Reviewed by: DJ Gravity X
Rating: 6.85 (Out of 10)
Let me start by saying I made a major mistake when I first grabbed the audio for this album from Da Messenger entitled Alien. The mistake was that I somehow started with track 6, “Weirdo,” and then fixed the order and started back at the “Alien Intro.” Why was that a mistake? Because what I heard made me want to throw my equipment across the room in disgust. No, there was nothing wrong in what Da Messenger said. Not at all. It was, instead, the method of production he used to say it. So let’s get right to the guts of this album.
The concept of Alien is that you are foreign to this land. That the culture that you adhere to and/or were raised on is considerably different than the one you have moved to or find yourself residing in. And so in some cases that would make the “Alien” a “Weirdo” because they are so vastly different than the norm. Look, these are not new concepts. Lecrae, Deraj, Group 1 Crew and many others have already played to these principles and there is certainly something strikingly apropos about the concepts. Where the problem starts to occur is in the practical application of the conceptual principle.
In order to be ‘weird’ and to try and sound ‘alien-like’ Da Messenger took to applying a very strong vocal distortion that made him sound like he was underwater while shaking a plastic microphone. Basically, it was the most annoying thing I could imagine Da Messenger doing apart from sounding constipated for an entire album and over dubbing his voice, but never managing to match the primary vocal (and yes, some artists made millions doing that nonsense). Thankfully, Da Messenger didn’t do that. Instead, he tried, with good intention, to be creative and different. Well, sometimes good intentions do not equate to good results.
Now, if that was all that I had heard then I would have chalked up Alien and Da Messenger as a total bust. But I’m not allowed to do that, nor is it in my nature to do so without more scrutiny. And that’s where things change and begin to improve. Let me assure you right now, this is not an “Underwater Rhymes” album. Even “Weirdo” didn’t turn out to be that bad if I skipped the hooks, which is the only place where the horrid effects occur. What I came to find was a decent southern/west coast styled gospel rap album with a strong biblical/Christ centered focus.
But it’s not all good news. “New Day” had its own production annoyances. There is a single, cheap sounding, keyboard sound monotonously repeated throughout the whole track and even is the feature, focused, sound for the track, as evidenced by its solo credits at the top and bottom of the track and is the only sound that never breaks. AHHHH! It made me feel like someone was trying to drive me crazy by locking me in a white padded room with no windows and only the steady sound of a water drop from a leaky faucet on tin. I hope to never hear that production decision replicated again.
After a while the album kind of lagged and didn’t really seem to offer much musically. When concentrating on the message, which seemed surprisingly difficult, there was certainly a steady stream of quality material, but it required far too much concentration. Maybe that was because more and more Da Messenger sounded like E-40 to me, who happens to have one of the most annoying voices, deliveries and styles that I have ever heard. I’m not saying that Da Messenger is that bad, but many of his vocal inflections were far too reminiscent of E-40 and that immediately shut me off.
Equally, the beats lacked any real ingenuity and were just much of the same that I’ve heard for the last several years out of the southern mainstream. It was tired a long time ago. I need something other than a cookie cutter beat which casts its locks solely upon a typical 808 kick and the same high hat/snare sounds that had appeared in better form back on Trip Lee’s “20/20” in 2008 and DJ Morph’s “International” in 2008. Let me repeat that… 2008!
Needless to say Alien has taken me on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. In the end, I don’t know if I’d come back to ride this particular rollercoaster that often as a full length ride. There are certainly good aspects. I would air tracks like Fade Out ft. Damon Golden and They Will Hate Us. I also really enjoyed Never Going Back ft. 737 & Montae Clark (a kind of clubby, pop track with heavy bass). Invade has a fantastic message and a standard commercial beat, which I can only take so much of. True Reward ft. Montae Clark is a fantastic R&P type track that I like more now than the first time I heard it. Worthy Of It All is probably exactly what it sounds like, a kind of hip-hop worship track. I also really liked this track, though I thought it could have been improved.
If I didn’t mention the title, well, I didn’t really like it, or maybe even hated it, sadly. What I found is that when mixed with together with other quality tracks from other artists, the better tracks from Alien are not only listenable, but really enjoyable. I even came to enjoy them even more. And the tracks I didn’t like, well, I didn’t have to hear, happily.
But that’s what happens in every rollercoaster. There are ups and downs, and sometimes some loops, twists and crazy turns. Some aspects are exciting and fun, others make you want to hope you didn’t eat recently. But maybe that’s what one should expect from an Alien and a Weirdo? After all, some cats are just Da Messenger.
Reviewed by: DJ Gravity X 11/11
Born with a reprobate mind, but drawn to Christ like gravity.
1. Music – 6.5
2. Flow/Delivery – 6
3. Lyricism – 5
4. Content – 9
5. Creativity/Originality/Relevancy – 5
6. Credibility & Confidence – 8
7. Personality & Character – 8
8. Presentation Quality – 9
9. Overall Production Quality – 7
10. Potential Impact – 5
Total – 68.5 or 6.9