“Fedel is an artist who loves God, who loves people, and is here to bring hope.”
On August 22nd, Fedel released an EP called Church Trap. The Dallas, Texas artist considers it to be the best representation of his story, growing up both in the church and the trap.
Though his father was a minister, Fedel explained that the dangerous neighborhood he grew up in made more sense than his home. “My home was so toxic.” His parents were constantly arguing and eventually split. Living in Memphis, Tennessee, known for having one of the highest murder rates in the nation, he was often facing the fear of violence.
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“It was scary at home and scary in the streets. It wore on me a lot over time.”
He describes his upbringing as confusing and depressing, “but on the flip side, it was a lot of lessons I couldn’t learn any other way.” Fedel says that by God’s grace, he was able to make it out and do so with hope. “My heart for people came out of the turmoil and tension of growing up between those two worlds.”
With the EP, he explains the trap to not only be a part of town but any dark place a person may find themselves in. He wants to counter that with the hope of Jesus Christ and the Church. Church Trap was produced in conjunction with D-Hood, except for one song that was produced by JuiceBangers.
Six of Church Trap’s nine songs have been released as singles since December 2018. Fedel decided that due to the songs’ common theme, he wanted to put them together and created three more to go with them. “I felt [like] all of the songs represented a similar hope that I wanted in my music.”
Church Trap’s introductory song, “Church Zoo,” was inspired by Fedel’s high energy concerts. The artist loved listening to energetic trap music growing up and considers it the greatest influence on his own style. He described the song as saying,
“I’mma turn the church into a zoo. It just means that everybody is gonna get crazy, mosh pit in the church. We’re going to go out of this church and be brave.”
When people come to his shows, he not only wants them to have fun but also to receive hope and seek to later share that with others.
“In My Bag” comes from the term which Fedel explains expresses the thought that when a person is having a great day, “you say I’m in my bag today.” He wants the song to make listeners feel good and be confident in themselves.
Fedel’s song “Fear” is largely experienced by his youth. As a child, he suffered from nightmares and also was a victim of bullying throughout his years in school. “In life, you come across things that are scary, and that never ends.” Understanding that fear can be related to countless causes in individuals’ lives, he wants to use this song to uplift listeners. “My hope is that this can be a source of relief when anybody is in that space.”
Church Trap’s fifth song is “God Drip” and is meant to provide listeners with confidence, “knowing that God is in us, and God is for us.” Fedel’s confidence is inspired by his suffering. “For me, going through a really deep depression, things that were hard. I think that in the middle of your darkest times is when you’re the to hope.” He said that during his most difficult days, he was able to hang on to the Gospel message, explaining,
“I believe we should place our value in what God has done for us on the cross. I know for a fact that when you’re numb [and] callous, anxiety has you frozen, those are the times when you’re not thinking straight, and you need something to grab.”
RMG - Whole Team Winning Featuring Derek Minor, Canon, Byron Juane, & Tony Tillman
Whole Team Winning by Derek Minor and his label mates at Reflection Music Group, includes 12 anthemic, team-oriented hip-hop/trap songs perfect for sports placements. After the success of Derek's previous album Going Up, clients from the NBA, NFL, and NCAA requested an album that focused on themes like teamwork, training, and domination, specifically for their summer training camps. Tracks like "Who Gon Stop Us", and "Get Out The Way" are perfect examples of fulfilling that need. Lyrics focused on words like "we", "us", and "team" give this album its unique place in the sports world.
Over the past few years, Michigan rapperNFhas achieved an unprecedented degree of success in both the Christian and mainstream markets. His third (record label) LP,Perception, ended up charting at #1, going on to receive RIAA Platinum certification. Despite the album’s financial success, it was difficult to argue that most of its material was little more than a rehashing of prior albums. One of the underlying issues has been the fact that NF has released his albums in a rapid, yearly succession, offering less time for developing new content, personal growth, and fresh topics. This time around, thankfully, NF has chosen to wait nearly two years before releasing his newest album,The Search.
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This has indeed given the rapper some breathing room, but this improvement is partially undermined by the sheer amount of content. Coming in at a bulging 76 minutes, the 20-track album is a gargantuan beast. The fact thatThe Searchdoesn’t open with “Intro IV” signals that NF is preparing to head in a slightly different direction. Rather, he opens with the exceedingly reflective title track (and first single), “The Search.” This piece, along with the lion’s share of the album, brings a stripped-down atmosphere, à la Dr. Dre, with lyrics offering an inner-monologue regarding NF’s recent successes and struggles: “The sales can rise / doesn't mean much though when your health declines / see, we've all got somethin' that we've trapped inside / that we try to suffocate, you know, hoping it dies.”
Gone is much (though certainly not all) of the braggadocious lyricism and anger which once permeated nearly every single NF track. In their place is a slower, more thoughtful pacing, with a healthy addition of reflection and humility. This helps smooth out the album, preventingThe Searchfrom acting as a codename for “Mansion 4.” This also represents a lot of growth for the rapper, seeing him move past his imitation of KJ-52 and other similar artists. “Leave Me Alone” contains some smart pop-culture references (see:IT), and the par-for-the-course push against the critics and marketers (“I hate when they debate if we're underrated / we're so overlooked that they're lookin' over our numbers, Nathan”).
NF is the master of mixing eerie instrumentation and classic trap drums with heartbreaking lyrics, and “Like This” doesn’t hold back from that at all. There’s no rising action to the profound lyricism, either—it starts with immense emotion and stays that way until the end. In the first verse, NF hits listeners with the pitiful, relatable line, “I feel more together when I am a mess.” NF is reflecting on his relationships, himself and how he can’t get over the past: “Why do I waste so much time on things that I can’t fix? / All these things I hold inside I just can’t forget / Thought that I could let this go.” It’s raw, intense and a reminder of how much power our minds can have over us.
“Nate” opens with signature NF strings and a recording of people singing “Happy Birthday” to a much younger NF. This track’s theme is revealed quickly: This is NF’s advice to his younger self on how to deal with every wretched event he’s about to encounter. Perhaps the most powerful lyric of the track comes early: “I guess the point of it would be to tell that little kid that he’s gon’ take a lotta hits.” The lyric is ambiguous: first, this lyric is literal in that NF was abused by his mom’s boyfriend and did endure several hits; second, NF experienced several metaphorical “hits” throughout his childhood, with all of the suffering he went through. In the outro, NF admits he thinks he grew up to be the person he tried to avoid: “Sometimes I feel like I’ve become what you were scared to be / Which makes it really hard to look at you with sympathy / ’Cause if I’m feeling bad for you, then I have to feel bad for me.” This track will inevitably give you chills, and it begs a rhetorical question: If you could, what advice would you give your younger self?
3. “Let Me Go”
The beginning of “Let Me Go” sounds like the music that signifies an epic cinematic battle is about to occur—and rightfully so. What follows is a fervent conversation between NF and his fears, as he is battling with his own mind and questioning if he’ll ever escape. He makes it clear he’s never felt hopeful: “I pray to God to ask if hope’s real / And if it is, then I was thinking maybe You could introduce us / We ain’t met still.” The lyrics only become more potent: “I’ll teach them a lesson, I pick up the weapon / Aim in your direction, shoot at my reflection / Shatter my perception, hate it when I’m desperate.” The emotions are evident all the way through, and that’s part of what makes NF so special.
2. “Leave Me Alone”
This track exemplifies why NF is the perfect rapper, because he can combine impassioned lyricism with intriguing instrumentation and absolutely absurd flow. The song’s meaning is straightforward, where NF is acknowledging his fame, and he doesn’t like it. He opens up even more about his mental health, disclosing he has OCD and how it affects even his simplest thoughts. One of the themes of the album is black balloons, which seem to represent the obstacles in his life: “Hold up my balloons and cover my face / I can feel them weighin’ on me every day / I should let ‘em go and watch ‘em float away / But I’m scared if I do, then I’ll be more afraid.” This track prompts listeners to realize that even when it seems people with fame have it all, that’s not always the case.
Just when you thought NF couldn’t tug at your heartstrings any more, “Trauma” comes in and proves you wrong. Desolate, Adele-esque piano keys and strings help convey NF’s emotional state in this ballad—a form of song rarely seen in the rap industry. NF takes this track to admit he needs a special connection to help him survive, but he can’t find one: “Grab my hand; I’m drowning / I feel my heart pounding / Why haven’t you found me yet?” He goes on to say this connection isn’t helping him, but he needs it more than ever: “Scream and yell, but I feel speechless / Ask for help; you call it weakness / Lied and promised me my freedom.” The track is bound to make you fall in love with NF’s music if you hadn’t already, and it’s the best onThe Search.
THIS ALBUM FEATURES SOME OF THE BEST STREET MINISTRY MUSIC WE'VE EVER CREATED ALONG WITH SOME OF OUR MOST TALENTED ARTISTS... ENJOY OVER 30 FREE SONGS AS WELL AS EXCLUSIVE GOSPEL INFO AND MORE!!! PLEASE PASS THIS LINK ON TO OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE TRUTH WITH US! GO TO HOGMOB.COM FOR INFO ON HOW TO SUPPORT THE HOG MOB MOVEMENT!
Me and Zay met through some mutual friends. He knew Shawn Holiday, Senior VP at Sony, who helped A&R my last album All Things Work Together.He also knew 1K Phew, a young artist that he was grooming and who I later signed to my label Reach Records.
You and Zaytoven both reside in Atlanta, and the project feels very closely tied to the city. Did you set out wanting to go a certain direction sonically and in your content?
Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of Zay for many years. I just never imagined we’d be working together on an album. But we just had this chemistry from the jump. He actually works a lot like I do. We tend to make song after song. But neither of us like to follow any kind of a script; it’s more of a feeling. That’s how the south moves as a whole, and we wanted to bring that into the music in every way.
So it’s more intuitive than formulaic.
Yeah, it’s like the blues, man. Blues and gospel. You just feel it and do it. I think of people like Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes. They all came out of the south, and they followed a certain tradition and energy. That’s no knock to groups like The Temptations or The Supremes, not at all, but they were way more polished in how they did things. But the heart of the south is based more off of instinct and feeling, and following wherever that feeling takes you. It’s natural, and visceral.
What was the process of writing and recording the album?
We were together a lot while creating all of the songs. It was a really easy process, actually. We would just trade ideas in the studio; he would tell me what he thought a track needed and I would catch a vibe right there and jump in the booth. Or sometimes I would record separately and show him when he came into the studio, and he’d be like “wow!”
LTSA features Lecrae at his freest. Overall, the album captures the essence of Lecrae’s label Reach Records, with an emphasis on the “Reach.” This trap-infused and trap-inspired hip hop album tells a different side of the story to and from the trap, while reaching an audience that may be unfamiliar with the Atlanta-native artist.LTSA also bridges the genre gap for everyone who decided to stick with Lecrae after his controversial 2017 album,All Things Work Together. WhereAll Things Work Together weaves in and out of Lecrae’s story about his struggle to find peace being himself—save the evangelical backlash for speaking on issues of justice—LTSA unbuckles the seat belt and mashes the gas straight into a culture that’s known for glorifying the struggle of the trap.
But it’s not just talk and rapping; Lecrae uses his talents to aim at the hearts of men, even when people don’t understand his message.
You may be wondering what is meant by “the trap”—it’s a two-fold term. According toUrban Dictionary, the trap is a house or neighborhood where “people there are stuck in a cycle of selling drugs and hustling to survive, and are therefore ‘trapped’ and unable to leave and make a better life for themselves.” The original connotation refers to a house in a low-income neighborhood where drugs are either manufactured, sold, consumed, or all of the above. It is a place where money and weapons are also likely to be. If the house gets raided by law enforcement, everyone present is essentially “trapped” and could face extensive jail-time.Trap,as it relates to the music, is a particular style, or sub-genre of hip hop. The sounds of trap music are usually heavily laced with808s, auto-tuned rap vocals, pipe flutes, and thick snare kicks.
But this is not an educational album about the trap—itis authentically trap. Lecrae merely reveals a different side of the genre and the lifestyle. Teamed up with award-winning producer Zaytoven, the duo produces a collection of hits that is authentic and inspiring.
In case anyone wondered if Lecrae would sacrifice substance for style, he poignantly puts listeners on notice in the opening track when he starts to get “too deep.” The assumption is that he “better fall back.” But armed with a mission that hasn’t changed since 2007, he warns everyone listening that they’re going to “get this work, you shoulda wore a hard hat” (“Get Back Right”).
Like all his previous albums,LTSA aims to “heal the blind with a speech” (“Preach”). But it’s not just talk and rapping; Lecrae still uses his talents to aim at the hearts of men, even when people don’t understand his message. In the bass heavy and vibey “Holy Water,” he addresses the people that “say he forgot that truth, Now all he talk is money,” to which Lecrae responds: “I say truth is that my people in the hood and hungry,” afactto which an uninformed audience wouldn’t “really know (ishis) calling.”
Probably the most surprising track—“2 Sides of the Game”—is so for a couple reasons: it features Waka Flocka Flame, an in-your-face, brash and most notably violent lyricist, and it is a song that warns of the consequences of the trap—facts not usually heard in the trap sub-genre. Lecrae and Zaytoven’s ability to get an artist like Flocka Flame to rap about the dangers of trap life is a talent in itself. Flocka raps, “A thousand eight grams get you 32 bands, Or 32 years with some cell mate fans.” Overall, the track works as a cautionary tale as Lecrae raps about his uncle’s downfall and as Kso Jones raps on the hook, “You get rich off of dope if you let em tell it… They gon make seem like that lil money worth your freedom.”
Never one to highlight problems without possible solutions, ‘Crae unashamedly redirects his audience to a richer and better source of security on the next song, “Plugged In.” In a not-so-subtle message, he points to a person who’s always available to supply all his needs: “I got a real plug, Never let me down.” “I told em, ‘Buy a business get a house, Take the money rinse it out.’ ” For Lecrae, the goal is always to lead souls to greater freedom, and the way he sees it, “They don’t want you free, that’s slavery, don’t play with me” (“Plugged In”).
Why was it important to you to show a different side of the trap? You seem very intentional about offering people a different angle from what they might be used to.
I think a lot of people don’t realize the diversity of the trap. Especially people that don’t understand what goes on in some of these communities. They don’t see the nuance. They only see the dope pushers, the money, the crime, and all that.
They don’t see the circumstances that might lead to people embracing a particular lifestyle.
Right, and these are real people we’re talking about. People with real emotions and thoughts, hopes and dreams. A lot of the time, the stories that get told are the ones that folks want to hear. They want to hear a story that sounds like an action movie. They don’t want to hear about growth, intelligence, and development. But all of that is there. I’ve seen it. My man T.I. has seen it. Killer Mike has seen it. 2 Chainz has seen it. And we still do. We’re all intelligent entrepreneurs. So yeah, we can tell you horror stories all day. But we also want to tell hero stories. The question is, what do the people gravitate toward the most?
You've spoken a lot in the past about the struggle of having to grow and mature in the public eye. The scrutiny that comes with it. How do you deal with people's expectations of you these days?
Truthfully, I’m at a point now where I’m not even worried about what people think I should be saying or doing. They don’t tuck my kids in at night. They can’t answer to God for me. I’ve got to be who God created Lecrae to be. That’s all I can do. Anything else just makes me a slave. A slave to the opinions of people who don’t know me; a slave to their money; a slave to their desires for me. But I don’t have time to focus on that. I’m free. So, every time you hear me, just know that I’m speaking as a liberated person.