Now, THIS is my type of record. Nothing wets my hip hop appetite like raw East coast raps. Believin Stephen meets that crave, and then some. Little brother of Lampmodian ambassador Timothy Brindle, Believin Stephen brings some Philadelphian heat on his latest drop, “The Perseverance Mixtape”. Now before I sound like a fanboy, lemme reiterate, this is my style of music. It isn’t the most dexterous release you’ll hear, and there’s definitely some significant room to improve. But hey, it’s my review, right?
“You Want Jesus” highlights the upbeat portion of the mix. In this track, Steve and B-doe trade dope aggressive rhymes loosely discussing that Jesus does, in fact, save. I especially enjoying the unique Philly-slang sprinkling the track . “God is Diesel” has Steve rapping about God ‘s dieselness. (diesel= tough, strong) Dieselity? Dieselability? I don’t know the proper adjective, but either way there’s nothing new here. Still, it is hot, the emcees are brimming with confidence, and I dare you to play those songs on any setting but repeat.
The subject matter on the mix is fairly self-explanatory: Steve leads the listener on a journey of the character produced through persevering through our problems and the glory that is found as we stand strong and overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit. My favorite song on the mix, Secular Workplace, handles this theme incredibly. Average Joe and Believin’ Stephen transparently share the personal difficulties they face serving Christ in workspaces that don’t honor Him. Stylistically, the verses play out as a conversation between the two believers, encouraging each other to remain faithful to God despite their situation. The experience of trying speak and live the Gospel in a harsh environment is universal, and I think any Christian will be able to identify and be edified by it. Also strong is the closing track, “Perseverance of the Saints.” Steve goes through the self-titled doctrinal idea, thanking God for the eternal victory He promises all that are in Him will receive. The song is a big encouragement, with a great piano sample to complement the great message.
Perseverance does falter sometimes because of Believin’ Stephen’s delivery. Sometimes, the lyrics sound very clumsy, as if he tried to fit too many syllables around the fourth beat in his lines. Running the bars in multiple songs definitely hurt the quality. Also, some of Steve’s riskier joints just don’t work out too well. “Repeat Rhymes” exemplifies this. In it, he uses the exact same last few words for every pair of bars, sort of an experimental kind of rap song. Though I appreciate the risk, I don’t think it works well. The lyrics, even within the pairs (again, only two bars!) lack continuity, coming off as a bunch of random musings instead of quotes from a polished rapper. I saw what he was trying to do, but I just wasn’t feeling it.
All things considered, The Perseverance Mixtape was worth the download (did I mention it’s free? If I didn’t, it’s F.R.E.E.) As I mentioned earlier, the emceeing isn’t always that tight, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the project. Of course, it does help to have some appreciation for gritty east coast flavor. Jesus got the glory, my walk was encouraged, and I’m getting pretty fluent in my Philly-speak. Game time!
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Review by: Bradford Davis