Wednesday, 28 September 2011

'Jerus & Gentiles' - Knew Jeru'slum (album review)

Here's a review I did a while back now of an LP from the UK:

Rowdy and militant – that’s how I’d describe ‘Jerus and Gentiles’. Now you must understand; I use both words with all possible positivity. Knew Jeru’slum’s debut LP disturbs the peace with its no-nonsense approach to Hip Hop although it’s not all heavy fire.

‘Intro’ featuring cuts from First Word’s Andy H, ‘Thirty Twos’ and lead single ‘Non-Apologetix featuring US MC Manchild are pure aural assault with the album’s three producers Eliphino, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Brutal Artistry each taking their turn to match the MCs’ impassioned rhymes. ‘Dreamcatchers’ featuring JND (as heard on Certified Banger’s ‘On The Radar’ series) and ‘Kaleidoscopic’, whilst remaining equally as heavy, provide a slower tempo and a rest in the trenches before ‘Speakwise’ explodes into the ear canal with renewed fervour.

Label mate Chief Wigz must have influenced ‘Move Mountains’ featuring Larbi; the interplay between Jonny Alpha and Watson G on the chorus makes for one of the most memorable tracks on the album. Another US MC, Pigeon John, joins the ranks for the summery ‘Hibernation’ on which Belinda’s vocals are showcased beautifully. ‘Aircon’ does what it says on the tin – provides a breather and a chillout moment which is backed up by the serious message and the laid back vibe of ‘One Foot In The World’.

‘Plan To Prosper’ brings the funk and the juxtaposition of the haunting background vocals with the MCs frenzied words is fairly close to surreal, and that’s before it ascends into Drum and Bass chaos. Narykcin provides a heartfelt chorus on ‘Penitent Man’ and if you hadn’t caught onto the fact that this album is inspired by the Christian faith of its proprietors by this point then this will track will point you in that direction, causing you to re-think everything you’ve heard so far.

‘Memoirs’ serves as a decoy before ‘Bobby Legion’ devastates the situation; the track, featuring singer Stevie Heath’, has the most mass appeal because of its chorus which is insane considering the earth-shattering hardcore-ness of its Hip Hop beat – definitely the album’s atomic charge, talk about saving the best ‘til last! In fact, it’s not the last; ‘Hunger’ featuring Rini of Sons of Light and Ragga artist Wizkid bring the final frontier of variety as old school Hip Hop, R’n’B and Dancehall rub shoulders making for a crowd-pleasing product.

You can download this now for £2.50 by going to Bandcamp ( and typing 'halfprice' into the discount code box. Not sure what that will work out as in dollars but it won't be much and paypal does all the money changing malarky for you. Do it.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

'Persuaded' ft. R-Swift - Macho

Macho, of New Breed (one of my favourite Christian Hip Hop groups) and Tunnel Rats, is preparing to drop a new album entitled 'Remember'. He's already dropped a few tracks which you can listen to at his Bandcamp page.

'Persuaded' sees Macho lays bare his life and faith in Christ without being cryptic about it: "...Y'all ain't gotta convince me that Christ is king, the reason death lost its sting, Jesus is more than magnificent, the antithesis to the curse that we've been smitten with... I'm recommending repentance to any and all who'll listen...".

'Persuaded' features R-Swift and his lyrics "It ain't easy; the path of a believer, but the grass ain't greener on the other side either" also really caught my ear on this track. I just liked that reminder that even when life as a Christian gets tough, it's immeasurably better than life without Christ. In fact, clever as it is, this lyrics is a bit of an understatement!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

'The New Raw' ft. DJ Rob Swift - Braille // Matthew 25:14-30

Those reading this will already know that Braille Brizzy, the Christian rapper with the most secular fans (not official, just probable), very recently dropped his seventh album 'Native Lungs'. He dropped it for free on his Humble Beast label and you can go get it now.

Several tracks on 'Native Lungs' stand out to me - 'Native Lungs' for its production, '48 Prisons' for both its Xperiment production and the lyrics and content and also a track called 'The New Raw' which features Rob Swift on the cuts and Ohmega Watts on the beat.

With lyrics like "...and keep it raw 'til I hear 'Well Done'" and "Well done is the new raw" it's clear to any believer who knows a little scripture what Braille is referring to. Matthew 25:14-30, where the quote "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'" comes from is about what we do with what God has given us. Those who use their gifts wisely will hear a 'Well done' from God, and will be given more. Braille's play on words and Hip Hop culture references are clever and his message and desire is serious - the prayer of a Christian hoping that what they do in life is God's work.

I noted with interest that this isn't the first time Braille has referenced these verses. At the end of 'Surgical' from 'Weapon Aid' (also free from Humble Beast) he raps "Who I am is a man; a husband, a father, a son, striving to here 'Well Done' in all of the above, 'cause I only got one life".

Well, as well as inspiring me to actually pay money to have a CD version of a free download release shipped to the UK, 'Native Lungs' has re-inspired me to ensure that the way I use God's gifts and blessings are worthy of the giver of those gifts. Pray that this would be the case in your life too.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thoughts Corrected

Have been continuing to think on my post regarding only listening to Christian Hip Hop. I realised that maybe my answer to the question asked of me wasn't 100% correct - more accurately, at the moment, the only new Hip Hop I'm buying, downloading and listening to is Christian - or at least Hip Hop created by Christian artists (i.e. Mr. J. Medeiros). I am still listening to some older secular Hip Hop from my collection (but have begun to pare it down to stuff which is more wholesome).

Part of my re-think was inspired by some of Mr. J. Medeiros' writings on twitter. He was saying that artists in gospel Hip Hop (and other sub-genres of Hip Hop) need to know and respect the history of the genre; including its originators and innovators. I totally agree. I could never write off secular Hip Hop as a whole as without it we wouldn't have the genre with which artists express their faith. I do think, as an artist there is a lot to be said for studying the last 30 years of Hip Hop in order to find out where they fit in.

Even in CHH I like to hear that the artist is schooled in the knowledge of the mother genre, as well as music as a whole. Recently I reviewed Theory Hazit's 'The Rock is Steady' E.P. which is a great example of how a Christian artist can come across as knowing what has gone before them (the review is for Sphere of Hip Hop but it has not yet been posted). Braille's amazing new (and free) album 'Native Lungs' is also a good example of an MC who has more than paid his dues on the underground scene, who knows Hip Hop's history (i.e. the word play on Native Tongues for the album title tips a hat to innovators within the genre), who has a lot of secular fans and who makes unashamed gospel music.

So, I won't be giving up all secular Hip Hop, certainly not that which has been instrumental in shaping the genre I know and love today.