Evangel is one of the illest emcees when he’s on. Very few hip hop artists, heck, very few songwriters come close to his lyrical imagery and use of similes. Despite all this, his solo work has previously disappointed me. Expository Journey, his first album, is a fantastic concept about the fictional journey of a non believer coming to faith in Jesus. However, it’s hurt by mediocre beats and interludes that do not seem to catch the experience of a non-Christian wrestling with the claims made in the Gospel. Does Elation Foundation, a similarly narrative-driven record, improve on Evangel’s debut. Yes and no. I’ll break it down into those distinct categories.
Evangel continues to shine as a lyricist. He’s as dope as you all remember, and his punch lines are crazy. If there’s ever a moment where Evangel’s rhymes don’t interest me, I think I’m giving up on this whole hip-hop fad. Instrumentally, he gets some very cool sample driven songs like “Shalom Factory” along with some underground east-coast bangers like “HR Department.” In addition, he continues to come up with great concepts. This time, we get to listen in on an intricate allegory of a man exploring the beatitudes Jesus gives in His sermon on the mount. Plus, by making the narrative a clearly fantastical tale, the interludes ironically seem more realistic!
These interludes are still annoying. Very, very annoying. I’m not sure if it’s the odd banter, the crummy jokes, or even the overly chipper elevator operator guiding the tour of the fictional “Elation Foundation” humming at every opportunity, but I just did not enjoy it…at all. It’s bad, even for the low bar set by hip hop music skits. A lot of the beats are still weak. In addition, I think putting six songs with similarly melancholy tone and tenor was a poor choice of album construction. Perhaps a different angle on the subject matter that could be accompanied with varying styles would have helped. But as it stands, it’s a 20-something minute blur to *start* the album.
All of this disappoints me, because I really enjoy Evangel. I will still get giddy if I ever see him featured on a song. Plus, no one can get tight at the amount of doctrine and theology you can get from his music. But man…those boring lulls and inconsistent musical quality really hurt his full album projects. I have hope that he can get a lot better there, but right now, his LP construction needs a lot of work.
Music: 3 of 10
Flow / Delivery: 7 of 10
Lyricism: 8 of 10
Content: 9 of 10
Creativity / Originality / Relevancy: 4 of 10
Credibility / Confidence: 7 of 10
Personality / Character: 7 of 10
Presentation Quality: 5 of 10
Overall Production Quality: 6 of 10
Potential Impact: 5 of 10