Beautiful stuff. In ‘Wisemen’ we finish with a gentle r&b soulful song for those who need uplifting at Christmas (almost boy band style) singing hope, pointing at Jesus. Great concept well delivered by CM. Run Time – 42.37.
Cross Movement – Higher Definition
CM deliver commercial hip hop, very contemporary feel but with lyrical depths too. Rap reviews.com described CM as ‘the G-Unit of your local congregation’ others call them a holy Wu-Tang Clan.. If you like CM you’ll be feeling this. Contemporary full on gospel message & taste, as you’d expect. But it also has wordplay that will stretch you, alongside smooth flows, easy listening and accessible hooks and lyrics. I do feel CM have really stepped up the game on this album – with genuinely different flavas. Def something I’d use on the streets to rep Christ.
Civilian Affairs – CM bring a military theme (the army of God), encouraging God’s soldiers to ‘steer clear of civilian affairs’ (being corrupted by the world). “There’s a war going on, flesh vs spirit..” As a soldier we have to take care of our souls. No time for a truce, only time for truth.. Redefined – An insightful look at the mess the world is in. CM bring a solution of flipping the world’s ways and redefining in the light of God and his ways.. It’s Time – a challenging track, recognising we all want to enjoy life – but encouraging us to make the right decisions about what they are going to do with their lives.. Hey Y’all – catchy track with CM giving a heads up to people that we need God. Instead of shouts out to each other, this is about repping and giving props to God ‘who changes lives like 9/11’. Lord You Are – a beautiful r&b shout out worship style track about who and what God is, with lyrical insights and rhymes and vocals rolling smoothly.. ‘You’re sin’s antiseptic..’ Hip-Hop-cracy – Calling out the moral void in hip hop culture.. sampling ‘When I Flow’ alongside a lesson in turntablism .. For CM, hip hop doesn’t even know what hip hop is any more. For hip hop to be true to life, hip hop needs to be true to Christ..
Card Shark – Awesome social commentary track taking the concept of a deck of cards, the crew look through different cards (characters in life and hip hop) – Jack of Spades, Queen of Clubs, King of Diamonds (bling) and ending up with the King of Hearts – Jesus Christ, the one who outshines all and changes lives. Questions – Asking big questions over a lazy, laid back roller with strings and jazz bass and keys.. ‘Why… I wanna know..’ This is ‘lounge hip hop’ and is beautiful stuff. On In Here – another very contemporary beat party track – getting crunk, dirty south style with bongos rolling underneath and wordplay as fresh as you like.. ‘They need a higher view, so they can get the vision, they ain’t seeing right, they need this life in higher definition.’ Jerseys & Fitteds – With a sound and concept of a football team, reminding listeners that materialism and even life is only temporary. Those without Christ should ‘switch teams and change their captain’. Big Words – More contemporary hotness, bringing ‘big words’ and wordplay to challenge, question, think. Good hook with vocals following the tune. Epiphany – sung hook, ‘so let it shine’ to Christians challenging us to see Christ as he is and shine with his light. Fresh and uplifting, catchy and accessible. ‘Do you love his truth as much as we seem to love his love..’
Check For Us – Bass line rumbler under synthesized sound. We – Over a violin and cello tune roller, CM drop lyrics about their purpose and life in Christ.. ‘make sure what we give to the people is pure, live life in the light, never take light from the Lord..’ confronting people to get Christ in their life. My Life Cypha – Great use of a soulful gospel vocal – and piano hook which is looped in the main body of the tune under a jazz bass riff, the hook summarises the song ‘I used to think I could make a difference without Christ in my life’ – as members of the crew bring their testimonies.. Guest MCs include Philly’s Lampmode crew, Timothy Brindle and Shai Linne. And the hidden tracks.. The Bridge – old skool break, re-doing an old-skool classic – “The Bridge” by MC Shan back in the 80s. CM flip it to let us know ‘There was a bridge’, meaning Christ. Ferocious turntablism and scratching ends the track with style. Life, Camera, Action – contrasting life, to action on set in front of the camera. Nice. Run Time – 75.03.
Cross Movement – Holy Culture
These cats flow with full-on ‘holy hip hop’ representing about living for Christ. Holy Culture is about pointing people to the Cross – to Jehovah – ‘Rock shows with the Gospel (Gospel), Long as I got breath in my nostrils (Gospel)’ sums up the album – like saying ‘we’re speaking the Gospel cos we have breath and can’t help it’. Just like the Apostle Paul says in Corinthians. There’s a message to other Christian rappers who don’t speak the Gospel enough through their words on albums, suggesting that on some HHH CDs you have to dig to find the message at times. Sometimes this goes a bit OTT as there are all kinds of HH ministries but I feel where they’re coming from. In it’s own way this is a kind of hip hop worship. It’s not like Sinner’s Praise (see below) but this is Christ centred and you don’t need to dig hard to find the message. The production on this album is impeccable with excellent mastering across each track (it makes such a difference). Lyrics are tight, punchy and hold no punches. Inserts feature the crew talking about ministering for Christ and what it really means. There are some mash ups, fast cyphers, more exploration into dirty south crunk territory and some smart rhymes. This isn’t underground, but it’s commercial sounding quality, it’s God in your face through hip hop, it works and it’s quality. Get it. Run Time – c. 75 mins.
Cross Movement Ministries – The Track
Ministry CD album from Cross Movement Ministries. If you know Cross Movement, you know that their aim is Christ, Christ, Christ. This ministry styled CD is part of that aim – to represent Christ in hip-hop, to the church and to the streets, taking the message out. We journey through thoughts as the Cross Movement fam chat and chill together between tracks from Ambassador, Flame, Phanatik, Lacrae, Da TRUTH and Badia Jeter, with music from Official, JR, TRU LIFE and Kevin Arthur. Describes itself as “50% music and 50% conversation about man’s greatest need and God’s greatest gift.. The hope is that you connect with God, and make sure you are on the right track with your Creator.” Run Time – 57.44.
Cross Movement – DVD
This DVD is around 2 hours in length and features 3 main sections. First up is concert footage from the release of the ‘Holy Culture’ album. This comes live from a church in Philly (Calvary Chapel) in 2002. Second up is the track ‘When I flow.. it’s gospel’ from the Holy Culture CD – this has its own video and the full quality soundtrack. Third up is the Cross Movement discography. The UK price for this was £9.99 plus 65p delivery from Cross Rhythms, though it did take an age to arrive. The concert footage includes testimony, talks, as well as many tracks from Heaven’s Mentality, House of Representatives, Human Emergency and Holy Culture. It also features a couple songs from Cross Movement artists with Da Truth, Flame and J.R. This gives a real live feel and sound as you were at the concert which is dope. The concert starts off with the Cross Movement praying and seeking God before the concert which is pretty inspiring. Then its into a journey into ‘Hip Hop History’ moving into the 4 elements of hip hop – DJing, a breaking and then graffiti – before the Cross Movement step up to add the 4th element (and most featured on this DVD of course) – emceeing. Great concept and well thought out. There are some problems with both the quality of audio and camera recording so it can be hard to pick out words and cyphers and the talks wind on a bit. But this is a fresh bit of work, people got saved and it mos def gives you a feel of being there with different camera shots, crowd shots, freestyles, a live band, a real hip hop flava, Spirit-filled and a whole bunch of Godliness and Cross Movement quality. Seriously dope. Makes me want to go back to Philly and work there!
Crossover Cypha Vol 3 – DJ Lopez Mix
Review of this fresh offering from the Crossover will come soon – after I re-stock. Gave this one out to a guy to give to his mate who isn’t yet saved but who is looking for the truth. I pray he finds it, wherever he is. On the CD we have some great offerings from Spec, Rize and the Crossover fam. There’s another Urban D Immigrant remix by DJ Lopez plus breaks for some testimonies from Sabe, Lucy Kyllonen (Urban D’s wife) and Eddie. These guys testify about how God spoke and broke into their lives and of the love and fellowship they found at Crossover. Urban D ends the CD with a ministry track. This is why I passed this CD on. Unlike some mixtapes that can tread a fine legal line by jacking beats from other artists, this is a full-length mixtape in the Crossover ministry style. It’s Latino flavoured at times, east coast at other times. Some of the cyphers are from individual artist’s own albums so this can also give you a flavour of what the Flavor Alliance Crew have to offer. Run Time – 74 mins.
Crossover Cypha Vol 4 – DJ Lopez Mix
Another quality mixtape from the Crossover crew in Tampa. DJ Lopez once again brings heat on this. In my view the hip-hop on this mixtape styled CD has been stepped up another couple notches even from Cypha Vol 3. This progression reflects the progression of the church and the ministry at Crossover, praise God. So what do we have? Great intro from DJ Lopez which kicks into a stormer of a track from Craig Nice getting us to say no to the evil one. Love this. Then it’s one track after another of quality from the Crossover team – Surreal, Rize, Urban D, The R.O.C, Sabe (with Patricia), Beyond Skillz, Reflex the Son, Harmony, Spec with a live track from FlavorFest. This is cut up with some great scratching from Dj Lopez (who also mixed and mastered the CD). Jabo drops some mad beatboxing skills on track 11, you gots to hear this. Awesome. Not only that but we have a great testimony from Nova about how he was saved at Crossover and now uses his breaking skills for God. Annalise tells us how she came to Crossover from the UK (via hubby, skate pastor, Mark Janetta). Powerful stuff about God working on us and believing on God’s Word. Then Kim drops a very dope testimony about how God has worked in her life, very moving. We end up with Pastor Tommy challenging us. Once again a fresh CD mixing beats, scratching, instrumentation, rap, testimonies and more. Great ministry tool. Run Time – 68.19.
Cy – ‘Circus World Event… The Ringleader’
We kick off with Cy bringing a grooving flow as he brings a concept album around the theme of a circus. Rolling, uplifting, head-bobbing and tight East coast beats fill the 19 track project. As we enter the circus with our hosts, Cy, J-Silas and R-Swift, we find that the circus is the world that, “so what you thought was a circus was really a foul place that suffers from a disease outbreak, it’s called sin and it’s comes with a weighty price, the only guaranteed cure is Christ.” We’re called to “Stand Up”, introduced to “The Ringleader” – the devil, in a well-crafted track revealing the true nature of the evil one. Cy tells us his life-story in tracks like “Back Home” ft Enock and “Been There Done That”. Cy isn’t afraid to shy away from confronting and challenging – as in tracks like “Watcha Step” ft Pettidee and Gina V and the motivation-checking “The Flipside Trapeze.” Time after time, we are challenged to put God first and live for him as this is the only worthwhile life. This is especially true of a section of tracks like “The Parable”, “Take A Look” and “Heat.” The project ends with the excellent “Show Time” featuring S.O.M, Icece, Mark-J, Tre9 and Colcutz, all bringing their own style and humour while pointing to one faith and one God. “Bottom Of The Charts” sees us go a bit dirty south as Cy continues the theme of staying low and putting God first!