Here Are The Albums I'm Listening To Right Now! Swoope’s "Sonshine" , Jackie Hill Perry's "Crescendo" , Deepspace5's The Blueprint 3 Outtakes, PND (Sareem Poems & DJ: Dust )'s Diry Words

Swoope’s Sonshine

Sonshine is the Akron born rapper’s fourth album and is right on par with KB’s instant classic, Today We Rebel. Swoope address some tough societal issues, issues often times avoided by Christian artists espcecially when it comes to race and the Black Lives Matter movement. In an interview with Kick The Concrete, Swoope goes into the meaning of the album.

Sonshine is multi-faceted, I almost tried to fit a double entendre into one word. So it’s Sonshine with an O, not a U. The primary meaning is that the Son of God is shining on me and there’s a plethora of songs that refer to that, and not shining in the happy-go-lucky way, but moreso there is an ever-present covering and contentment that I had to find myself was only in Jesus.

Track 6, TSNK addresses the shootings that have occurred with the police and African American victims. He raps, Shot at the stop or found dead in your cell, That’s about as bland as it got for Sandra, Make them casket plans when cops say “hands up”, We got our hands up, don’t shoot
They say “put them cams up don’t shoot” (yah yah). Many fans may be offended by lyrics such as these. Some say it’s better to remain silent and not speak out on issues such as these, but how could Christians turn a blind eye to their fellow neighbor? Read through the Gospels and you’ll see a deep concern for Jesus as it relates to people of all walks of life. Regardless of class, race or gender, Jesus loved everyone and He challenged us to love each other as you love yourself.

Track 8, Black Boy continues to explore Black identity, but this time how it relates to God. It begins by saying, But you are more than a descendant of a slave. In many black families, this conversation is a must have between parents and sons, especially in light of recent events. The song then asks the question, Uh, black boy, black boy, did you know that the world is yours? Take off your natural eyes and put on your spiritual ones, this question isn’t a nod to the film Scarface or Nas’ famous song with Lauryn Hill, If I Ruled The World, it takes on deep spiritual meaning. Swoope answers the question in the same verse:

Your Father built it, presented it to you without a blemish
Your Father’s gifted, your Father’s gift is a sinless existence
No cause for tears when your eye lid is dripping
Wild up with liquid as your soul cries, water falls from those eyes
Cheek rivers roll by, dropping to the concrete, making a rose rise
Black boy, black boy, did you know that the world is yours?
Your Father built it, and he made it with His hands alone
And then He left you with Emmanuel
How to produce fruit

Behind Sonshine’s deep meanings, there’s a masterpiece of production. The album was produced by Kevmo, Natalie Lauren, Swoope and theBeatbreaker. Track 3, Never Left was a signal that the listener will be taken through a musical artistic masterpiece. I’m back like I never left, blessed what you call that, I ain’t came up, God came through, all facts, Errybody got a story, mine ain’t funny
Errybody got a price, mine ain’t money. Swoope doesn’t stop there, but goes on to rap, I’m an Anomaly, Check the gold plaque, ‘Crae, tell ’em we still follow Jesus, They can hold that, I’m back like a chiropractor off of vacation, Couldn’t come home ’til I covered all my bases, It’s it’s least I could do, like I’m working out of Avis, Eyes on Zion, unplug from the Matrix, Now I’m back.


Jackie Hill Perry - 'Crescendo'


It's no surprise Jackie Hill Perry's latest album, Crescendo, speaks volumes about the Christian life. Her songs tackle important issues within the church, firing off passionate, fast-paced verses one minute and pausing for introspection the next. Crescendo's relentless and unrestrained honesty and passion make this collection a necessity for listeners.

"Lamentations" kicks off the album with a reflective track. Jackie all but immediately launches into lyrics as low, steady, bass-emphasized beats lay the foundation for the song. This is no gentle stroll down memory lane - this is a fast-paced, merciless self-review where Jackie details her struggles. Every crescendo starts off low and the song only amplifies this theme. "I'm scared of me, God - terror defined," Jackie fires away, "I need the Shepard, the staff, the valley, the shadow to pass me."

"Fall Away" still brings the listeners to a low point, describing a plea for someone to return to Christ. Keyboard notes blend behind a slow yet active beat, creating a sound that's sorrowful yet hopeful. Jackie's words accelerate across the lyrics, with a passionate, pleading chorus to sandwich the struggles with a cry for redemption - "Lights faded out and it’s dark, but never too far from Him, come back to your first love," the chorus cries.

The crescendo reaches its peak with the title track, trying together the collection with a testimony that ends on a high note. A steady beat is immediately outpaced by Jackie's fast-paced lyrics, throwing the emphasis on the story that she tells. It's a testimony of two people - a man and a woman - going back and forth in both good and bad times. The thread that ties it all together, though, is the work of God - work so evident that it speaks volumes in their lives. This is the peak of the crescendo, the point where God speaks most loudly through one's life. It's all capped off with "Reprise," a worshipful note that ends the album with a beloved hymn.

There's a song in Crescendo for every moment in life - the lows and highs of a walk with God. Honesty and sincerity saturate every track, whether it's filled with bold fire or transparent reflection. Jackie Hill Perry launches into each song with impressive passion and effortlessly connects with listeners through each song. Without a doubt, Crescendo is worth repeated listening. Read More Here

Deepspace5
The Blueprint 3 Outtakes 

Jay-Z's  album, The Blueprint 3, was one of 2009's most successful mainstream releases. During its pre-production stages, freelance producer/beatmaker Alex Goose composed some tracks that that he submitted to Jay-Z in hopes that he would use them on The Blueprint 3. Unfortunately for Goose, none of his beats made the cut, despite their quality and the fact that they sounded like beats you would hear on a Jay-Z album. But Goose was so proud of these beats that he had to share them, and he released them as a free download on his website for anyone who wanted them. This is where Deepspace5 comes in. While working on The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, they took time off, got Goose's tracks (which he titled The Blueprint 3 Outtakes), and composed thirteen fabulous hip hop tracks.

DS5's version of The Blueprint 3 Outtakes (which keep the same title) features five of the seven emcees in the group (there's no Listener or Sev Statik on this mixtape). Despite the release being so out-of-nowhere and having no record label backing, it's still as high quality of an album as DS5 fans have come to expect. Fred B is at the top of his game in "We In Here" and "Goose Needs This" (originally titled "Hova Needs This" on Goose's mixtape). sintax.the.terrific gets his own track on the low-key "Dear Daisy," and the similarly-titled "Dear Winter" gets the similar, one-emcee treatment with the similar-sounding manCHILD, getting a minute to himself. Sivion leads off the thumping beats of "No One Rides For Free," rapping about the free gift of "grace and eternity," while also tearing up the opening track "We In Here."

Playdough and manCHILD are featured most prominently in this mixtape, both appearing on nearly every track. What's interesting is that, while each of the emcees have their own flow style, and they do their own thing here as well, Playdough and manCHILD change theirs up a little. It's definitely due to the beats, which don't really reflect most (or any) of what you'd hear on their own albums. And they both do a great job adapting. Playdough's style seems to have changed the most. The mixtape highlight "Goose Needs This" showcases his usual sound (reminding me a little of his solo track "Don't Drink The Water"), but "Check Me Out Now" has him doing more of a gangsta sound, and his verse in "Brakes" makes his sound comparable to Jay-Z (appropriately enough).

You know you can always count on Deepspace5 to produce a fantastic album. Goose's beats were fresh and clean by themselves, and adding DS5's verses only made them better.  Read More Here

PND (Sareem Poems & DJ: Dust ) Diry Words

The emcee: Sareem Poems from the LA Symphony crew. The DJ: Dust of Mars ILL and Deepspace 5 fame. The project: a duo by the name of PND (which stands for Poems N Dust). For the past four years, the two artists of PND have been working on their first album together, the cleverly-titled Dirty Words. After working hard on it and shopping around to different labels, it finally saw the light of day thanks to the newer hip hop label, Humble Beast. It's available in digital and physical form, and instrumentals of the tracks are also available for purchase.

The duo got together in 2006 when Dust thought Poems would be a good emcee to rap over his beats. Turns out it was a good decision. As usual, Dust's beats are some of the best in the game, with terrific-sounding beats comprised of real instruments. Opening track "Power to the People" has one of the hottest beats on the album. It's very drum heavy with a lot of funk and 70s influence. In fact, there's quite a bit of 70s influence throughout Dirty Words, mixing an overall retro sound with more modern style beats. "Lonestar" acts as the album's first single. The music features some jazzy piano and soulful guitars and female vocal samples in the hook. Dust also mixes some retro, disco-esque style strings with something similar to a Jay-Z track in "Dig Deep." The beat here is a little odd, coming to a stop on numerous occasions during the track, but when it's going full steam, it's very well-produced. Also, some of the piano doesn't feel like it works too well, but that aside, it's quality Dust production. Even with minor nuances like that, it's very hard to be disappointed in Dust's beats. Read More Here

The booming presences of both Poems and Dust are noticeable from the very start of the album. Dust immediately brings you into the PND project with an up-tempo beat that’s rich in sound and doesn’t skimp on the drums. As Poems begins his verse, however, it sounds almost as if this particular beat outpaces his vocals. While this style of and speed of instrumental is not what one would commonly hear on a Poems track, he does ultimately pull the track off successfully, giving the album a strong start. The project presses on after this whirlwind of an introductory track to reveal a steady and methodical piece of work.Dirty Words doesn’t miss a step the rest of the way through as Poems and Dust are able to harmonize their two distinct tastes without one overpowering the other’s. Tracks like “Listen Up,” “Change” and “Dig Deep” showcase the power with which Poems can lay down vocals. Poems’ voice itself is powerful enough, yet he also knows how to impose it on tracks in a way that demands the listener’s attention. Not to be silence despite the absence of his voice, the influence of Dust is written all over Dirty Words. “Power to the People,” “Oz,” and “Give Thanks” particularly have a feel that bear witness to what could be deemed classic Dust. The selection of drums, his patterns of scratching over the track and the samples he chooses to use in Dirty Words are recognizable to even the causal listener of any Mars Ill project. Not to be left without mention is the track “Lone Star.” This track is absolutely masterful. Both artists seemingly maximize on their strengths on this track to create something soulful, provoking and above all powerful. It is one thing to try to comprehend it based on written description, and quite another to behold it for yourself.

With a combination of power, thought, grit and variety, Dirty Words comes out to be a well-grounded album with lots to offer. Throughout the project Poems expounds upon some of his most inner convictions while challenging all who listen to be empowered in the pursuit of a higher good. If his straightforward lyrics weren’t influential enough in themselves, Poems’ powerful vocals assure that the words are driven home. While Poems has his lyrical fingerprints all over the album, this is through and through a Dust project. His sound is unmistakable and the result of countless years of experience. Simply said, Dirty Wordswould not be remotely what it is without the foundation he sets for it. This is a project that exemplifies a culmination of precision in thought and appreciation of eclecticism that should not be missed by any who seek good, fundamental hip hop. Read More Here


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