ip-Hop Reviews – Q to R (21 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.
Rafi-P – ‘The Next Level’
Rafi P was born Rafael Mariano Pauletta, born in the Caribbean, now living and rapping across the Netherlands and across Europe. The project has a dirty south edge, with Rafi P bringing his distinctive tones and lyrics throughout. “Bounce Back” is a southern-styled bouncy track as Rafi P takes his sword to fight off the devil attack, with an assurance that whatever comes, he’ll “bounce right back”. On “Battlefield” Rafi P’s fast yet smooth flow lets us know that in a world full of violence and trouble, we can’t live without Christ. “I Don’t Think So” (with a slightly overly looped break) lets us know how the world wants to leave God out of the equation, calling out people who say they love God but whose actions don’t reflect it. “No Doubt” is a smooth piece of r&b hip-hop fused freshness featuring the effervescent Mista & Mrs Taylor. Some tracks have that crossover appeal such as the more east coast “All Mine” featuring Nikki Hayes and “I Need U 2 Survive” featuring Ifeanyi – “One God, one love, one faith.” Varied production aside, this is an exciting little project with Rafi P bringing his own European / US flavas.
Raphi – Cali Quake
One of the Tunnel Rats, Raphi has played the UK and features with Propaganda and the TRZ heads on the ‘Battle for the Streets of LA’ DVD (out in the States only). This has got some real hot tunes on which you can also get on vinyl from the sphereofhiphop.com store. Starts with an intro from the streets of Cali to give you a flava of what to expect on the album, dropping a West Coast feel with some double-timing and rhyming on the lyrics aiming to ‘shake it up.’ A fantastic groove and rolling break underpins one of the lead tunes on the album, ‘Connect’. In ‘Welcome’, Raphi reminds us that he ‘rised in the west I’ve been grounded in the east..’ pointing us to the mix of the 2 flavas prevalent across the album. A dope flamenco guitared riff on ‘Then and Now’ is one of my favourite tracks, where we hear some of Raphi’s hip hop history, reminding us there are many seasons in an emcees life, watching the hip hop scene change. The album is laced with some fairly heavy beats and has a fairly hard edge flow and beats, repped by songs like, ‘It Goes Down’ – ‘Stop-Look-Listen’ and by the mock-up ‘Beat Battle’ rapped over a near drum and bass paced beat. A head nodding and catchy ‘Foolin’ rolls along – ‘this life is full of shackles and chains..’ My favourite track is ‘Street Chronicles’ which mixes a riffed guitar tab, over a rhodes sound, deep bass and nicely EQ’d beats, with a great flow from Raphi, some ill and thought-provoking lyrics about street life and a beautiful hook and chorus. Great album. Dope production too. Run Time – 68.09.
Rapid Fire – God Of This City
Rapid Fire, coming out of Clinton Arkansas stands for Rhythm And Praise Innovatively Delivers Fire In Real Evangelism and comprises Rocky “T-Rock” Thomas and wife Mandy (along with son Blaze). Rapid Fire Rapid Fire Ministries implements a combination of singing, martial arts, drama, hip-hop dance, rap, and preaching in presenting the Gospel message. Rapid Fire kicks off the project with the declaration that “He’s the God of this City” and the “God if all America”. The album is a passionate and mixes furious rhymes (“Marchin On”) with a spirit of worship – the dancey “Praise The Lord” to the vocals of “One Of The Nine” looking at being ungrateful unlike nine of the ten lepers (Luke 17). The album is thoroughly Biblical and Christ-focused with a mainly though not exclusively a southern flavor both in beats and delivery (“Lift Him High”, “He Is Jesus”, the high energy of “The Saints”) but with a rock edge at times (“Genesis” and “The Blood”). There is a personal edge to the project with a clear heart of compassion (“Prodigal Son”). There’s a number of jump-up and uplifting southern grooves as Rocky rolls – a nice touch is the guest vocals of son Blaze on “It’s All Good”. Nice! You get value with a 21-track project too.
Rawsrvnt – ‘Breathe’
Some people may be familiar with Rawsrvant, hailing out of Florida and part of the excellent Flavor Alliance fam. His album, ‘In Rare Form’ was a worship album, re-mixing worship songs with a contemporary, dirty south style and Rawsrvnt’s gravelly voice that cruised over mellow tracks. The latest album is more of an extended EP, with Rawsrvnt offering tracks such as “Breathe”, “Holiness” and “Submit” with new mixes and instrumentals of each. One reason for the project is that instrumentals were often demanded by those wishing to include Rawsrvnt’s worship remixes into their own services. The Lisa McClendon mix of “Breathe” brings a refreshing and pure air vibe to the already classy original. Audrey Assad adds some equally potent and outstanding vocals over the top of Rawsrvnt in “Holiness”. Other different sounding remixes are added in to both tracks too. Rawsrvnt adds in two other tracks – the laid back “Take Me” featuring Naiomy, one of the excellent worship group ‘Harmony’ from Crossover Church. We end on a high, with a more lively and guitar-heavy, “Ring That” as Rawsrvnt lets rip with a rolling dirty south jump-up track.
Rawsrvnt – ‘Chopped And Screwed’
Eddy ‘Rawsrvnt’ Puyol, hailing from West Palm Beach, Florida is known for his growling dirty south style rhymes as well as his amazing southern styles worship remixes and infusing different flavas into his hip-hop. Chopped and screwed is a turntable technique that sees the DJ cutting up, scratching and manipulating original tunes and breaks to slow down the tempo to 60-70bpm. The project showcases the chopped and screwed technique effortlessly with the combined talents of Rawsrvnt and DJ Primo. On “Breathe” and many others we find a great example of this with amazing cuts, and it’s fascinating to compare original mixes with the DJ Primo. Tracks have been taken from many mainly on Rawsrvnt’s “Makin’ Moves” project (but also from “Breathe”) and given the treatment. Tracks like “Help Me” showcase other techniques with the original track having been slowed down to lower the tempo. Tracks like “Go” and “Romans 12” almost enter a new hip-hop style territory from the original, while other tracks preserve their original flavas like “Take Me” (off “Breathe”), while others become more of a mix of styles “Tell ‘Em” and “Enough”. We end out with “Tears 4 Peers” and “Hold On”, two more tracks brilliantly cut up, chopped and screwed. Pretty much a first for the ‘gospel’ hip-hop community and a great showcase for the art.
Rawsrvnt – ‘Love Deluxe’
Another varied album from the vocals, skills and mind of Florida’s Rawsrvnt. This time it’s an ‘expanded and rebranded’ mix of the “No Ordinary” album. New takes and new guests give the Grammy-nominated original classic album a new and fresh feel. Most tracks – like the lead track “No Ordinary Love” (feat the silky vocals of Lisa McClendon), the original “On Fire”, “Bow Down” (feat Sean Slaughter) and “Heart Of Worship” (feat Audrey Assad) are very similar, if not the same as originals. In the fresh mix of “On Fire” (now with Richie Righteous) there’s still the incredibly infectious (almost Outkast-esque) vibe as Rawsrvnt rocks out in worship, on fire for God. Another standout is the awesome “Jesus Jam” with KJ-52. If ever you need a banging, party worship tune – get this one playing!! Other musical styles include the reggae “The Almighty” featuring St Matthew. The album also includes a dub version of the same tune. Finally, worth mentioning is that Rawsrvnt adds a beautiful worship mix to the project in the soulful “Beautiful/Be With You” track, replacing the original hip-hop version of “Be With You” on the original album. If you haven’t got “No Ordinary Love” then it’s well worth getting “Love Deluxe”. Worth checking out anyway!
Rawsrvnt – ‘No Ordinary Love’
Rawsrvnt hails from Miami Florida, though his influence and travels have taken him across the States, Europe and Africa. Grabbing the hook off Sade’s “No Ordinary Love”, the lead track brings the hip-hop worship sound that Rawsrvnt has pioneered. He honours God, “I love you my Lord in every single way” with Lisa McClendon soulfully on the hook. The project fuses worship songs and some banging tracks to inspire and lift your spirits, like the bouncy “Jesus Jam” – as Rawsrvnt leads us jamming and jumping for Jesus, and “On Fire” with a fun Outkast-style vibe. Guests like Sean Slaughter vary the vibe as we “bow down to the risen king, bow down to the Lord of lords” and the thought-provoking delivery and lyrics on “Be With You.” Other remixes include an up-tempo Matt Redman’s “Here I Am To Worship” with Audrey Assad, and a reflective updated mix of “Holiness”. Other musical elements bring different flavours, including the funky grooving “It’s True” and the reggae-infused “The Almighty” and a dirty south banger with “Ring That”. A well crafted project, with engaging, clear and deft lyrics and music. True hip-hop worship.
Rawsrvnt and St Matthew – ‘Soul Deep’
If you’re looking for a mingling of reggae, vocals and hip-hop, this project with Florida’s Rawsrvnt and Jamaica’s St Matthew to check out. “Almighty” (available on a couple of Rawsrvnt’s albums) is a reggae worship tune fusing Rawsrvnt’s vocals into the mix. A dub version is also included as the EP’s final track. “Love” is more of a reggae tune reminding us that all we need is love from the King of Love. “Forever” is a Scriptural and gentle, worship focused song as both Rawsrvnt and St Matthew sing their worship and praise for all time to God. Through the album, God is lifted up and credited, given all the glory (“Won’t Stop”), with St Matthew showcasing his reggae skills, complimented by Rawsrvnt – as they are through the album.
Readyrok – ‘Soul Grind’
Readyrok (Britton Keeler) is an up and coming artist hailing from Florida, with a background in gospel and in audio recording technology. With his own studio, Readyrok, he interlaces hardcore baselines with his heartfelt melodies, “The O” and “One” among others. His style is best described as dirty south, Florida style. Think sub-bass kick drum grooves, claps and tingling hi-hat patterns rolling underneath a laid back and laid back flowing delivery. The main exception to this is “Soul Grind” with some heavy guitaring and hard beats – a nice change up on the album. Readyrok shoots from the heart in a varied album of positive and conscious rap. Mostly Readyrok brings a delivery that flows with his beats (“Eternal” featuring Analyze). Other times the flow is very repetitive, as are too many of the beats. Not so much a criticism, as an inspiration for us all to keep moving forward. This debut album by ReadyRok looks at sacrifice, war, personal struggles, opportunities, and love, but most importantly it brings the message of Jesus to the lost soul with the promise of eternal life. “I’ve got to reach out to the streets with this fire,” he says with sincerity. We end the album with “I’m Yours”, a more up-tempo and chaotic mix that works. This takes a few listens to appreciate Readyrok’s style but overall an OK project – in need of growth, especially in terms of delivery and beats. Run Time – 47.14.
Real Lyfe – ‘First Class Life Mix Tape’
Out of Taylorsville, North Carolina comes Real Lyfe with a mixtape. Real Lyfe has a clear passion to see people turn from the gods of this world to the true God. From a life that had gone in the wrong direction, Real Lyfe brings a passion to rep Christ every day all day and see others turn from wrong lifestyles to Christ (“He Got Watcha Need” plus “Everyday All Day” and many more). The essence of the album is having no other god before God, proclaiming Jesus is Lord. Overall production is quite sharp with a couple of uplifting moments (“Celebration” with its grooving vibe and hook, “We all about Christ” and the standout “Everything I Can”) with some production that doesn’t quite come off (“Bout Face”, “Father Protect Me”). This leads to an album that varies between slow, low-energy tracks and songs that sing and rise up. Real Lyfe gives God praise with his beats and his lyrics, showing that musical worship goes beyond the contemporary rock anthems! We roll out with “Saved” – serious business that confronts people with the missing piece of their life’s jigsaw, Jesus. “I’d rather be broke than be Christ-less…”
Reconcile – Chronicles: The Lineage, Life & Legacy
Big Rec delivers his first solo album with a screamer. This crosses the life, legacy and lineage of Reconcile – his roots, his fam, history and future. It’s a hip hop timeline. Rec delivers some very very tight lines, with clarity that you don’t always great (great production, articulation and mic). This veers from dirty south to a very mid-west sound and reflects his life, where he’s lived and where he’s coming from. It starts up with the Intro in which Rec explains ‘..my existence is bringing the truth to light..’ over high pitched vocals, beats and a ‘spaghetti western’ sounding trumpet! In ‘The Antidote’ Big Rec brings the heat explaining the ‘antidote to promote life’ over sampled piano and trumpet. Next up is ‘Many Waters’ which is an ode to Guyana, part of Big Rec’s heritage. Also dropping on the mic is his first cousin, Omniblaze. ‘Nostalgia’ brings an awesome riff and hook with Reconcile bringing the vocals reminiscing of his memories of his childhood, activities and hip hop life back in the day, a track with a beat that reminds of Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Mahogany’.. ‘it’s hard to see where you’re going if you forget the past, let’s reminisce over good times..’ Dope tune. With the beautifully crafted and delivered ‘Split Decision’ Reconcile brings his words of hope to those who have gone through divorce. In his case, he ended up being the method God used for reconciliation, ‘all things work for the good of those who love the Lord.’ Boom. In ‘Stealth’ we have one of the lead tracks over crunk beats and toms, conga drums. In this Reconcile identifies that he has been just below the surface in the game for 10 years – in his words, ‘incubated by the Most High..’ and ‘..the best kept secret is off the shelf’. In ‘Process’ Reconcile brings more heat, fast delivery mixed with passion about the cost of it all – ‘life is a process.. live life, rep Christ, lay it all on the line’ – featuring Drastic of Remnant. In ‘Under The Influence’ we hear from The Word that a double minded man is unstable in all (James 1.8) talking about the inner battle in our minds between the old and new self.. brought beautifully by Explicit and Vandal of the Mass Reality Crew. The ‘just because song on the album’ comes in the form of ‘wRECshop’ over a dope beat and hi-hat, mid-west combo big party track. ‘Eleventwentyone’ is a sweet number dedicated to his wife and their lives and how they met, aarrrhhh.. ‘All In The Fam’ brings some more vocalism and high pitched samples – it’s a family thing as the Mass Reality collective bring the rhymes. In ‘The Don’t’ we hear a cry to not be a clone MC. ‘Slave Trade’ brings a real nice ‘slave’ sample but Rec turns the concept of the horror of slavery to reflect the slavery of the mind that people have in religion and life. Jesus is the way out of slavery to true freedom. ‘Good Newz’ is a track reaching out to the homies on the block – Jesus reaches all. We then have an Outro with Rec thanking everyone, ‘challenge you to examine your own past, present and future’ – moving on to 2 hidden tracks. Essential. Cop it. Run Time – 67.19.
REGIMENTS – Down Tha Hype
2 track EP from London grime MCs. The UK has often struggled to market its hip-hop in the face of the US market and a larger hip-hop market, especially in the Christian scene. However, Greenjade, MOD and 29th Chapter among others, have proved the UK scene is distinctive and a force to be reckoned with. The UK has also been responsible for new music genres such as jungle, drum’n’bass, dubstep, UK garage and now UK grime. Grime, which came out of London, delivers sub bass and fast gritty syncopated rhymes. Regiments (aka Deepman and A dot Angel) deliver 2 tracks of upbeat positive Godly grime, first and foremost representing the Most High God. Bring it. We need more Godly urban artists – in hip-hop, grime and r&b. Bounce, bounce.. UK represent, lookin’ forward to the full album!
Revolution – The Hip-Hop Matrix
Uk hip-hop represent! This great album is quite conceptual, with the artwork and the album title basing itself on ‘The Matrix’ movie, as evidenced in the intro track, “What is the Hip Hop Matrix”. Right from the off, we have a very creative album, in every sense – from beats & cuts from DJ Nightfall (Rob Hinds) – and vocals & delivery from Otty Warmann. Track 2 on the album presents the listener, “The Manifesto” cleverly lists the tracks on the CD explaining the meaning behind each. There’s some interesting deliveries across many tracks, including “A Story” with some rap and double tracking and “What’s Up Wit Society” with clear and varied flows. In “Imagine That” and “Choose”, Otty displays some very smooth delivery that just flows sweetly. There’s also some nice backing vocals on the hooks of a number of tracks (“Party Right”), broken up by tracks like “Between The Stars and The Grave” with samples carrying the hook. We strip down to a beat and delivery on “The Music” which works very well. Content wise we have rhymes about God’s work in Otty’s life, conscious rap, looking at our messed up society – and offering hope in God. We end with “The Altar Call” – a nice roller to end. I genuinely look forward to the future for Revolution as no doubt they step it up further.
Revolution – Life On Five Inches
Otty Warmann aka. Revolution is back with a new product and the step up we hoped for is evident. Production levels are upped, as are beats and delivery in every area. This album is a mix of life exhibited to bring God to life, with an album combining r&b and rap. We intro the project with an overview of the album, encouraging people to hear the words, open their hearts and hear the spoken word, rap – can you handle that?! Track 2 is ‘Refiner’ and over a sax lick, r&b vocals and some beautiful harmonies gives us a glimpse into how God has used Revolution’s life experiences to change and refine him, ‘my Lord is refining me each day’. I was definitely feeling the wordplay around the difficult times being when God chooses to shine and refines us – offering God praise. Word to that! In line with Revolution’s cry at the start of the album, seeking revolution not religion, “Change G’on Come”, Revolution preaches that the revolution is already here – as God’s Spirit and love is manifested. This is a challenge to the world that its values and materialism are only temporary. This is another sweet track, with a nice piano track and live-sounding drum patterns. Revolution flows incredibly smoothly with an energy and passion. Great hook. “Dreamin” is another r&b styled and highly Biblical track where Revolution expresses his belief that there will be a brighter day – quoting Scripture through the track, ‘keep pushing for a brighter day.’ A positive uplifter. We take a trip down memory lane in “My First Love”. A nice track with piano riff and heavy bassline, over a minimalist track and slightly darker, slightly muffled beat, giving his love to God. “What is Peace” is a quality piece of wordplay, over a gentle background flow. This is a discussion about peace and what it is, where to find it – “I find it in me when I’m doing what the Lord has purposed me to do..” We cover many bases across life. Revolution concludes that “The Lord is peace.” Amen. A fresh ending comes with an acoustic guitar based remix of “Change G’on Come” which is a very dope piece of work. A quality project from Revolution, I’d encourage someone to sign him up! Revolutionary education indeed!
RH – ‘Still Ticking In The Name Of Jesus’
RH is an upcoming artist hailing from Topeka, Kansas seeking to minister and example the Kingdom of God through rap, his testimony and work across the community. Having been saved from a life of materialism and drugs by God, he seeks to lift the name of Jesus higher as in “I Present Christ” revealing to all that he is “the way, the truth, the life.” We kick things off with a testimony to God, “Wow”. RH explains he was, “I was lost and now I’m found… Nothing but the blood of Jesus, wow!!” The album is full of testimony and declaration to God, filled with Scripture as on tracks like “No Fear” and the pulsating and sub-bass driven “He’s Good”. It’s not just a southern style project. “I Need You” takes things down a touch as things get all smooth, “Lord, I really, really need you… I need your help.” This contrasts nicely with the more funky and grooving, albeit short, “Think It Over.” There’s a nice little gospel choir parody in “Offering Time Interlude” which is a great touch. We exit as we start, a track giving glory to the King of Glory, declaring his praise as we “Go Bananas” for God and his work at power in our lives. RH brings a slightly muted production at times but great lyrics, delivery and focused solely on Christ.
Richy D – ‘The Exposure Promo’
This promo CD gives us 13 tracks and 13 insights into UK artist and hip-hop minister, Richy D and collaborating artists, before he releases his solo album proper in early 2009. Richy D has an easy to listen to style with insights delivered clearly and creatively, as demonstrated in ‘Introduction’ – Richy adding some some interesting slurred lyrical moments. Standout tracks include, “The Race” as Richy encourages us with an undulating flown and a rolling beat. “Watch Out” is also a fave as Richy ft Kyra Rowe warns us to watch out for the enemy, the signs of the times – giving it a contemporary edge while relating us to the warnings given by Jesus. A real head-nodder and with Richy’s characteristic smooth flow. There are some more underground moment with equally profound lyrics from Cas Metah as – like Tribe Called Quest – he encourages us to “Rock Rock On”. The excellent producer and MC, Re:Flex adds another flava and distinctive flow in “Breathing Classes”. Tia Stewart adds her flow into the mix with tracks like “Jesus Kidz”. The album ends with a word from Richy and “No Title, No Hook” with all guests making an appearance. Tight project – but very much looking forward to Richy’s solo album.
Rob Hodge – Born King
We fire up over piano melody recounting the birth of Philly’s Rob Hodge, with a purpose birthed over his life. This spills over into the first track, ‘I’m here’ which brings some of the history of Rob Hodge, over simple break and strings/harp riff. Rob Hodge is here to bring the antidote, Jesus. ‘Revolution’ is underpinned by a airy and sweet beat from Kid Classic. Revolution is about making a permanent change in people’s lives beyond the now and the bling – ‘hold tight cos we’re gonna change the world.. prepare for the revolution’. The album is laced with humour throughout by the fictitious ‘Rev Tithe’ which is a nice touch and a call out to some pastors and their ways. ‘I’m Rich’ is a big crunk bass-drum banging monster, easily able to sit alongside anything in the charts. Lyrically, Rob Hodge is on top form and brings a life and depth to the track. As you’d expect, the album is full of references to contemporary culture, figures and events. ‘Conflict’ is a more downtempo track looking at conflict and pain, ‘enough with the conflict.’ Another dope beat with ‘The Suffering’ dedicated to all those suffering, pointing to trust in Jesus, the one who will care, ‘who knows you’re suffering’. It encourages us to think about those less fortunate, and about the blessings God has given us. Another synth riff and vocal hook over big beat sees ‘The Hurricane’, where Rob Hodge brings another smooth drawling track. ‘Determination’ is one of the standout tracks on the album in my view. This downtempo, smoothy is really quite beauiful. This is about moving on, being determined, doing your thing. This is about the hard times and never quitting. Nice hook, great storytelling and powerful with a word from Rob Hodge over organ and inspiring riffs. ‘Tears’ is another powerful testimony track, featuring Japhia Life. In ‘So Far’ we find just how far that Rob Hodge has come through his life to the present, as he recounts his life story. in ‘Most Hated’ we have a more east coast hip-hop feel, which changes things up nicely. This is a track about the haters and enemies that Rob Hodge and his crew have faced. ‘Thank You’ is a shout out to God for a life that can be lived intact. A tightly compressed beat with vocal elements (a common element across the album), sees Rob Hodge ride the beats with insight and a tight flow. Another standout track. ‘Outcast’ is a track from God, speaking to those who feel down and out, the outcast. Janae provides the hook. The chilled ‘Red Carpet’ tells us that no matter who you are, you’re a star on the red carpet of God’s eyes, in Christ Jesus. ‘Pretty Ugly’ takes us on a Jamaican ride through some ragga as we see the ugly side of life. ‘Look At Me Now’ provides a tuneful roller of a beat. Rob Hodge spits a nice rhyme scheme about where he is now, compared to some of the guys who used to run with, urging people to look at where he’s at now. ‘The River’ is another highlght, as Rob Hodge encourages us to take to take a trip to the river, where God can fill us up and wash us clean. Nice vocal hook, smooth delivery, simple and deep. Yet another standout is ‘Free’ with a piano riff and light yet bass drum heavy break / sweet vocal hook. We can all be free – as Jesus can set us free if we come to him and live the life he has for us. ‘I’m Ready’ ends with a gentle tune, but with a powerful message of being ready for God. Wicked tingz! Run Time – 76.42.
Roy Tosh – ‘The Revert’
Roy was born and raised in Indianapolis, although he now resides in sunny Orlando, Florida with his wife and son. “Revert” is a 2014 release of mainly southern style hip-hop and follows on from a period of re-branding that Roy undertook with Andy Mineo and Benjah helping. Despite an absence of a miusical background, Roy found that a powerful encounter with God saw the message pour out of him through hip-hop. He’s shared a stage with big name artists such as Lecrae, Jeremy Camp, Andy Mineo, Pillar, Britt Nicole, Kutless, Tesashii and more. The “Revert” album has been downloaded over 9000 times and has over 130,000 listens. Roy has a laid back style but with that brings a clarity, dare I say with even a hint of Eminem in his style. He brings some standout tracks like “Bass Low” which is a party breaking-out bass bursting track. There are moments of introspection and personal testimony “Trust” in which Roy shows his melodic side as well. Tracks like “Take Me Back” also shows Roy is as comfortable on east coast tracks as well. “Break In” and “Fly” also show some great variation in beats and production. The powerful “Revert” ends things on a high note.
RMM – ‘Lions In Suits’
Do you remember a time when you opened a present as a child and your eyes popped out because of the amazing gift you found inside? “Lions In Suits” is one of those moments, like opening up a live box of hip-hop fireworks. Almost before the wrapping is off, you’re hit with “Why I Do It” which sets the tone for what’s to come. With production about as high as you can get, creative beats without becoming indie hip-hop (“Bold”) and vocal deliveries often within tracks (the insanely furious vocalism on “Ain’t Worried”), this is a hip-hop gift that you need to make your own. There are moments of southern sub bass, other genius times of delivery over minimalist beats and then times when the track builds and explodes into life like a lion disturbed from his slumber as seen in the powerful “I’m Not”. All through the album, Legin, Sinai and Mike Bell are on point and living in the truth of Christ and his power. “He’s the lion, better pray he doesn’t prey on you, last time he was murdered he didn’t stay but he was raised for you.” (“Spurgeon Theory). In this case of this ‘present’, opening up not only needs to a brilliant hip-hop album, it also leads to Christ.
R-Swift – ‘Anthem’
R-Swift hails from the excellent Cross Movements Records stable. The project rolls through mainly East coast territory but with cuts from the Midwest and with guests adding extra flava. He’s joined by Jahaziel, Sho Baraka and Monty G in the dancehall salted “No, No, No” as they let rip about their “transformed man on fire” over a remixed hook of the classic “You Don’t Love Me” by Dawn Penn. R-Swift asserts with passion and fire in the east coast fuelled lead track “The Anthem”, “My aim is to see the Lord reign… Bottom line, no Christ, no hope.” Interesting tracks like “The Beginning” assure us that the consequences of sin are death, both spiritually and physically, as R-Swift re-tells the life-story backwards of a lost soul, from death to birth. Social ills and temptations are bluntly confronted through the project “They Callin”. An attention-grabber is an open rhythmic letter in “Dear Mr. President” is R-Swift expressing his heart to President Obama and “telling him how it is.” Another standout is the roller “Flava Of Forever” with the towering triumvirate of Theory Hazit, KJ-52 and Braille bringing their inimitable styles and flows. “Trap Muzik” sees R-Swift step out as he rolls over a dirty south beat as he reveals how the lies of life can trap. “Hold Me Down” featuring Jai and “Chased” bring a more downtempo vibe before we exit with hip-hop worship in “Awesome”. Our God is an awesome God. Amen.
R-Swift – ‘Soapbox’
Passionate gospel hip-hop from the outstanding R-Swift and CMR label. R-Swift is a man after God’s own heart and this is clear from the top track, “Stage Fright” where he prays for God’s help and God’s glory in a world that rarely wants to hear from God. The album is a true hip-hop project, east coast and street in vibe and delivery, with tasty beats and a smooth delivery from one of CMR’s most talented artists. “In Session” spits fire over a full break about God the timeless creator who’s second to none, “the floor is his.” A stand out and positively infectious track is, “Good Morning” as he testifies about God who brought meaning to his life and “turned (his) dark nights into sunshine”. R-Swift consistently serves up challenging and hard-hitting lyrics, such as the break-based, “Freedom”, “..the city is where the mission is and Jesus is where forgiveness is”. We see the superficiality of chasing after things in life in the brilliant, “Gone”, asking, “what do you have when it’s gone?” This is a timely message also found in tracks like “Lifetime”. Powerful questions are asked in “American Soil” where R-Swift relates “what we sowed in the past is what we’re reaping”. The album ends with 2 more great tracks, “Re: Love Letter” and “Me On My Soapbox” re-affirming this is an essential project and essential listening.