This guy is labeled as a Gospel/R&B singer and producer, born and raised in southeast Florida. Glee club in college is actually where he got most of his experience and high-level performance opportunities for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder. He was also very involved in a mega-church, singing and performing on a regular basis and working with the youth. His first album came out in 2003 and he's been working ever since.
This album is actually a double, so lots to hear here. We'll go ahead and do some combo paragraphs so you're not daunted with more reading. :) Hey, I have to keep an audience interested somehow!
I'll preface this with the fact that I used to attend Creation Festival in PA every year when I was in my early teens. There, you could see every single genre worshiping - and that was something else, let me tell you. Try a heavy metal band praising. Whew, what an experience. What I'm getting at it that any style can adapt to a belief system and show it through their music, so this could be awesome - or at least interesting.
"Already Gone" is immediately fast in the rap and high in the auto-tune. This does not bode well for my personal enjoyment, but we'll give it a shot nonetheless. It's just hard to keep track of words in cases like this, or really even want to. He sings a little more understandable for "Big," showing that a style of song you'd hear while people are grinding on a dance floor can just as easily be used in praise. The vocals change their sound a little for one verse, which makes me think there's got to be other rappers and/or singers featured throughout this, but I'm not seeing the credits. *shrug*
Hahahaha. "They dun let them Christians in da club, oh my God." Seriously - that's the opening chorus of "In Da Club." How can you not help but laugh at that? It's an interesting take on a club song, don't get me wrong. I love the sentiment, but I can't take it seriously enough to preach about it. It just sounds so funny in song. On a more serious note, with a really nice musical arrangement, we get the next song "Worshipper - Urban Mix." Mix-wise, I really like it. I will say, I've never loved the Christian music that talks about being in love with God. It's just an intensity factor that turns me off of the idea. I'm not making a statement one way or another her religiously, it's just not in line with my tastes of praise music.
That one flows right into "You Have My Heart" so seamlessly. I thought it was just the same song, until the melody changed just slightly enough for me to click over and check. It's in the same vein as the last song subject-wise, but serves as more of a toned-back interlude, almost reminiscent of the church book songs that repeated with a slow verse of praise.
"Necessary" has J Fortune (or something) at last identify himself at the start, as the hype man so far as I can tell. The song's subject is about the necessity of praise above all else. This is where the gospel aspect of his music comes in full-on, instead of just being about the religious aspect. There's a whole dang choir in the background (something about cursing on this post just seems from). He also references Mary Mary - I don't know if the female vocals in there are associated, but nice throwback. Speaking of throwbacks, we're heading down the bayou with "That Devil," an upbeat attack song on the evil devil. We've got a horn section, traveling with him on his search down the river to defeat evil. It's actually a really interesting and different vibe for the album.
I have to say that "Beautiful" is a love song to a girl - it just has to be. Otherwise, we're going South Park with these religious songs (see the episode where Cartmen starts a religious group and replaces pop song lyrics with Jesus). It's actually a sweet sentiment for a love song. I mean, when's the last time an R&B song just kept is simple like this, relying on such a basic, but huge, compliment? At least without some other motive.
Someone please turn on "All About The Kingdom" and tell me they're hearing what I am. This one's here to laud a girl who's devoted to God, which is awesome when you're looking for that. But the sound itself.. I don't know. some of these songs just sound like parodies of themselves. It continues on into "When I Ride." I know they're being serious about the subjects at hand, but the stereotyped sounds in there are just SO heavy and hard to hear. Music aside, the words are tough to hear in this one as he trails downward on the end of every single line - it gets old.
"On the Run" is sort of interesting. There's talks about friendship and bettering the world. I mean, I guess the best word to sum it up is "nobel." Everything he talks on is good and heartfelt. What doesn't make much sense is the title tying into those concepts. I guess he's running to something (goals of world peace and whatnot), not away, but the phrase doesn't fit in that case either. I have to say, I'm having the same issue with "I'm Fly." That phrase is self-promoting, but it sounds like a love song. They even sing "I believe I can fly," sounding like hope for the future. My guess on this one is that he's more fly with God's help and God's help only.
In the next track, we get the harder, more ghetto rapper, straight off the streets. "I Am." Kanye? Is that you? Probably not, but it does sound like it. I get this one though - I Am is another term for God, so it does make sense in context, promise. Almost laughed with the ad lib singing out though. Favorite line: "he sort of like an iPad and I'm just a Kindle." It continues on into "He Reigns," which uses the drum cymbals more than a marching band. This is back to the Gospel feel from before, complete with backing choir. I think I may have mentioned in another post on another Grammy Gospel nominee that I was in a gospel choir in college for a semester. This sounds right up our alley, provided we could ever get a decent rapper.
"Be Healed" is probably more along our lines from back in the day. it's sung, not rapped, and it's much of the story and praise for the crucifixion. Basically, if you can sing on the wind about Jesus' name and your belief of his glory, you've got a song Chadasha was proud to sing. In the same performance vein, "Mother's Prayer" serves as an intro speech, or maybe just and interlude speech, of praise and prayer. I heard SO many of these growing up and Christian concerts. They were pretty consistent. and normally woven right into a song, as if the case here with "Hallelujah," a more intense feeling song of praise. Except for one Newsboys concert where he preached for an HOUR. Of course, they didn't have the added intense rap to wrap it all up.
"Worshipper - Pop Mix" is the final song. I have to say, this would make an incredible pop song for the radio if it weren't about being a worshipper of God (oh, come on, you know that's not going to play on mainstream). The music in this is really great for a pop song, and the melodies are fantastically crafted against it. It's just a lovely number to end on.
Added to My Playlist:
- "That Devil"
I'm going to hell for this review, moreso for the thoughts and laughter I held back than what was actually written. Like I said, I'm not going to go religious on anyone here - I believe in God and let's leave it at that. There's just too much on this album that goes too far into the respective genres attempted, and when you couple that with the religious aspect, the whole thing gets a little funny sometimes. But I mean... the videos were sort of cool, right?