Something for Everyone to Hate - Sackcloth Fashion
Admit it: Christian hip-hop has not always had the finest reputation. Clumsy vocal delivery, cliched lyrics, and the cheap production are just a few common problems. The latter in particular can be a serious obstacle for groups who cannot afford the royalties that can come with sampling other artists. That means a fledgling act can either assemble a live band (which can be costly) or program its own beats and hooks (which can sound contrived).
Sackcloth Fashion does a little of both, and the result is a fine debut.Something for Everyone to Hatesometimes finds itself propelled by live drumming, such as on "Spoon Fed Gospel." Other times guitar (and Jewish harp!) accentuate the rhymes, as on "Dang." Solid programmed beats aid MC's Steve Trudeau, Tim Trudeau, and Luke Geraty on "Rising Sons" and "The Guest List." Both those songs also feature the obligatory guest artists, such as E-Roc, B-Twice (of Brainwash Projects), and Ahmad. Spreading one's resources this broadly could indicate a lack of focus, but for Sackcloth Fashion everything works towards a healthy musical variety full of lightning fast rapping.
The most serious-minded tracks, however, sometimes lead these guys astray. "We've Only Just Begun" sets out to address romantic relationships but winds up sounding silly. "Family Ties," a lyrically powerful take on domestic abuse, does exactly what more Christian hip-hop should do: address the world's concerns from a Christ-centered perspective. Although compelling as a whole, the song is too long and is bogged down by Lisa Kolbo's chorus. Kolbo's voice is put to much better use on "Sibling Rivalry," a haunting pro-life tale with three narrators: Geraty and Steve Trudeau as twin fetuses with Kolbo as the mother who aborts them. It is a risky tune, one that needs as wide an audience as possible.
In all,Something for Everyone to Hatehas a rather misleading title. Sackcloth Fashion has so much going on that there really is something for everyone tolike. This is A good hip-hop from a group not afraid to take risks. Read More Here
Jackie Hill Perry - Crescendo
Crescendo is centered on Perry's sense of brokenness entrusted to God's care amidst a rich tapestry of sounds, beats and words, the constant thread running through the growth-aligning the album.
The Gospel Coalition shared an in depth conversation with Perry surrounding Crescendo, where they marked the LP as a "a rich collection of hip hop songs exploring exploring a wide range of topics (race, gender, social media, church) through the lens of glorifying God and growing in faith."
Critics are praising Perry's long-awaited return with The Christian Beat calling each track on Crescendo "saturated with honesty and sincerity...whether it's filled with bold fire or transparent reflection." New Release Today raved "I cannot remember the last time that a rapper spit such a strong verse" and CCM Magazine, who gave the album five out of five stars in their review, described Perry as "intent on elevating expectations to another level entirely with her stunning sophomore album, Crescendo... likely to stand as the best hip-hop release of the year."
This album does not follow any rules when it comes to making music. You will be in the middle of a great hip hop track that suddenly turns into a beautiful piano piece, or you will be bumping some serious beats and then singing along to old hymns and it comes out lovely. Each part, no matter how out of the box it seems, flows perfectly and makes this a completely enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Jackie is honest, open, vulnerable, and encouraging as the listener takes this journey with her. The only potential drawback is that there aren't many light tracks, so it can tend to be a heavy/deeper listen. Those looking for upbeat, dance style tracks need to look elsewhere. However, that's the purpose of the album: to dig deep into this journey of life. If you enjoyedThe Art Of Joy, then I am sure you will be diggingCrescendoas it has the potential to be among the best of the year.
Whether she is rapping, writing, and doing some spoken word, Jackie Hill Perry is proving that she has the gifts and talents to be producing something worthy of all rap fans for a long time to come. Again, in case you missed it, the mighty mighty Humble Beast gives their tunes away for free, so drop them a donation if you can when you check out this one.
The Trapis not a record the listener can ignore or just play in the background. Each track is heavily weighed with socially conscious topics relevant to racism, politics, stereotypes, culture, faith and real life issues. Essentially, the album tackles head-on the daily struggle of what it’s like to be an African American in modern society. There hasn’t been a similar hearty release since summer of 2017 with Propaganda’s Crooked.
Lyrics echo the words of, “The worlddon'tcare about us, but they want more for their cameras,” on the opening track to the project highlighting a flawed culture we tread within. “It Is What It Is” was the first single released back in February previewing Minor’s mindset about to be unraveled throughout the 15-track masterpiece interjecting faith, empowerment, and love as the answer to the sins of the world.
“Black Market”interjects that 90’s hip-hop elements vibe with deejay scratches, a return to the boom bap and a mid-track masterful switch up that fans will applaud. “Decisions” follows that era with classic storytelling which would make Slick Rick proud.
“Of Course” and “See You Win” gain my vote for summer anthems to just nod, bounce, and dance uncontrollably to in the car or gym. “Goodbye Lullaby” contends as one of my favorites of the project, as Minor reminds listeners he can harmonize and destroy tracks bar for bar with a fine-tuned flow unlike any other.
Derek Minor is masterful in his delivery. The substance of each track was researched and executed with near perfection. Social injustice and all of its accomplices (racism, inequality, hate) are not easily discussed topics to present to a culture consumed by the next Billboard hit or club jam. Minor crafted songs to reach people at their core, the heart. As Jesus defined, souls are won within the heart through love. He lyrically meets people regardless of their situation and points back to the cross. His extensive talents are wonderfully displayed throughout the project within his unique storytelling delivery through harmony and rhyme. Highlights like “Decisions,” “Goodbye Lullaby,” “Of Course,” and “I Have a Dream” walk the listen through unique audio experiences neatly packaged and what some will deem album of the year. Read More Here
SWOOPE - SONSHINE
This project is the latest from the former Collision Records frontman since splitting with the label. Swoope released a handful of singles last year, most of which are included on this project, including “All the Time,” “Never Left,” and the latest, “Hall of Fame.”
Disappointingly, one of his best tracks from 2017, “Lambo” is missing fromSonshineand it’s baffling seeing that the subject matter fits well with the overall narrative of the album; however, the project holds up well despite its absence.
For those looking for something as the kids would say,litty,there is plenty throughout the project like “Hall of Fame,” “Flex,” or “All the Time.” One of the many stand- out lines for me is this:
Gotta find a way to monetize black twitter, so they gotta pay if they tryna laugh with us. –“Old Me”
It’s clear that on that song as well as “Tsnk” and “Black Boy,” Swoope isn’t shying away from sparking real and much-needed conversations in the wake of so much racial injustice in America. What’s also clear is that he isn’t afraid of making music that overtly points people to Jesus even though it’s become a trend to conceal and disguise the gospel message for the sake of making dynamic or relevant music.