Album Review Mr. D. Tunes "Winner Already"
The world of Hip Hop as a whole has changed. The rules or guidelines for a typical Hip-Hop act aren’t followed as closely as they used to. As long as it’s catchy and it makes the people move then it’s a win-win. Normally that model translates into a million singles being released at the same time. Today it’s easy for the average listener to incorrectly connect a single to an artist that the song doesn’t belong to. The paradigm has shifted and it’s hard to tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. If that wasn’t tough enough, sprinkle in the Christian Hip Hop community and I’m sure purist would also be stuck in this same conundrum.
The current state of CHH can make it extremely difficult for a new artist to carve out their own path. As a modern-day creative, it’s as if originality and or creativity is no longer expected or required. Somewhere between mumble and conscious rap, once in a while, there is a sound that takes us back to the basics. In an age where songs are created today, uploaded, and released tomorrow, how can a new artist have their voice heard in the midst of an over-crowded genre? Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to leap forward.
If only for a moment, this allows us to refocus and realign to the original foundation set by our CHH forefathers. That step back isn’t always a negative thing because it could actually serve as the catalyst for a much-needed reset or recalibration. Derrick Roach, better known as Mr. D. Tunes, is one of those new artists on the scene that is using his opportunity to clearly take it back to basics which starts with, “Jesus Loves You”, lets you know “I’m blessed and highly favored” and ultimately the end game is to hear “Well Done.”
The great thing about his ministry is that he is already rooted within the very community that he strives to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2013 he launched an organization called KidsAreNext which leads a program that he created to help enhance and support the skills of current and aspiring artists. The success of this program afforded him the opportunity to release his first full-length debut project entitled “Winner Already” on 02/2020.
During the intro track “No Weapon” Mr D.Tunes uses a melodic piano sample over a dope early 2000’s styled Boom Bap to convey a message that would be the foundation for the entire project, “I was just stressed out/ Didn’t take the best route/ Everything is set now/ My focus is reset now.” It’s from this perspective that Mr. D. Tunes uses this album as a vehicle to encourage, inspire, and compel people to get to know Jesus for themselves.
That same theme and sound remain throughout; however, there are occasional curve balls that can catch your attention, and cause your fingers to hit replay. “Wait For It” is a song with the island sound that would be ideal for a summer road trip with the top down and the system up. In this song he sings, “You’ve got to wait for it, slow it down there’s a date on it. Don’t make the wrong moves and catch a case for it.” For the song “Next Time” a female vocalist paints a clear picture of a reality many face today, “I lost my money in a poker game. The tank’s on E and the rent’s late. The great thing about time it’s always changing. So next time I’ll make it alright.” It’s songs like these where Mr D. Tunes truly earns his keep
That truly comes across with the title track “Winner Already” where he proudly proclaims, “With God I’m a Winner Already.’ The message within the album is clear throughout; however, when it comes to beat selection, story lines, lyrical delivery, Mr D. Tunes doesn’t always stick the landing, but that’s ok. With each listen I continue to say to myself, “There is something there.” I believe that with the right team around him during the creative process to challenge him his best work is yet to come.
There are times when keeping it basic will suffice but there are also other instances when an artist has to dig deep to pull out some of their greatest work. It’s those songs that resonate with the listener and increases the overall probability of project replays in the future. As a CHH Veteran myself I cringe when I go back and listen to my own earlier projects. As Mr D Tunes spends more time in the Word of God, in the face of the Father, and surrounded by the right people to challenge him, I believe the overall level up will be unreal by project number 2. I’ll be waiting.