Thursday, January 31, 2013

Da' T.R.U.T.H. - Love Hope & War [Music Review]

Artist: Da’ T.R.U.T.H.
Album: Love, Hope, War
Street Date: 29th of January 2013
Record Label: XIST Music
Genre: Hip/Hop
iPod Pick: Ugly Love

Christian Hip Hop (if there’s anything like that) has come a long way over the last ten years with artistes like Priesthood (Known for the awesome crafted ‘Sprinkle Me Luv’) and ‘Papa’ T Bone leaving the scenes for intermediates such as KJ 52, and Ambassador. But with recent artistes like Propaganda, Lecrae and the 116/Reach Records Clique (ex and in, yes I mean ex and in. ex e.g. Sho Baraka), there’s a big competition out there even with the mainstream contemporaries and the roofs just got blown open with the releases fans have been getting recently. But Does Da’ T.R.U.T.H. latest record ‘Love, Hope, War’ make the roof the limit or the starting point? Let’s see…

Honestly when ‘The City’ started off, I just wanted to skip cause it sounded like one of those pop driven Karen Clark gospel songs (All my love for Karen, she is a powerhouse. Salute!) But was just intro.  The song builds up into something you would want to dance to, learn the lyrics and sing out your heart out along with Da’ T.R.U.T.H. as he talks passionately about a place beyond this place. Unlike most songs about heaven, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. doesn’t complain about ‘earth’ on this one, he even claims ‘I’ve got my umbrella if I’m standing in the rain’.

On D.O.S, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. raps boldly ‘ ain’t time to be peacemaking, men is time to be violent. Confrontation, that’s necessary’. One of the major themes on ‘Love Hope & War’ is a call to action for Christians to be who they’ve been called to be and stop trying to be ‘nice’. “ Heard that before” you might say but Da’ T.R.U.T.H. brings it closer to home by dealing with real topics such as how sexual temptation and addiction weakens Christians to stand up in the face of their world calling (‘Hunger Games’, ‘Peace Talking’).

Also ‘The G.O.A.T’ (meaning ‘The Greatest of all time’) deals with this generation’s obsession with celebrity. ‘J.I.F.E.’ (which means ‘Jesus is for everybody’) musically is beautifully and groovy. Honestly I’m still trying to grasp how the names ‘Kanye West’ and ‘Nick Cannon’ show up on this song. Interesting! 
Someone please tell me why ‘Real Love’ sounds so ‘Drake-ish’. That said, I also think Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s rap morphed on his new record. He sounds a lot more confident. Like he’s found a niche and I’m wondering why it took so many years.  ‘Table Talk’ is the song we’ve been waiting for. You got to print out the lyrics and put it up on your wall, it’s a message that must not be missed in the music. Powerful!

The opening of ‘Ugly Love’ would break up a big smile on your face. It’s a beautiful poignant tune. Don’t be surprised if you find your hands going up to the tune like you are in a concert. It’s a great song. It’s like Mr.  Lambert kept the best ones for last space as the groovy old school tinged Mary J. Blige-d styled ‘What about Love’ appears on track 11. The march past ‘Where Was I’ which deals with the sensitive topic of suicide as he talks about a friend who put a bullet through his head. The three last songs are worth the price of the album all together.

Putting aside hard to decipher abbreviations and unnecessary references to popular culture, this is like the best Christian rap record made in the last one year. Lecrae’s Gravity’s got nothing on this one, Propaganda’s Excellent neither. Beautiful Eulogy’s Satellite Kite no way. Though some may argue that ‘Love Hope & War’ is more message focused, true, but I think it balances out fine with its music. Go get Mr. Emmanuel Lambert’s (a.k.a Da’ T.R.U.T.H.)’s ‘Love Hope & War), you would be printing sermon notes soon and throwing a party too.

[Review Originally Penned  For and Featured Courtesy of]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cheneta Jones - Transformed [Music Review]

Artist: Cheneta Jones
Album: Transformed
Album Length: 12 Tracks: 47 minutes, 8 Seconds
Street Date: May 22. 2012
Label: Indie
iPod Pick: Be Like You
Genre: RnB

Let me put this out there first, the ‘Intro’ on Cheneta’s Debut is worth the price of the CD. It’s an acoustic reflective tune that would just get right through to you. 'Be Like You'  ‘I’m Yours’ rushes in with the rough beat RNB style artist such as Beyonce, Kierra KiKi Sheard and Tamia are known for. In fact on the ending Cheneta goes Motown with the adlibs just like Beyonce on her Austin Powers hit single ‘Work It Out’.

‘Liberty’ is that type of song you want to wake up to in the morning. It’s chorus is soft yet bold as Cheneta sings  ‘I’m walking in my liberty, no longer bound my insecurity. Forgetting those things which are behind. Future’s looking bright. I’m free’.  The free ranged adlib singing on ‘Get There’ is beautiful; it gives a very jazzy feel. ‘Disappear’ is a personal favorite as it uses strings and echoes in the classic Brandy style. Honestly you would love it. It’s a really beautiful piece. Other highlights include ‘We Worship You’ , ‘Sweet Obsession’ (a power-up beaty track which keeps me wondering why it shows up almost at the end of the CD) and ‘Hold On’. 

One thing about Cheneta Jones’ music is it subtle boldness. There’s the audacity that shines through her voice. For fans of Keri Hilson’s beaty ‘Pretty Girls Rock’, Beyonce’s Music and Brandy’s Soulful vibes looking for something more and deeper that honors God, Cheneta is your best bet and she’s sure going to be around for a long time, you can sure hear it in the sound.

Keyondra Lockett – Soul Couture [Music Review]

Artist: Keyondra Lockett
Album: Soul Couture (The Mixtape)
IPod Pick: Domino

There’s a new thing for covers of mainstream tunes amongst Christian circles these days, with Evin Amiri’s release of ‘Freedom Music’ and Israel Houghton giving pipes to ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (Made popular by Adele) on his new project ‘Jesus at the Center’. And guess what, class styled Keyondra Lockett doesn’t by pass the opportunity to make her own share of mainstream covers with the beaty Jessie J’s ‘Domino’ opening up the mixtape (obviously some lyrics were changed). If you are wondering ‘what’s the result of this musically?’, would you imagine with me for a moment Mary J. Blige singing one of Madonna’s pop tune say  ‘Like a Prayer’ while trying desperately to walk in her singing shoes. Funny, absurd or interesting, whatever comes to your mind first is what describes Keyondra’s version of ‘Domino’.  Personally, I love her version cause it really brings in an old school, retro, groovy feel with her beautiful ad-libs.

Can I be honest with you? ‘Turn up The Music’ which is a Chris Brown cover is so uncalled for. Even with the lyric change, I assure you you won’t stop singing the Chris Brown lyrics you already know alongside even as you listen to Keyondra’s. ‘Refill’ (an Elle Varner cover) and ‘Again’ (a Faith Evans cover) are beautiful in their rendition and gives us a real feel of what Keyondra’s music might be all about if she decides to bring entirely original songs to the table.

Are you ready for the last surprise, Keyondra also does a cover of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and I must say that is a very bold choice, for this very reason I want to have a talk with Keyondra Lockett over dinner and hear her story. She is sure a strong lady with guts. Who covers an already very successful and popular song whose artist is so incomparable to many in the music market? A lot would find this intimidating. And you guess what? She does it without the pressure, though the lyrics she puts in at times might feel like square pegs in round holes (also on the ‘Turn up The Music’ cover) but she still delivers a soulful worshipful tune that helps us savor her uniqueness.

So is the mixtape worth getting since it’s mostly covers? Yes it is, in fact if I were to rate it with the hook ups and hang ups I have with it, I still give it a five star. I love the ‘holiness in high heels’ feel Keyondra brings to the table. I see her even after her first full length or debut going ahead to be a strong role model for young ladies out there. She is one bold person you need to watch out for on the music scene and she would sure be around for a long time even after the Dominos falls. LOL. (And jokes apart you gotta love her version of Domino. Get the mixtape for free here if you haven’t)


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