Plain James – Word of Truth
Published on June 29, 2012
Reviewed by: Neil Christian
Rating: 4.9 (Out of 10)
Atlanta is home to some of hip-hop’s biggest stars since the demise of Pac & Big. Whether artists like Outkast to Cee-lo Green to Jermaine Dupri, it has long been known as the center of gravity in hip-hop. Out of this city comes a Christian rapper called Plain James. A new comer to the CHH scene, he carries the distinct slang of the city and is another addition to the CHH representations of Atlanta.
The production is one of my favorite aspects about Word of Truth. It is quite varied. There is the soul-sampled classic east coast “Yes It Will” with riding hats and soaring synths that are quite reminiscent of 9th Wonder. Then, there is “No. 1” featuring Annoje, which is a mellow, jazz inspired track which allows Plain James to talk about the love of Christ in a believer’s life.
However, on the flip side we also have tracks such as “Let’s Go” which is a Luger-southern track with big synths and even bigger kicks. It would be a great track if the producer had not said “beats are so fresh.” The quality of the backing track does not even come close to matching up the producer’s claim to “freshness”. In fact, this beat is about 2 years old in hip-hop culture. Then there is “Ghetto Psalm,” featuring recent Clear Sight Music signee Young Noah. This mid-tempo beat samples “CREAM”, the Wu Tang classic. It also features electric guitars and other samples of speeches on the chorus such as the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King. This track provides Plain James ample opportunity to highlight the hood life and its traps and finally presents the solution that is found in Christ.
The main downside to the production is the mixing. Due to the poor mixing the songs are not fully realized. Going back to “Yes It Will”, the hi-hats were too loud and overpowering while the vocals were quite soft. This caused the artist to sound dull and uninterested.
Coming to the rapper Plain James, it is quite evident from his slang that he is a southern rapper. It’s quite different hearing a southern accent similar to Pimp C’s on the smoother tracks like “I Can’t Complain”. On this track he has lines such as “learn life is a test/ go sharpen your number 2 and/ study to show yourself approved/”. Those are solid lyrics. He is definitely a good rapper with good bars but the repetitious flow and vocal pitch gets tedious on some tracks. Switching up flows and stretching his vocal range would go a long way to improving his music.
Plain James brings an OK album with a varied sound to the table. With jazzy soulful tracks to southern bangers, this album has something for everyone. The monotonous flow and bad mixing was off-putting on the project; however the instrumental tracks were better than most CHH albums dropping every month. With better mixing and a little work on his rapping, Plain James will be a rapper to watch in the future.
Rating – 4.9
1. Music – 7
2. Flow – 4
3. Creativity / Originality – 5
4. Relevancy – 5
5. Content & Character – 5
6. Credibility & Confidence – 5
7. Personality – 6
8. Presentation Quality – 4
9. Overall Production Quality – 4
10. Potential Impact – 4