Campain is kind of a new cat coming from out of New York with his freshman album “Running God’s Race.” Sometimes what you get from a freshman album is a pleasant surprise, other times it’s a kind of sobering, but disappointing, letdown. The same applies to politicians on their first campaign for office, more often than not resulting in disappointment for the person campaigning and those who supported the politician. So, the questions are: What will the expected result be for this Campain in his “Running God’s Race?” What will the polls say in the end? Will I ever stop making pointless political references in a music review? And how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? The world may never know the answer to the last few, but we can take a shot at the first question.
Running God’s Race is very much ministry minded album, which is a good thing. All Christians like to hear God uplifted and the body edified. However, what is greatly lacking is the musical mindedness that makes an album really appealing, whether secular or holy. There are a lot of great ideas in this album and some good lyrics at times, but it’s all for nothing if the songs don’t appeal to the ear and the proverbial musical soul. There is one knock given to certain artists/groups that are almost too ministry minded or too churchy, they turn out music that is just “cheesy.” I hate to say it, but there is a lot of cheese in this proverbial musical sandwich with very little meat and rather stale bread.
Among the stale bread aspects of Running God’s Race is the fact that the album is heavily overloaded by synthesized ambient sounds, which reminded me of my childhood trips to Epcot and Disney World’s Future World area. It just doesn’t work for me at all, especially with the southern beats and style this New Yorker raps upon. Speaking of the southern beats, well to be blunt, they are unoriginal, uninteresting and poor in general production quality. I guess the synthesized ambience was supposed to be the ‘original’ aspect, but it didn’t cover things up as much as creating another annoyance.
Look, maybe it’s just me? I’ll accept that if it is the case. But I have a decent track record as a fan of electronic music, techno and house and enjoy the idea of blending genres together. This particular signature sound just did not work. Good idea, poor execution.
And while we are on being outdated, because we really are, the poorly executed Autotune elements just accentuated the lack of quality. Was it really necessary to continue down this played-out path? Even if the answer is yes, the execution has to be on point and like much of this album, it’s not. But I’m afraid that’s not all. To speak of some of the feature vocalists on this album (“Calling” being the biggest culprit) and what may have appeared to be Campain’s own attempt, well, I need to revert to my Randy Jackson voice:
‘Dog, dog, check it, yo. Eh, that wasn’t good man. It was really pitchy dog. It was kind of all over the place dog, nah mean. Sorry. I like you though. It was just pitchy, dog.’
Just when Autotune needed to be used, and for its intended purpose of fixing these pitch issues, it was sorely missing. But if there was a positive stand out it was One Body which did manage to do near everything right. And while the style, sound and all that stuff was very much a copycat of other successful tracks, the odd spokenword-like ending was definitely original. Not my favorite part, but I’ll give it originality.
One of the oddest moments for me was with “Let It Go.” It was odd because all I could hear was Optimus on his Cyborg Circuitry mixtape from 2006 where he and his brother took shots at lame, simplistic southern music. The hook was far too similar, essentially being the repetitive “let it go, let it go, let it go,” etc., with the same gravelly southern swag. Almost a carbon copy really. So very strange for me and a real disappointment.
Another odd moment was with “Doesn’t Matter,” where in all I could hear in my head during the hook was MC Hammer’s “Addam’s Grove.” Agreed, all that is really similar is the cadence and the “dance how you wanna dance” line. But every time I hear that part I couldn’t stop thinking/ saying, “kick and then slap a friend, the Addam’s family -finger snap-.” But I’ll write that up to me and being my personal issue… I just hope the same doesn’t happen to you.
The only time that I could really tell that Campain was from the NY was with the intro and “What’s Real” and maybe “Put That Woman First,” which also happens to be a good track though the beat was missing something to make it full and warm. I love East Coast stuff. I grew up on it. I like the grimy stuff as well as the jazzy stuff and most everything in between. But Campain made me think he was from Virginia, Minnesota, or Louisiana instead of New York for much of the album.
Sorry to Campain for what I have and am about to say, but this one is a miss folks. A few years ago this album might have garnered better results. But it’s 2010… too little, too late. There were plenty of dope concepts in this album, but the execution fell short. I hope future projects are better and enough experience has been gained to ensure such a hope becomes a reality.
Music: 4 of 10
Flow / Delivery: 5 of 10
Lyricism: 3.5 of 10
Content: 6.5 of 10
Creativity / Originality / Relevancy: 3 of 10
Credibility / Confidence: 5 of 10
Personality / Character: 5 of 10
Presentation Quality: 6.5 of 10
Overall Production Quality: 4 of 10
Potential Impact: 1 of 10