Hip-hop as a music genre is crossing barriers like never before. Starting from the Bronx in the 70’s, hip-hop has matured to an international level. While some might question the legitimacy of it as an art form, its influence from Sudan to Japan is undeniable. However, with the genre’s growth, the market for international artists has been relatively small. Apart from a few artists such as the Latin group, Cypress Hill, Somali rapper, K’Naan, and our very own Australian hip-hop group, Hilltop Hoods, the artists have been mainly American. Even in the Christian hip-hop scene, the UK market is fairly minor, compared to the American market, while the Australian market is almost non-existent. But the international market is slowly being filled; with the arrival of the likes of one they call E.D.M.
Hailing from the island country of Trinidad & Tobago, EDM arrives on the shores of America, with his unique blend of heavy calypso-influenced hip-hop that has a tinge of old-skool west-coast flavor permeating it. Did I get your musical taste buds watering? Well then the entre on the menu is Join His side, with a bouncing bass line that speaks on, as the name suggests, that Jesus walks with us by his side, caring for us and strengthens us.
Next up for the main meal, is Heaven or Hell? E.D.M. tackles this weighty matter over a stringed beat with bongo’s and other Caribbean instruments, with the last chorus being sung in Spanish (I think). Of course, as you would have guessed by now, coming from the Caribbean, brings with it the unique accent, which the envy of many. That voice is certainly distinct. One thing is for sure, EDM is not going to be confused with any other rapper on the scene, secular or otherwise. No one sounds like he does.
A unique voice and accent has its perks. One of the main ones is the ability to rhyme words that wouldn’t normally rhyme and making the rhymes sound so cool! However the perks also come with their drawbacks as well. On a single listen, the rhymes sound good, but after a while, the single word rhymes that were awesome start to sound amateurish, as the novelty wears off. And once the novelty wears off, the rhymes are actually very basic. Not many multi-syllable rhymes, not much wordplay present and the beats start to wear down. EDM does switch up his flow by going double-time on a few tracks but the delivery sounds forced as he misses beats and timings.
That is the disadvantage of being international. There are not many professional hip-hop artists present to guide the young, talented individuals, and so they have to learn through their headphones, while in the states there is a vast network of artists that work with each other and challenge each other in their craft.
The production value on the album is also a hit and a miss. On some tracks, the vocals come out too loud and the track elements are too soft. The EQ has not been explored, so the result is some tracks have this high frequency whine that irks the ears. Also often the track components blur together so it is difficult to discern between the instruments as it all becomes one big noise. The mixing and mastering could have certainly been crispier.
EDM has crafted a unique album. That is a rare statement in today’s cookie-cut pop albums. With a little mentoring from veterans, he will go a long way. This is certainly God-exalting, real life music, and if you are a fan of Caribbean/alternative music, or even looking for a different sound in your hip-hop you should definitely grab this one. After all, hip-hop is international now.
1. Music – 6
2. Flow – 4
3. Creativity / Originality – 6
4. Relevancy – 4
5. Content & Character – 7
6. Credibility & Confidence –7
7. Personality – 7
8. Presentation Quality – 4
9. Overall Production Quality – 4
10. Potential Impact – 4