Compilation Rapzilla.com Presents … King Kulture
Reviewed By: Oz’el Varese
Rating: 7 (of 10)
They are a few memorable times when prominent, influential artists come together to share their talents for a noble cause. The famous We Are the World project was created as an American benefit for African famine relief. Self Destruction brought together heavyweight East Coast emcees in 1989 in support of the Stop the Violence Movement led by KRS-One in response to violence in the hip hop and African American communities. And this year, Rapzilla founder Phillip Rood and his team had an idea to put together an all-star compilation album consisting of emcees who rep the Kingdom of Christ in an effort to benefit Ecole de la Borne, a school in Congo, Africa started by Christian missionaries. The result was King Kulture, a two-year project featuring sixteen never before heard tracks with more than 30 notable artists contributing. With artists such as Stefanatto, Braille, Theory Hazit, Japhia Life, Lecrae, Sho Baraka and GRITS; just to name a few all delivering for the overall theme of spreading the King’s [K]ulture across the globe – a very distinctive underlying theme was evident…
“Bring yo ‘A’ game homey…”
A one page album review is in no way sufficient for this type of collabo; too many artists and too many producers. This wasn’t a topical or a concept album. It seems as though each artist was told where the proceeds were going, but told to bring something hot and flaming to the table. Some delivered a little more than others.
“Lift Up” brought a boombap head-nodder produced by Theory Hazit, featuring fellow Humble Beast artist Braille. Braille never disappoints with his visually, metaphoric lyrics and continued to “[pour] out his heart while [he] rides the beat.” In b-boy fashion he boasts of his skills, but only as “a vessel of the Most Blessed and Most Holy” reminding us that any elevation is for “His glory.” Hailing from Vancouver, Dezcry displays a couple of delivery styles over a slow tempo-laid back beat in “Faith” produced by C-Life. At times the lyrics run together providing a struggle to catch each phrase, a battle which is more than often won by the tranquil drive of the instrumental in the backdrop. But the song does well on the album.
Benjah and Sky joined forces and produced “It’s Going Down” a typical southern beat with a catchy hook featuring Watchman and Stefanatto. Stefanatto shines, bringing his unique style and flow over this derty track prompting the listener to “just ask gravity/we all fall short ‘cause I told you what the standard be/righteousness the is just too high/ how can it be/that Christ took the charge/took the charge and the battery.” Kelly Kelz shifts the entire tone of the album to another gear with her vocals on “Drop It On Them” letting us know that she’s here, and “one step better than [she] was before.” This song, combining the styles of KJ-52 and Japhia Life, reminds us that they are liberated, works of Christ who are on the grind until they “sneak[ers] hit the streets of gold.” And Tony Stone does it again, bringing his well known, distinguishable sound to the album with this track.
Eshon Burgundy grabs an auditory Tommy Gun, calmly aims it at the eardrums of every listener, then unleashes a steady surge of lyrical lead on “Nothing For Us.” Comparing the world’s system to the Biblical system, Eshon is joined by HotHandz on the hook reminding the enemy that “we aliens, champions, [and] not of this world.” On verse two though he says he’s “letting up a bit” he comes even harder, finally relieving the listener’s eardrum after a third verse of nonstop violent, vicious worship giving notice to the kingdom of this world that we here and we taking everything. “Beautiful Struggle” is a nice, smooth articulation of the daily struggle that is prevalent the more the Spirit of God isn’t prevalent in our personal life. Reminding us that only what we do for Christ will last, Yaves the Street Pastor asks Christ to break him, build him, grow him, and show him, mentioning how he can’t wait to “see the [spiritually] grown me.” Cephas, who produced the track, brings a wonderful collection of sound, vocals, and samples to the auditory canvas; providing a beautiful backdrop of reflective thoughts as the listener walks with Yaves and Ron Riley who is featured on the track.
Sho Baraka does an interesting job with “Get Wise”, a different type of song that’s very much worth listening to. You know what you’re going to get from Sho, and he doesn’t disappoint, giving you good music that stands out on this album, ensuring that it won’t be one of the tracks skipped over.
And finally, saving the best detailed review for last, the title track is just flat out BANGING! Featuring the super group Beautiful Eulogy (Courtland Urbano, Braille, and Odd Thomas) along with Theory Hazit and Lee Green, this track pretty much sums up the entire project. Braille begins by ripping off your audio flesh over this Courtland Urbano produced beat, initiating this “preemptive strike” while “expressing the excellent essence of Christ.” Then comes Theory, who tells us that the source of our strength is acquired by “linking up with the same power that took the feet from the serpent.” Odd Thomas begs us to stay true to the art and “wave the banner in a manner that’s not only possible/to redeem the influence on the culture and at the same time present the gospel” – words that should be stamped on the hearts of every emcee who is a Follower of the Way. Lee Green lends a hand for the hook, but then drops fire on the last verse throwing bars like, “freedom rings/the lawyer called to drop the charges/and at the cross is where the judge saw they swapped the corpses/now every colors in His hand/like a box of markers/the rock is gorgeous/not even tidal waves couldn’t stop applauses.”
There are some misses, which unfortunately affects the overall rating; “Stop” by Jeremiah Bonds seems like an attempt at being unique, but falls terribly short of “good” leaving the thought of an ironic nomenclature in the mind of the hearer. T-Word puts forth a lot of effort on “Bars” but substance-wise there is nothing there.
As far as rest of the album, there is some decent music, but for the most part nothing catchy or impressive with the other tracks.
Overall, this was a good album, with most of the weight carried by the certified bangers mentioned in the previous paragraphs. As a collaboration, it offers a variety of styles in a one stop shop for the variety of tastes prevalent in our art form. Though varied in skill levels, a common thread is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. On the real though, this is one of the best compilation albums I’ve heard, especially since it included such a variety of Christ-centric artists and producers, spanning across labels, groups, and cliques. I was impressed with the content and the presentation of the entire project. It was well rounded, covering not just the familiar tones of modern, radio friendly hip hop but included the fainting gutter sounds of “a kick, snare, kicks and high hat”*. If you wanted to introduce anyone who is not blood washed to art that doesn’t represent this worldly kingdom, this is a great album to start with.
- Music – 6 of 10
- Flow/Delivery – 6 of 10
- Lyricism – 6 or 10
- Content – 7 of 10
- Creativity/Originality/ Relevancy – 6 of 10
- Credibility/Confidence – 7 of 10
- Personality/Character – 7 of 10
- Presentation Quality – 8 of 10
- Overall Production Quality – 7 of 10
- Potential Impact – 10 of 10
*if you don’t know that reference… then get off this site. [ he’s kidding, don’t leave us! – ed.]