Those who’ve been keeping up with the Christian Rap scene will be familiar with at least one of the artists now signed to Collision records and who now bring the ‘We Live As Kings’ project to the arena: Swoope, Christon Gray, Dre Murray and Alex Faith (as well as Wit, Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny assisting on the boards) . There’s a good chance too that one, or more, of them will be in your top 10 favorite artists of the moment.
In some respects the four vocalists represent differing tastes and styles, for instance, Dre’s your out-and-out gritty MC whereas singer/rapper Christon Gray brings a nineties/noughties RnB vibe. In fact, it’s Gray’s delicious vocals that perhaps have the greatest impact here – they bring freshness and will have the most hardened Hip Hop head feeling soulful.
Right from the get go there’s a sense of elation to this album (the polished, cinematic production greatly contributes to this) and the uplifting ‘Intro’ prepares the listener for the encouragement held within. Once the main posse cut ‘Imagine’ has showcased everyone’s verbals (including Christon’s rapping and singing) single ‘Long Way Down’ by Gray and Dre (and produced by Swoope) raises the battle cry: that we should no longer conform to this world (Romans 12), that we should put on the new self (Colossians 3) and that we are now co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8). This most excellent theme continues throughout the album.
This is an album crafted for the main purpose of encouraging those living in Christ. Biblical manhood is the focus of the encouragement (although ladies get a look in, particularly on ‘WLAQ’) and the songs set out a great example for men young and old alike for living a life centered on Christ. Lyrics such as “Welcome to the royal family, God is my father, do you really understand me? He’s really the best example, ’cause we can search the whole earth and only find a handful, of righteous men, and I ain’t talking kings of nations, I’m talking heads of households, fathers who are patient, the sacrificial husband who leads his wife in a loving way and as the head knowing he’s responsible in every way, wakes up and dies, plans his funeral…” will be heartening to many: “Tell them young boys that we all in!”
The gospel is presented in no unclear terms on the worshipful ‘Arena’ and for many this might just be that reminder they need that they have been saved by the blood of a King and that they are to live in the light of His glory, that they are to truly embrace and accept that they are in Him, that they are changed already and that they need to live that change – Jesus has done the work for them. The album wraps up with the stirring ‘King In Me’ as if to say, as Jesus often did after healing, “Get up! Sin no more! Go in peace! Tell how much God has done for you! Live it!”
A well-crafted, superbly considered album with something for everyone on board – definitely one to grab.