Monday, 31 December 2012

Goggles

Beginning of some hopefully steampunk style goggles for my 'Big Start' character. A 'Big Start' is how we, at school, start a new topic. Dressing up, K'nex and Lego challenge and the film Hugo are on the menu for next Monday in year 6.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Decembeard

Good friendship, fellowship and family times today. Nothing that creative happened so thought I'd share the beard I've begun to create.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Travelling

Going back North today. Did some more on the Mallard poster - got most of the layout sorted now, just need to do all the fine details to finish it.

Saw this Brian Cook book the other day - love the old railway poster style and want to do something like it...

Friday, 28 December 2012

Blast from the Past #1

Did this series of Jim Carrey portraits for my brother 2 or 3 years ago. Obviously they are stencils on canvas at the size of a normal photograph. Went round to his place this evening and he has them hanging vertically in the hallway. I still like them.

Go Minifigure

Yesterday I worked more on the Mallard poster. Today I went to Brighton and went to the Lego shop - make your own minifigures, 3 for £3.50; what fun. Next topic at school is Inventors and we're incorporating the Steampunk aesthetic so made a couple of Steampunk inspired figures.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Mallard a la Cassandre

Here's an idea that's been brewing since yesterday, started work on it today. It's inspired by A.M. Cassandre's Nord Express poster. It obviously incorporates my Mallard image (which was also a drawing from a photo at the National Railway Museum) and is obviously far from finished!


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Inspiration Of The Day #1

Was given A Century of Graphic Design by my mother in law - excellent book, feeling inspired. Should be my motto:

Monday, 24 December 2012

Plain Ol' Plane

Christmas eve. I made a plane using parts only from Lego kit 6346 - Shuttle Launching Crew from 1992, I believe. OK so it's not vastly different to the shuttle itself but it still is MOC (that's Lego speak for 'my own creation').

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Impromptu Sheep

So, no creativity yesterday either. I do feel that since I didn't waste any time either that it's OK. It was a day full of festive cheer; my eldest daughter became an impromptu sheep and improvised in a nativity, we ate lots and played monopoly (I sort of won).

Hopefully today will end my dry patch!

Another thought: next phone must have a better camera!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Driving Home For Christmas

Well, not to my home, but to my wife's pre-marital home! A hairy day on the roads (witnessed an accident actually happening) but we're here safely.

Unfortunately no creativity to speak of today. Hopefully the holiday period will provide some time to be creative.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Thoughts on Creativity

Can't think that I've done much creative today - it's been the last day of term and I'm in relax mode now.

However, have just been having excellent conversation with my brother in law and sister in law and wife about creativity and how we were created in God's image, therefore rendering us created to be creative. We discussed things which leach creativity (facebook and other online activity) and how being creative brings self-worth and a sense of achievement, enjoyment and well-being. Good stuff.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mallard (finished)

I'm really happy with the drawing on this in terms of the shape and perspective but not happy with the pencil crayoning. Next time I use pencil crayons I definitely must not use multi-directional strokes. May do another version of this and colour it in another medium. I may also use this to manipulate digitally.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mallard

Doing this has made me realise how rusty I've become. Need to keep practising. I just hope that this blog eventually shows progression.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Polar Express

Obviously Chris Van Allsburg's own illustrations are sumptuous beyond description, which may be why I felt inspired to have a go at my own quick-ish drawing after reading the book for the first time the other day.

Finished this one today and thought I'd push myself to do a bit of background - something I can't usually be bothered to do. The drawing was done from my own photo of Chinese Government Railways Steam Locomotive 4-8-4 KF Class No 7 which is kept at the National Railway Museum in York.

Have already made amendments (the front wheel, the light cast by the lamp) to the drawing since posting this but this is it as a rough, quick sketch and shade:

Thoughts for next time: use better paper and a greater range of pencils.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Repeated Pattern on GIMP

I realised most things I've posted so far have been pretty drab. Here's some colour. I drew curved lines for the first time in GIMP to create this faded graffiti-inspired repeating pattern.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Turkish Cake

I don't bake. I can't bake... but Bec and I did this together so I think it came out OK. Tomorrow we will taste and see!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Time Traveler Expounds

"You read, I will suppose, attentively enough; but you cannot see the speaker's white, sincere face in the bright circle of the little lamp, nor hear the intonation of his voice. You cannot know how his expression followed the turns of his story! Most of us hearers were in shadow, for the candles in the smoking-room had not been lighted, and only the face of the Journalist and the legs of the silent Man from the knees downward were illuminated."
- H.G. Wells - 'The Time Machine'

Began reading The Time Machine today and was struck by the imagery created by Wells - I wanted to draw  it! I was talking to my cousin yesterday who's doing a GCSE piece using Biro and so, along with recollections of Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival' illustrations, I had a go at drawing the scene as I saw it in my mind's eye.

Here it is, unfinished:

Friday, 14 December 2012

In Memory...

Probably the most creative thing I did today was speak at my Grandma's funeral. She was a very creative lady who always encouraged me in creativity.

This is my first ever try at screen printing. It's a view down into Little Germany, Bradford.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Beginnings

Can you guess what they're going to be?

Good news: new camera lens ordered.

Lego USB

Just been to prise this off the base board it was on- a bit of leakage from the glue so not pristine as I'd have liked. Maybe I need to find a thinner USB circuit and do a one brick creation.

Seems like I'm quite inspired by Lego right now...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Lego + Polystyrene Printing

Wasn't that happy with the outcome - I like how the print block looks more!

Rational

Inspired by the work of Trickartt and his Something Creative Every Day blog, I thought I'd have a go at this as it goes hand in hand with my drive for productivity in every area of my life!

I'm under no false illusions - I'm pretty sure it won't be daily, but I can only try.

Photos to begin with will be straight from phone - we're in the market for a new lens for our DSLR as it finally broke on a visit to Bradford to look at its old buildings.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Lamp Mode's 'Verses'

Just been watching through these shorts from Lamp Mode. Each artist gives their rhyming take on the central Gospel message. I'd definitely recommend watching each one; the creativity of God displayed through differing rhyme styles, voices and approaches to one topic. Maybe it was a given that shai linne's would be my favourite, maybe not though since I really like Json's and he's usually not my cup of tea:



Verses // shai linne from Lamp Mode Recordings on Vimeo.
Favourite line?: "I guess you could say we've been saved by works... His!"

 

Verses // Json from Lamp Mode Recordings on Vimeo.
As I said though, watch them all and share them.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

God's Servant 'Simple Love' (album review)

My latest review is of God's Servant's 'Simple Love' album. It's a Lamp Mode release so you can be sure that there's plenty of theology, although not quite on the same level as Shai Linne, for example. In fact both style and content is pretty different; what God's Servant actually does really well is the application of real core truths.

This is an album, although not entirely to my usual tastes, that I'll definitely keep listening to. Check out my words over at Sphere of Hip Hop. Here's an excerpt about my favourite track on the album:

Not many albums these days truly contain original-sounding material, but this one does.

"'Oh the Deep' is the stand-out track on this album, perhaps simply because it’s like nothing I’ve heard in Hip Hop before. Kicking off with only a Eye of the Tiger-style monotone muted guitar rhythm and Lauren Monique singing “Oh The Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus” it’s clear that it’s something quite special. Then you realize it features Timothy Brindle and Shai Linne and you know nothing else on the record will top it. Taking a song from 1875 and making it relevant and dope in 2012 is a real skill – hats off."

...and here's the track and the Bandcamp link:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Lecrae - 'Gravity' (album review)

Have just found this post half-finished and thought I should complete it and post it:

Check out my review of one of the year's biggest releases - Lecrae's Gravity. I wrote it for the Grace For Sinners blog (who I reviewed Timothy Brindle's 'The Restoration' for). I really enjoyed getting to grips with the theme of this concept album, and I hope that I understood it correctly. The 'gravity' illustration is one which holds up really well, and I've already found myself using it to aid explanation in a bible study!

"It is a hard hitting body of work, which, with the position Lecrae has found himself in, has the potential to truly reach those who do not yet know that they are a sinner in need of a Savior. It also will certainly edify the body as it contains many truths which we need to remind ourselves of daily. Sing with me now: “Lead me higher, lead me higher, and lift my eyes up… Oh lead me higher into Your fire, Burn away all other desires, and let my heart beat again”"

Zae Da Blacksmith and Arrested Development Album Reviews

Sphere of Hip Hop have a refreshed site and a couple of my recent reviews are up there now. The main one I'd like to highlight is Zae Da Blacksmith's 'The Mosaic Mixtape' (click for my review):

 "On his drop Mac The Doulos sums up this project well: ‘repping the game and repping His name, all at the same time’. Zae brings together true, pure Hip Hop with a timeless aesthetic with a real, no-nonsense witness to Christ. It’s clear that Zae really tries to practice what he preaches in His music; ‘The Holy Scriptures’ is about how the Bible can speak for itself (listen to that track for a great Spurgeon illustration involving a tiger) and throughout this project scriptures are referenced to the verse to back up Zae’s claims and statements."

I like an album that references Spurgeon and tigers. Two tracks that really stood out to me were 'Virtuous Sister' and 'Excellent Wife' - they really made me consider my wife and how amazing she is as both tracks Biblically explore womanhood.

The other review is of the veteran group Arrested Development's latest free download album 'Standing At The Crossroad' (click for the review). Theologically it's very hard to tell where they're at and the themes of the album are more moral and socially-driven than most of the albums I review for Sphere of Hip Hop.

I've just written a review of one of Lamp Mode's latest releases, 'Simple Love' by God's Servant, so look out for that one soon.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

'Precious Puritans' - Propaganda

'Excellent' by Propaganda dropped today, for free, on Humble Beast. Go and get it on download whilst you read this short post.

Most of the tracks are very ear-catching and memorable but the one that has inspired me to write on this neglected blog is 'Precious Puritans'.

I think it's safe to say that in many ways I've been brought up by folk who have prized the teachings of the puritans (I'm pretty sure my dad's library shelves contain not a few puritanical books) so when I first heard the track I was a little shocked that I had never before considered its perspective. I had already an inkling that the track would be controversial as Prop put out a warning on Twitter last night ("The tunnel Rat in me won't let me put an album out w/o at least one verse/ poem that could get us in trouble. :) ref: Precious Puritans.) but wasn't quite ready for what he was about to say! The song is about how the Puritans, authors who are still revered to this day, were involved in slavery, and how quoting them today can have a negative impact on black listeners.

Anyway, I have no commentary really to add as I am no expert on these matters but Joe Thorn has blogged twice about the track with some really helpful insights from Dr. Richard Bailey (author of 'Race and Redemption in Puritan New England') and Propaganda himself. Read Part 1 and then Part 2.

In finishing, I'd just like to quote Propaganda's point from Part 2: "The real point is the last line, "God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines." God uses us despite our depravity... the take-home should not be “Wow! Propaganda!”, but, “Wow! God! And he used Propaganda?!?”

P.S. So glad to finally hear Kevin Olusola on a Christian Hip Hop track! Boy is a genius on the Cello and clearly loves his Hip Hop. I love this video and could watch it over and over (indeed I have):

Thursday, 16 August 2012

'The Restoration' - Timothy Brindle (album review)

A new review, this time not for Sphere of Hip Hop but for the Grace For Sinners blog.


Mathew asked me to review Timothy Brindle's latest album for his blog and I readily accepted. It was an album I was looking forward to anyway (it's a Lamp Mode release!) so it was good to be able to summarise my thoughts in writing with the added bonus of a new, wider audience to read it.

I did really enjoy the album - production-wise it's one of Lamp Mode's very best yet with Wit taking on the role of executive producer. Timothy's lyrics are finely crafted and delivered and as you'd expect full of clearly explained theology.

My only disappointment was the overall mood of the album - it focuses on pre-restoration more than post-restoration and as a result the album feels quite dark. I'm really hoping that Brindle's next album is a real joyful affair as he rejoices and praises the Lord for all He has done in his life. This aspect of the album was also picked up on by LaRosa in his review for SOHH.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

'Thunderspeak' - Manchild (Album Review)

I reviewed Manchild's 'Thunderspeak' album for Sphere of Hip Hop. Pretty tired right now so I don't have much to say, and I can't go to bed because the baby is crying so thought I'd pop on here and post this quickly.


"...the question is “Is this the new Mars ILL record?” Well, no, it’s not – there’s not a Dust beat in earshot. Second question then; “Will Thunderspeak keep me satisfied until Dust and Manchild combine forces again?” The answer’s..."

Monday, 16 July 2012

'The Daily Gospel' - Timothy Brindle

"Another root of sin is self-righteousness, 
But the gospel says my only help's Christ who lives,
Then my pride and idolatry will die as I constantly,
Look to Christ and in the gospel see,
An astronomically awesome God indeed,
Way greater than any the world can possibly offer me,
And when I see my beautiful Saviour who suffered,
For all of the numerous ways I have blundered...
But most of all the gospel brings me close to my Father,
So in the warmth of His love I can soak like a sauna,
So now I wanna obey Him and show Him my honour,
Not to earn His love but as a chosen responder"

I could have quoted just about all of this song because it is so excellent. Part of me wants to get legalistic and self-righteous and say that I need to listen to this song everyday to remind myself everyday to read the Bible everyday but I know I need to fight the legalism and focus on the fact that the gospel says my only help's Christ who lives, "the gospel brings me close to my Father" - these shall be my reasons for being disciplined in my reading of the Word because I can't "earn His love".

This song may be excellent (in its content, Tim's delivery and rhymes, its production and the fact that it reminds me of the key which unlocked me from a legalistic prison) but the Gospel is much more excellent - I want to see daily (and if I'm honest I'm bad at the moment at ensuring I read daily) my just how beautiful my Saviour who suffered is, I want to be reminded everyday that God is love and that in light of these facts, I cannot rely on myself.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

'Runnin' Away' ft. Ronin - Righteouz Knight

Had some teaching on Genesis 37 & 39 today (click here to download and listen to the sermon)and it reminded me of this track from the new Righteouz Knight mixtape.

The first verse of 'Runnin' Away' featuring Ronin retells the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. Rupert Bentley-Taylor (who was preaching today) reminded us of the verse in 1 Corinthians 6 which says 'Flee from sexual immorality'.

Joseph was faithful to God. He says 'How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' - this is his motive to decline the woman's advances. It wasn't because it was a sin against Potiphar, or because it was just the wrong thing to do, it was because He knew it was wicked and that it was a sin against God.

Rupert challenged us to 'call a sin a sin' and to run from it, just as this track from Righteouz Knight does. We have to flee - run. We can't tiptoe around the edge of sin, we just have steer well clear of it - remember, Joseph ran out of the house and physically got right away from the situation. Shai Linne tweeted a quote today from Douglas Wilson's book 'Fidelity': 'A man who wants never to fall off a cliff should resolve never to tip-toe along the edge of it'.

Jesus taught us to pray (as recorded in Matthew 6) that our Father in Heaven would deliver us from evil as opposed to being led into temptation. We are to ask that the Holy Spirit would guide us in the absolute opposite direction of sin - towards what is good and holy and righteous. We really must make this our prayer as temptations come daily and, like to admit it or not, in the world we live in, sexual temptations come daily too.

"I'm runnin' away, 'cause I know death is chasin'...and I'ma keep escapin'... God is on my side, I'm runnin' away"

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

'Do All Things' - Jerrell Johnson

"With Him we can do all things"

O.K., so, the thoughts this song provoked really has nothing to do with the premise of this song by Jerrell Johnson. It's just that he quotes Philippians 4:13 and that got me thinking...

Now I'm not sure of how this verse relates to the context of Philippians, and I know it's important not to take things out of context but from what I can see Paul and Timothy are finishing their letter with some encouragement using their own lives as examples. They particularly focus on God's provision for their needs.

Not long ago, I was trying very hard to provide for my own needs - spiritual needs - and I was failing time and time again to meet my needs. My attitude was 'I can do all things' when it should have been "I can do all things THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS ME". I was trying to get to Him, to get to know Him, to love Him without realising that I could only do it through Him and in Him and with Him. I did not truly understand that His strength in me would be the key. I am thankful that in His loving grace and kindness God showed me the error of my ways and that He is showing me now, helping me to let go of the weaknesses I cling onto and to truly allow Christ to be my strength.

We think we can do all things - we empower ourselves - but the power lies in Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in us.



P.S. Although the track doesn't have much to do with my thoughts it is an excellent track with a good story and a thought provoking theme - check it. Also check out Jerrell's whole mixtape 'Dream S.O.D.A.' at his bandcamp page.

'Drown' - Illtripp

"My death is going to be gain,
And if to live is Christ, why am I in so much pain?
It turns out I'm to blame, I rely on my own brain,
and my mind, which failed me about a 1000 times."

If you read my last post then you'll know something of how my life is changing right now. In this new lease of life I've been looking for music which is clearly joyful about what Christ has done for us. It seems that it's hard to find in Hip Hop. There are plenty of artists who preach absolutely solid truths about Christ's death and resurrection but few who seem to respond in song joyfully, extolling Christ and His wonderful work.

Well, this track is not particularly preachy, nor is it very joyful - it's called 'Drown' for goodness sake! However, it laments exactly what God is helping me to leave behind: self-reliance and legalism. That was me - relying on my self, relying on that which has failed me countless times, and which has never ever been successful in what I was trying to achieve (Colossians 2:21-23 explains more about this). God has revealed to me that I will never make it by my own efforts and that He is more than sufficiently able to bring me into a right relationship with Him. He is the One who is able, by the power of the Spirit living in me, to open my heart to His delights, to show me how to enjoy Him and how to adore Christ.

My mind will continue to fail me, self-reliance will continue to only make me religious (along with the feelings of guilt and bondage) but by casting my burden on the Lord, He will ensure that I do not fall (Psalm 55:22).

'Goodnight' ft. Rigz & Wize - Wit and Dre Murray

"The question is: Will I ever make it? 
The answer is: I already have, 
Having a picnic at the top of a skyscraper, 
I took the elevator. 
I'll let you do the math... 
Everyday was dark, I pursued night, 
The forecast said tomorrow wasn't too bright. 
I asked God for a new life, 
I saw my life rise to a new height, 
It's no hype, close your eyes and receive sight. 
Goodnight."

I heard this whilst riding my bike and didn't get to check the track name, so after listening through everything that was on my phone's memory card I managed to find it.

These lyrics really struck a chord with me. You see, I've recently been awakened to some realities; some truths. I've recently been made free; I've been liberated from legalism, or am at least in the process of being released. My next few blog posts are probably going to revolve around this because this is a huge revelation in my life. 

For far too long I've been a slave to box-ticking; to a works-based religion. My idol has been an imitation relationship with the Triune God - one which makes me read books, listen to sermons, partake in (and even lead) bible studies, read the bible with only one real outcome: knowledge. I've had a knowledge which hasn't changed me, which hasn't made me love Christ and which hasn't made me enjoy God and it's been draining. I am free and I am thankful!

So, going back to the lyrics quoted at the outset...

My thoughts immediately on hearing them were: "Stop trying to climb the stairs, and get in the elevator (or lift as we Brits call them)". For too long I've been trying to get to the top of the skyscraper by toiling up the stairs and never seeming to get anywhere. Now I'm in the elevator going up; it's not by my power, it's not what I've done or what I'm doing - it is the power of the Holy Spirit in me, opening my eyes to who the Father is, and what the Son has done for me and enabling me to react joyfully.

It's been so hard, but in the end I just had to ask God for a new life, and I'm seeing my life rise to a new height - I am taking the elevator.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

4 New Album Reviews

Had a holiday recently and had a chance to write a few reviews - three in fact. Check out my reviews of Wes Pendleton's 'Nebulous', Swoope's 'Wake Up' and Beautiful Eulogy's 'Satellite Kite'. Oh, and a while back I reviewed Cas Metah and Wonder Brown's 'The Darke Bros.' and didn't blog about it.

Here are few excerpts:

From my 'Satellite Kite' review:

Lyrically this album is outstanding – the content is this album’s absolute strength. The inclusion of all the prose-like lyrics in the digital booklet gives you that old-fashioned listening experience and the lyrics read very well and make for great material for meditation. There are tons of quotables on this release, so here are just a few so you get the picture: “Make you logically stop and think doxologically cause honestly a little bit of music and theology never really hurt anybody”

From my 'Nebulous' review:

From the off, it’s difficult to categorize what sort of release Nebulous is. Is it an album? No, too short (17 and a bit minutes) and it’s blended. Is it an EP? Could be, but then it contains a lot of found sounds. Must be a mixtape then? Not that either; it’s all original beats. This new approach to releasing music is testament to the artist’s creativity – this release is an audio scrap book containing fragments of inspiring music, sounds, verses, collaborations and beats.

From my 'Wake Up' review:

“Blind Eyes (The Good American)” – a track that will really impress with its (fairly shocking and stark) message and challenge. It’s that challenge too that perhaps will leave the most lasting memory as few artists truly manage to convict their listeners of their own, and their culture’s shortcomings.

Check the links to Sphere of Hip Hop in the first paragraph and check the whole write-ups.

Monday, 4 June 2012

'Give It Up' - Stephen the Levite

Stephen The Levite recently dropped his 'The Last Missionary' album and I had enough faith in its quality to pre-order it. I've not had as many chances as I'd have liked to listen to it yet (life is busy) but my opinion of it so far is very positive. 

 The single from the LP is 'Give It Up', which is a track that really challenged and encouraged me to try to truly "give it up". The song particularly focuses on married life as well as church life; themes which are very strong throughout the album. I find tracks like this really helpful in the way I view the constant business of life as a husband, father, church member and teacher. In the past tracks like 'Fathers' by theBREAX, 'Domesticated' by Ruslan and 'Step It Up' by Braille - tracks by artists who are in a similar stage of life to me - have done the same as 'Give It Up' does for me now.

Stephen The Levite has written about the song and included the lyrics in a post over at his blog - click here to read it

Sunday, 29 April 2012

KJ52 - 'They Like Me' ft. Lecrae



Not my usual cup of tea, but I'm loving these lyrics from Lecrae explaining, with much panache, why race doesn't matter when it comes to the need of salvation:

"I don’t do black music, I don’t do white music,
I do fight music, unified in Christ music,
Lets get right to it, hear the music write to it,
From the context of a black kid fighting through it,
Some folks said it was worldly; it was too good,
Some folks was scared of it; it was too hood.
So I took it to the places who would embrace it,
And sometimes believe it or not it was white faces.
Am I a sellout assimilating what’s in my head?
No I am cyclops homie 'cause all I see is red;
People covered in the blood are my fam,
And we don’t just relate we all related through the Lamb,
My family tree is a lower case 't',
And we are all the same cause you need him like me,
We different but the same and it’s likely,
They just like me that’s probably why they like me"

I also likes the fact that he addresses his haters with the 5th and 6th lines - he's got a point.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

'Slave Trade' - J. Miles (of iSix:5) (EP Review)

I picked up on iSix:5 after Shai Linne tweeted about them – enough of a cosign for me. Shai’s recommendation didn’t disappoint as the group’s music is rich in hermeneutical, theological exegesis of the bible.

On ‘Slave Trade’ iSix:5 member J. Miles continues in the group’s groove as he explores biblical ideas of slavery. The EP’s concept is adhered to closely throughout its 7 tracks and the project avoids the pitfall of becoming repetitive. Whilst the title may conjure up thoughts of civil rights movements, parliamentary reform and ongoing worldwide oppression, the material here delves beyond things of this world into the spiritual realm – everyone is a slave to one thing or another, when one stops being a slave to sin, they become a slave to Christ – a trade takes place. Romans chapter 6 presents the grounding for the teaching of J. Miles and his ‘Slave Trade’ EP:

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey —whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Closely linked to the concept of slavery is that of adoption. ‘Adoption’ (featuring Barabbas Da Rebel and J. Paul) explains very adeptly how the first readers of the letter to the Romans would have understood the concept of slavery and sonship. J. Miles and Barabbas present a concise history lessons on Roman citizenship and in the process they explain how these words in Romans 8:15 apply to us:

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

‘Identical Strangers’ starkly discusses sin and atonement before the summery beat of ‘Keep Your Heart’ (featuring Omri) catches the listener’s ear with its conversation on guarding one’s heart – the fact that J. Miles uses his last verse as an opportunity to reference scripture verses is heartening – here is a rapper striving to be faithful to God’s word, encouraging his listeners follow in the footsteps of the Bereans by testing what he is saying by scripture.

‘Love Letters’ (featuring Leah Smith) is a beautiful track which explains to 3 people (one being J. Miles’ then unborn son) that Jesus loves them and wants to make them new. ‘Kill It For His Glory’ (featuring JG) is a great last song as it encourages us, as slaves to righteousness, to do a good job of it. ‘Why?’ is a spoken word piece which draws together the ideas presented on the EP using scripture; J. Miles explains the gospel clearly and simply without watering down the message.

For what it’s worth, I will continue to champion music of this caliber. As my pastor explained this week, Hip Hop has the potential to convey a great many truths as it is a culture which revolves around using many words to convey meaning – this is why music such as J. Mile’s ‘Slave Trade’ EP must be made and why it should be heard.

Visit the iSix:5 website for more information.

Follow J. Miles on Twitter

Get Slave Trade on iTunes

Saturday, 21 April 2012

'Sinderblock' - Sev Statik & Vinylcologist (EP review)

Another review from yours truly:

"There’s depth to the production and depth to the vocals. Maybe it’s the still-scratchy, warm and familiar-sounding samples of guitar riffs, organ loops and funk breaks. Maybe it’s the un-Boom Bap drum rhythm of the “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” sample on lead single “Right and Exact.” Maybe it’s Sev’s instantly-likeable tone and precise but laid back flow. Maybe it’s the Beastie Boys vocal samples on “Represent ‘Chall.” I don’t know what it is, but in a short space of time Sev Statik takes things way beyond the shallows, wading through layers of pure Hip Hop components."

Go to SOHH.com for the full review.

Go to Sev Statik's Bandcamp page for the free download!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

'Rain' - Watson G/'Incredible Pre-Me' - Johnny Alpha

MCs from round my way Johnny Alpha and Watson G dropped some free music this week. Backed up by the beats of the UK's Imperial (Illect Recordings) the two MCs (both from Knew Jeru'slum) drop their testimonial rhymes over two pretty different productions.

Watson G's 'Rain' has a laid-back feel despite a fairly pacy sample of The Brothers Johnson's 'Strawberry Letter 23' (quality dancing on that video but Imperial informs me he sampled another version of the same song). Watson builds on the rain theme as he discusses his faith, failings and the hope he has. Favourite lyric is "It's cold man 'cause I need the sun/son, that's a double entendre..."; I just love the fact that he cheekily points out the dual meaning of the word sun as most rappers would do it, and not point it out, thinking that they were really clever for realising that sun and son are homophones (look it up, I'm a primary school teacher).

Johnny Alpha's offering is really open about his life before and after becoming a Christian. 'Incredible Pre-Me' is a lyrical-fest which still conveys its message clearly and the beat... well, it's just devastating - I love that bass drop and its general rowdiness. The chorus may even be this track's greatest feat - lyrical yet memorable, and it totally sums up the whole track - excellent: "This is the incredible pre-me, the pitiful me with an ego; capital E, the pre-me with unappeasable needs, with an unfeasible greed, did unspeakable deeds, yo!"

'Pale Blue Dot' - Mr. J. Medeiros

I really have not grasped everything that Mr. J. Medeiros' latest track 'Pale Blue Dot' has to say, but what I do know is that I love the song musically. As with all of Mr. J.'s output, the tracks need repeated listening in order to fully understand the ideas behind his profound poetry. Maybe I'll have to wait until he breaks the lyrics down on his blog, but it seems to me that he is mourning the corrupt state of the world we live in, particulary the state of those who claim falsely to be a force for good.

In Matthew 23 Jesus warns of hypocrisy. In those days Jesus was speaking about the Pharisees as a group of people, but now Christians are always in danger of being pharisaical. Jesus talks about how the pharisees do what looks right and seems good (v5-7) on the outside yet in reality, they do not actually "practice what they preach" (v3).

It's easy to point the finger in this world, to say who you believe to be a 'pharisee'. It's easy to identify those who are being hypocritical with their religion and beliefs. What's difficult is to identify those traits within oneself. Jesus says "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." Which parts of your life (and indeed, I must ask myself this same question), look beautiful on the outside when in fact on the inside, there is the stench of death and decay.

As Christians, we must truly be a force for good; we musn't just assume that we are and we musn't merely try to make it look like we are. We must practice what we preach. O.K. so we don't intend to become suicide bombers, corrupt politicians or crooked bankers but Mr. J. Medeiros' musings should remind us that our actions as Christians, no matter how small, should line up clearly with the teachings of Jesus.


Monday, 20 February 2012

@pray4JGivens - #OccupyMondays

This here's the latest track in a series of downloads entitled #OccupyMondays that JGivens has been dropping each week.

The 7 tracks so far are a mixed bag in terms of production sound, but JGivens rocks anything with his super Neo Lyrical style (did I just coin a phrase or a genre there?). The guy is funny, in tune with culture and Hip Hop's history, and he says some thought-provoking things from a Christian perspective - what more could you want from an MC?

Here are some favourite quotes:

"Did Lazarus choose the air When He let it breathe, When Christ said come forth Like the letter D?" from 'But You Ain't Got No Legs, Lieutentant Dan'

"They transformed the Gospel to bad news, Egotistical legalist mystical ritual, Mixed with some bad views" from 'But You Ain't Got No Legs, Lieutentant Dan'
"And the pastor say If I can't find faith, Then droppin' a couple Yen will, So I'm staring at this gold plate, Thinking this gas money I got in my pocket, Will pay to get my soul straight, But I left feeling empty like the gas tank" from 'Un Nuovo Giorno'
"Kingdom affiliates, Bumpin' Scribbling Idiots, Saved by His grace, We couldn't master Leviticus, I started out with "Homie, just blaze and take a hit of this", Now I'm on this "Give Him praise because He finished it" from 'Kill Bill Collectors'
"Rep Christ 'til we die, Lift His name like stilettos, Lion of Judah schoolin' the Nazarene ghetto, Millenium falcon pouncin' on these rebels, Your little violins got nothing on these cellos" from 'Caught in the Reign'
"Everybody praying asking, "Kingdom, come quick", The Gospel is, "The Kingdom is here, it's at fist!", Well technically at hand, Connected to that wrist, Where they pierced the Lamb Betrayed Him with that kiss" from 'Caught in the Reign'
"Holy Ghost be revealed in Romans 10:9, Cuz Satan's infiltrating this wedding Like Vince Vaughn" from 'Caught in the Reign'
"Ignorance harbors the monopoly It started with Socrates, Now fools is copying these prophecies" from 'Atrium'
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Hop over to the J Givens Bandcamp site for all these tracks and more (his 'Run' album and his '#keepPraying4 @kanyewest MIXTAPE' - both are excellent).

Saturday, 18 February 2012

'American Idolatry' - Jeremiah Bonds (album review)

Another review at SOHH. It's pretty much all I have time for these days, which renders this blog pretty useless (but then I only get about one visit a week), but at least I'm doing something.

Loved this 'Street Album' by Jeremiah Bonds:

"The well-executed concept and the excellent musical selection make this project hard to knock. The serious subject matter is made palatable, no, more than that, entertaining..."

Click here to read the full review and click here to download 'American Idolatry' for free!

In other news: due to the fact that I'm a serial blog starter I have created a new blog, possibly a sister blog to this one, called Clean Cuts. Clean Cuts is dedicated to finding positive Hip Hop music which contains no swearing, derogatory terms or reference to negative themes such as sex, violence and drug use. The URL is:


Friday, 3 February 2012

Latest Reviews

More reviews from the one like myself. All written for Sphere of Hip Hop.com so click the links to read the whole review:

theBREAX - 'Never Arrive' "the group are very adept at avoiding creating derivative music – in simple terms, their output is creative and fresh."

116 Clique - 'Man Up' "Most of the bible’s story has something to say on manliness and its David’s advice to Solomon in 1 Kings 2 that sums up the group’s admirable purpose: “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses.”"

Tha G.I.M. - 'Supreme' "Supreme acts as a reminder of the basics of our faith – almost like a Hip Hop catechism."

Thursday, 12 January 2012

'Doomsday Insuranc3' - Theory Hazit

Well, I finally did it: I finished reading 'The Attributes of God' today. I know it's pitiful that it's taken me so long and my only excuse is that I keep starting other books. Anyway, in my sprint to the end of the book, I read so much which provoked many thoughts and indeed, furthered my understanding of God's character. One part really caught my attention as it was something I'd been made to consider when listening to Theory Hazit's new LP 'Thr3e'.

Theory Hazit's track 'Doomsday Insuranc3' begins with a reading from chapters 8 and 9 of The Book of Revelation and focuses on final judgement, God's wrath and the need for man to change before this occasion.

In his review at SphereofHipHop.com Ahnon Knomis reminds us that ten years ago artists like Secta7, Shadow of the Locust and Remnant Militia were speaking on these subjects. In my experience, these are subjects seldom spoken on in Christian Hip Hop. A.W. Pink in the penultimate chapter of 'The Attributes of God', 'The Wrath of God' has this to say:

"A Word to Preachers. Brethren, do we in our oral ministry, preach on this solemn subject as much as we ought? The Old Testament prophets frequently told their hearers that their wicked lives provoked the Holy One of Israel, and that they were treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath. And conditions in the world are no better now than they were then! Nothing is so calculated to arouse the careless and cause carnal professors to search their hearts, as to enlarge upon the fact that "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Ps. 7:11). The forerunner of Christ warned his hearers to "flee from the wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7). The Saviour bade His auditors "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him (A)who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:5). The apostle Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11). Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about Hell as about Heaven."

In short; it is of utmost importance that the issue of God's wrath is discussed - people need to hear it, whether we, or they, like it or not!

Here's Theory's track:



Go to Humblebeast.com to get the full, free download of 'Thr3e'.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011's Best CHH Releases

One year comes to an end, another starts. There's just no let up; it's always one year or another. Last year saw my return to listening to Christian Hip Hop after relinquishing my duties writing for my own secular Hip Hop site.

In terms of music it's been a year I've enjoyed greatly. For the couple of years previous I'd been listening to way too much music, some good, some bad (for different reasons) because I committed to providing a very comprehensive coverage of the UK Hip Hop scene. This meant I no longer listened to music for pleasure. This year, picking up albums at my own pace, and listening to them for my own enjoyment has been great. Having said this, some of the albums I've listened to and enjoyed this year are ones I've had the priviledge of reviewing for SphereOfHipHop.com - an opportunity I've been very thankful for.

Now, in no particular order, and in no way definitive (because I've not listened to everything that's been released this year!), a list of my favourite Christian Hip Hop albums:

shai linne's 'The Attributes of God', was one which I was looking forward to. I love everything he'd done previously and he's been my most-played artist of 2011. The production on 'TAOG' didn't really do it for me but the lyrical and theological content is just so powerful that this is an album I'll be listening to for a lot longer. It also inspired me to finally read A.W. Pink's book of the same name, which is most excellent, although I do need to get on finish it now - it's only a short book! Get the download for $10 at the Lampmode site.

Braille's 'Native Lungs' was probably my most favourite CD this year. The beats are heavy, the rhymes are open and honest and Braille brings the gospel message clearer than most have ever done. This was a free download but I bought a CD because I loved it so much.

JGivens' 'Run' just popped up from nowhere for me. I'd never heard of him, or his music before but it blew my socks off. Creative and humourous whilst delivering messages of utmost importance JGiven's became my favourite new rapper. Fact. 'Run' is also now a free download on the JGivens Bandcamp page.

Earlier on in the year, right at the point of my return to CHH, two albums were released by Illect Recordings. The first one was muzeONE's 'Cold War', an album which reminded me of how credible the CHH scene can be - it's full of hard beats and clever, insightful, well-written rhymes. Solid stuff. You can get it for the ridiculous sum of $5 at the Illect bandcamp site.

The other Illect release was Sintax the Terrific's 'Prince With A Thousand Enemies' which was another release that got me inspired to read a book: Richard Adams' 'Watership Down' (another one that I've not finished because I had to take it back to the library - really want to finish it though!). The album takes concepts from the book and applies them to the life of a human, particularly to the life of a Christian. It's one of the most poetic releases I've heard this year and despite being based on a (so-called) children's book, it's also one of the deepest and most thought-provoking. This one can also be had for $5.

Another free download, and again from the Humble Beast stable: Theory Hazit's 'The Rock Is Steady' E.P./mixtape. It's a quick blast (15 minutes - perfect!) of bonafide Hip Hop music with a heavy nod to its predecessors. It gets no realer. Click here to get it!

Mr. J. Medeiros was an artist I'd known of for ages, primarily for his 'of gods and girls' album on Rawkus a few years back. In 2011 he dropped the genre-defying (although it's still Hip Hop to me) 'Saudade'. I loved the name, because I loved the word previously and I loved the album - tons of musically-excellent Rap music with lyrics to really get you thinking. This one's also $5 on Bandcamp - mental.

Paradox and DJ Sean P's 'Mending' was a release I reviewed for SOHH.com - another solid Hip Hop album full of some of the best beats and the best rhymes of the year. It's got a great list of guest appearances too - your favourites are bound to be there. Get this for $7.77, well why not?

Sneaking in at the last minute are theBREAX with their album 'Never Arrive'. It comes in on the back of a slew of excellent mixtapes and a building buzz that left me with no choice but to check this release out. I'll be reviewing it very soon for SOHH.com so look out for my thoughts on that one - suffice to say it'll be positive. This can be gotten here for an amount of dollars (which I can't see because I'm in the UK).

That's only a top 9, but it's only alliteration that dictates there should be 10. If you've not heard any of these, it's only going to set you back around 40 dollars to pick up all these quality projects - not bad eh? Here's to a new year and more fresh, God-glorifying, Kingdom-furthering, Christ-praising Hip Hop music.