Friday, September 24, 2010
Review- Entermission Dj Official
There’s a culture that’s been alive for thirty something years, a culture that refuses to be defined geographically, a culture that is probably more influential on a lot of societies than their collective governments, a culture you can either love or hate but it will grow and survive regardless of your feelings. This culture I’m referring to is what we know as and call Hip hop. As with every other culture hip hop has its signature elements, take for instance it’s aka emcees or rappers, it’s language or hip hop slang/lingo, it’s traditional dance or b-boying (yes, all ye jabbawockees and soulQuest fans and the like, hip hop was here first), it’s art or graffiti (which nowadays is deemed illegal in most places). Hip hop even has its own dress code, its own rules for behaviour, but unlike every other culture there is one important element that I haven’t yet mentioned, an element that was there at the beginning and despite its importance seems to be ignored, it’s the element known as deejaying!! Yes! The deejay, he/she who is responsible for the music, he/she that dictates the pace, he/she whom all others in hip hop pay respect to.
The hip hop culture was lost for a long time in a fallen state, it was in turmoil, chaos, shapeless and void (reminds one of Genesis 1). Well Christ came and redeemed it and today we have the gift of Christian hip hop and by extension Christian rap music. We have a culture that has been evangelized to and is saved even though certain brothers and sisters of this culture choose to be stubborn…
Before I get carried away, this is a review on a veteran (and saved) DJ’s project; Dj Official’s Entermission. One of the most anticipated albums in Christian music ever!! We first heard about this album when Dj Official gave an interview on the Reach Records website shortly after the DWYL (Don’t Waste Your Life) tour. He told us he was working on his debut album and that the concept was basically Missions, something we all agree hip hop music needs. What is Missions? The intro gives us a clue “Enter the Mission” with Dr Eric Mason, pastor/co-founder of Epiphany Fellowship tells us “the Christian by identity is a missionary we don’t just do missions. Missions are not just trips to certain destinations, it’s who we are, and its God’s call on our lives to go into the world based on the Great Commission…” (Matthew 28:19). Now carry that and spread it across 18 tracks and what you have is a banger sizzling with God’s mandate and over 20 passionate cats spitting lines to put across the point.
This album was released on Boxing Day 2009, ending the year 2009 and kicking off 2010 with old and new rappers respectively. It has everybody worth noticing as far as Christian rap is concerned on it and of course they are all spitting one message, the call to missions. After the excellent hard hitting R-swift intro we have the first single off the album which I’m scared to say was not the best1 it’s Lecrae and Flame on the song “Show Off” meant to urge the listener “show off” God’s glory in every nook and cranny of the globe. From here on out we have a diverse mix of songs from the hardcore/streetwise “Streets of New York” and “Streets of Philadelphia” to the “different” sounding “Love Fallen” that had Brits Jahaziel and Gems and the reggae “specialist” Benjah. Of course there are the mandatory 116 Clique jams with Trip Lee’s southern delivery dripping all over “Get Busy”, Sho Baraka narrating a few stories on “Chaos” and Tedashii holding his own on “Use Me” and later on alongside newcomers H.G.A. on one of the standout songs on the album, “Go” a jam that’ll blow you away thanks to the staccato like delivery (reminiscent of T-Bone or Dwayne Tryumf on the 777 intro). Other cool collaborations include Thisl, K-Drama, Json and Tedashii (again) on “Chisel Me”, an earnest prayer to God to hone us into fitting instruments for His mission and of course a remix from Trip Lee’s 20/20 album, “Eyes Open Remix” with Sho Baraka.
Now for me the best songs on the album were not from the “usual suspects” (Lecrae et al) they were from the cats that’ve made “Lyrical Theology” the awesome phenomenon it is today. Enter Christian rap pioneer and stalwart Phanatik alongside Lampmode Records emcees Evangel and Stephen the Levite on the very deep “Not My Own”. If Entermission had a title track this would be it! With each emcee on point with their lyrical prowess, they take things a notch higher by laying on us some serious theology telling us about the ‘Proto Evangelion’ or the first evangelic mission all the way back in the garden of Eden and how that has been replicated over and over till present times. Phanatik aptly sums it up with his bars saying “let’s slay a man to save a man…/then send the lamb down through the man’s family line...” this song is a classic, reminiscent of the early Cross Movement days (biblical truths conveyed and Christ glorified). The other outstanding jam is the song “Missio Dei” (or God’s Mission) with the relatively unknown God’s Servant spitting a DIY manual for missions; it just effectively sums the concept of the whole album. Like I said earlier on, this is just top notch Lyrical Theology.
Now are there any minuses on this project? Well for me it is the problem of adequately balancing both style and /or content. A lot of the songs (especially from the 116 guys) had an excessive ration of style which just kept distracting you from the message they were trying to pass across as opposed to some others which were just plain by way of the message embedded within. Of course people must be able to like what is being said on these songs but we need to be careful to ensure we are not just bumping heads and not convicting hearts with our music. Plus the r n’ b songs on the album “Nothing Without You” by J.R and Cam’s “Forward Me” felt a little out of place and much too conventional, nothing you would remember in three or six months time. That being said Entermission is a more than decent album overall, reminding us how important the deejay is to the hip hop culture and how important Missions is to the Christian culture. By the way, watch out for the delightful instrumental outros after a few of the songs are over and even the one instrumental track “For My Breakers” which is a wonderful tribute to the hip hop culture… in 2010 we expect a lot of things but one thing that has come and must stay mandatory for every one of us Christians is our “entering the mission”……