Album Review – VS (Versus) – “The Legend of Xero”
Published on April 24, 2012
Reviewed by: Bradford Davis
Rating: 5.5 (Out of 10)
This little sphere of hip hop we sometimes call Christian hip hop has artists, promoters, fans and writers (like yours truly) that have big dreams for our subgenre. What would it look like for hip hop artists to drop music that doesn’t simply play catch up to the great music dominating the charts, but actually creates the sounds of tomorrow? I long to see this, and I’m encouraged when I hear artists advance the art form and stay true to their faith. The Legend of XERO’s VS (Verses) gives smoky glimpses into what our little genre can do.
Believe me, the glimpse is smoky for a reason. VS is a very inconsistent release. For starters, as a compilation, it doesn’t offer a lot of musical continuity that you’d like to hear from an album. Additionally, the mixing varies from track to track, shifting between “alright” and “pantyhose-on-a-MIC-vocals-uploaded-on-Garage-Band”. Some tracks will make you bob your head, but others might lose your attention quickly enough to move to the next track. Some verses in VS are ironically, not all that quality either. Doesn’t get much worse than hearing an emcee struggling to stay with the tempo of an instrumental, but that’s what Rachel Nuest does in her feature (“Day One”). There are real problems of that scale running through VS.
But, when the album is on point—the potential for greatness is apparent. What VS lacks in technical proficiency, it has in personality. Each emcee (aside from Rachel Nuest) displays some nice skill and really fantastic presence. Even when you’re not feeling the wordplay, you’ll like their delivery. Some of the instrumentals throughout the project are absolutely where our scene needs to be. Danceable, head-nodding rhythms and melodies, such as “Never Go Back” and “Let the Music Play” will catch any ear. Again, a shame the mixing lagged behind so much. Anyone that listens to hip-hop knows that hip-hop skits are terrible. Don’t expect anything better than lameness. But these actually have some entertainment value. XERO and his pals are legitimately funny. Well done!
This uneven review of praise and critique is reflective of the aforementioned variance seen through the album. To artists Nonetheless, VS encouraged me. The Legend of XERO displayed the kind of musical talent, especially on the instrumentation end, that could result in some incredible work. My hope is that he keeps pushing forward with quality ideas, while gathering the engineering skills to match.
Lyricism – 5
Content – 7
Credibility and Confidence -7
Personality and Character- 8
Presentation Quality- 2
Production Quality- 4
Potential Impact- 5