Christcentric have been around a long time. In today’s market, where rappers appear and disappear as quickly as lady Gaga’s outfits, longevity is something to be envied and admired. From their humble beginnings in 1998 to debuting in CHH with The Mind of Christ in 2002, they have been the spearhead for theological, biblically solid hip-hop. Over the years, Christcentric, Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle and others have taken the place of mentors and teachers as they have educated me in my faith and taught me the Word. You can call them, the urban theologians of our day! Despite this, there have been no albums, apart from 13 letters, that have taken a book of the bible and sought to teach on it. So this album is ground-breaking and can be considered to be truly the first of its kind, expository hip-hop.
The theme of the album, as you might have guessed from the title, is illuminating the book of Ephesians verse by verse, just like your typical Sunday sermon. This is a challenging task to say the least. What does it include you ask? Well first they would have to consider the verse, passage, the chapter, book and the whole counsel of God and explain the meaning of each verse. Next they would have to tie that in with the history of the passage, and finally putting that to ill rap. I guess that is a heavy charge. I guess that is why no other rappers have done it prior to this. Well I am happy to say, that these emcees have definitely studied and shown them approved to be teachers to us, the listeners.
There are no mistakes on the lyrical side of things. It’s quite easy to overlook the lyrical talent that is present on the album. Almost all emcees on the project are avid lyricists that would put to shame 98% of the secular rappers. Of course, the brilliant emcees such as the Brindle brothers and Evangel need no introduction, being the elite and the best that CHH has to offer but relative new comers such as Ben Otero & Zae Da Blacksmith manage to hold their own against such aforementioned Titans.
Just take the keys driven, One In Christ, where Evangel & Ben teach on Ephesians 2:11-22 where Evangel comes with rhymes such as,
“At one time ya’ll were enemies, lets cross train your brain, jog your memories & make it all plain, dirty guys that arise from the splice, serpent’s lies called circumcised by the uncircumcised.”
After a blazing verse like that, it’s quite tough to top that however Ben does a magnificent job, starting his rhyme before the beat drops and landing his punch with the kick. Oh and did I mention that he had the best flow on the whole album?
On Grace Through Faith, the Brindle brothers exchange bar for bar and line for line, literally while expounding on Ephesians 2:1-10 while Jovan Mackenzy and B-doe talk about Walking In Love, what it means and what it looks like. Often such dazzling is taken for granted however we do need to sit back and really see how many lyricists are really present in the art of hip-hop. Like Pro said, in his city everybody raps which I can only guess is the norm for every city in the US of A, but there are only a few emcees. Emcees really are the Last of a dying breed.
Continuing onto the production side of things, there were again no surprises. In the past, the letdown for Christcentric has always been the beat selection. Despite being boombap beats, they are often stale beats but over the course of their last two projects, Didactic Music Vol. 1 & now this, they have really sought to improve in that area with more instruments and better arrangements. This is clearly seen again on the aforementioned One In Christ, which flips a sample and interlaces it with beautiful keys with a complementing boombap kick/snare combo. The fantastic thing is that the backing tracks actually match the subject matter. This is clearly demonstrated on The Whole Armor Of God, which has epic horns and drums matching the whole war theme. This can also be seen on the bonus song, Fight for the children, that every person reading this review needs to hear right now. With somber keys and strings, Evangel talks about abortion. Very appropriate and very much needed.
In conclusion what can I really say about this album? Just like Christology was the pioneering album for theological rap, this album is a pioneering album for expository rap. For those looking for something to “ride to,” something light to break ya neck to, then this ain’t it.
However, if you are a hip-hop head (to test to see if you are a hip-hop head, check this song. If you love this song then yes you are, if you hate it, this album aint for you!), love the bible, want to mature in your faith and want to love Christ more, than this album is for you. It’s as simple as that.
1. Music – 8
2. Flow – 9
3. Creativity / Originality – 8
4. Relevancy – 9
5. Content & Character – 8
6. Credibility & Confidence – 8
7. Personality – 8
8. Presentation Quality – 7
9. Overall Production Quality – 7
10. Potential Impact – 7