In a recent online interview, Sean Slaughter was asked if the popular southern and pop music has impacted the way he makes his own music. His response related that of course it has. An artist would be crazy to not pay attention to what’s hot right now and work to stay relevant with it. It looks like Sean isn’t the only one with his wits about him. With this Jesus High EP, Applejaxx has proven to know how to be relevant with what’s poppin’ while also putting together some of his best work to date.
Don’t ask me what the formula has been for the growth of Applejaxx, because I have no idea. I’ve respected Applejaxx for his talent but have never been much of a fan of his work. I found him just a little bit behind the movement of the music, just a little bit short on quality and/or just not my steeze.
Well, slap me in the face and call me Suzy – don’t actually do that – cause Applejaxx just murdered this EP! The production is exceptional with real creativity and attention to detail, keeping each of the tracks moving, ebbing and flowing. The lyrics are on point too, especially the verses. The topics are relevant using for symbolism for much of what is popular right now (i.e., phone applications). And whether it’s a feature vocalist like Ashleigh Nikole who is smooth and pitch perfect or emcees like Applejaxx himself whose delivery was sick, the vocals are amazingly well done as well.
But this is a Gravity review so that means a deeper critique is going to be made. First, one must realize that this is merely a 5 track EP. Thus, it’s either just a few tracks – including the single – to keep your mouth wet while a full length project is in the works but far from completion, or it’s some of the best tracks that Applejaxx is purposely leaking to build expectation for their full length project soon forthcoming, or he’s just testing the waters for his new found sound or some combination thereof. Regardless of the reason, there are still a couple minor lows, but some real serious ‘highs.’
I found it interesting that each track has a feature. Nothing wrong with that, just interesting to me. But it does seem to add flavor, enriching each track with the adept use of the track’s feature. Also, swag is a term I would now use to in positively describing Applejaxx’s characteristics, something I would not have used previously. His delivery is beastly and appealing from start to finish – the producer did well to capitalize on this. Yet, the delivery and production are only coupled by very strong Christ centered lyrics throughout every part of every track. This all adds to the complimentary comments previously made.
So while there are highs, the hook on the title track and single “Jesus High” is not completely one of them. I’ve always found it pitiful and childish to use an aberrant construct (i.e., getting high on drugs) and then try and flip it into something spiritual. Sorry, being spirit filled and joyous are definitively different in feeling, as well as reality, than having your brain and sensory system grossly manipulated by drugs. Furthermore, a lot of unsaved people look at is as just trying to copy them because even the concept of something like ‘getting high’ is cooler than lifting praise unto Christ and living holy. I know not everyone feels that way, but that’s where I am and where many others, saved and unsaved, are as well. So I’m not feeling the concept of using Jesus High in a drug-like induced manner and relate it to being Godly. If the reference were instead short for High School and this EP were more educational, then I’m with you. But the hook for the track makes the point clearly evident:
“Everyday we lift Him high, I’m on that Jesus high.”
Look, I’m very much aware that the track was extremely well done and that the lyrics in the verse even specifically mention that they are not on drugs or alcohol or anything of the sort, but instead are remaining sober taking glory in the Lord and staying tight in the word. I get it. I get that “we lift Him high” in our worship. The lyrics in the verses and the rest of the hook are fantastic. But, we are not ‘getting high’ on the Spirit or the Lord. It’s just debased and distasteful. But that’s my soapbox.
Yet, with all that said, Jesus High is the single and has received high acclaim in Christian and secular circles. If I were not burdened with my view of the use of “getting high” I would be in 100% agreeance with all of the acclaim the track has received. Yet this concept relates to something else I didn’t particularly like, which was the cover art. The cover art is really well done technically, it’s beautiful and catches the eye, but using ascending smoke with “Jesus High” just furthers the concept of getting lifted on drugs is cooler than God – even though that’s not what Applejaxx is trying to imply and directly speaks out against on the track. Sorry, ending my soapbox on this topic now.
One other thing I didn’t particularly enjoy was the hook for “App For That.” The track is actually sick apart from that. The concept is relevant, the verses are great and the beat is exquisite. I just didn’t feel the way the hook worked with Trini only rocking that part. I don’t even think I made it through a single play through before “there’s an app for that” got really annoying. Again, probably just me. In the long run this is possibly a minor issue. But it does make me not want to listen to the track as often as the beat would make me want to.
Now, I apologize to Applejaxx for taking those critical digs on an EP, but I got to keep it honest and thorough. Also, I’m admitting that I can’t give full marks of any kind for an EP cause, well, it’s an EP. However, despite a few minor shortcomings, I stand by the fact that this is Applejaxx’s best work to date, certainly worth acquiring and shines an even brighter light unto the future for Applejaxx. When you get this album, prepare to bob your head, move your body and really, really enjoy it despite the few tracks.
This can only mean one thing, okay maybe two, Applejaxx’s “Jesus High” is going to have a good ‘high’ score and ‘high’ appeal… and I’m going make a series of very, very, very bad, simplistic puns.
Music: 9 of 10
Flow / Delivery: 8 of 10
Lyricism: 7 of 10
Content: 8 of 10
Creativity / Originality / Relevancy: 8 of 10
Credibility / Confidence: 9 of 10
Personality / Character: 8 of 10
Presentation Quality: 5 of 10
Overall Production Quality: 9 of 10
Potential Impact: 7 of 10