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Friday, October 1, 2010

Japhia Life Nazareth Review

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I’d like you to have a brief flashback to the period between the mid and late 90s (probably the early 2000s too). The period just before hip hop’s demise; reflect on all the “good” music we had back then before this crunk ‘monster” descended on us all… nostalgic isn’t it? Now snap out of it as fast as possible! Reality check, the year is 2010 and as you read this you’ve probably reached a stage in life where you think that singing in an alien voice is a normal thing, or that skinny jeans that sag to the knees is as ok a practice as brushing one’s teeth. Yes, my brothers and sisters there’s trouble and chances of rescue are a measly 1 out of 10. Even though my mood suggests it, I’m not here to just lament the sorry state of things. This is a review for a true hip hop album from Japhia Life, Nazareth.
Japhia Life, Philly native who I can’t say I’ve heard much from save on J-Silas’s (now J-Johnson) album Soundproof and on DJ Morph’s International. I’ll confess to being one of the few that believes that outside the “big 3” (Lampmode, Reach and Cross Movement) very few Christians can rap. It’s safe to say guys like Braille, theBreax and Eric Cross have consistently proved me wrong. Japhia is another one of those “exceptions to the rule” sporting that effortless Philly style, over beats with conscious/underground appeal and he serves up Nazareth an album you can’t afford to sleep on. With such a good name for an album he lives up to (and goes beyond if I might add) expectation with this 14 tracker. It’s just like I said, a nostalgic, sober album that tackles a lot of real issues from gun crime to the everyday dilemma of looking for answers in our respective lives. One thing that is endearing about this album is Japhia’s calm flow which allows you to hear what he says as he takes you on a journey to show you that something good can come out of Nazareth (and even Philadelphia).
Standout songs include “Don’t Keep Me Waiting”, “I Wanna Go”, “Mama’s House” and a personal favourite “Does Anybody Know?” a very deep song… “Moment In Time” and “One Shot” are notable mentions too. Production wise there’s a sort of Jekyll/Hyde effect with some of the beats being really awesome (“Does Anybody Know?”, “One Shot” and “Don’t Keep Me Waiting”) and some of the other beats sounding too synthesized and generic. One producer that people shouldn’t sleep on though is this Chris Batson guy who was behind the “Does Anybody Know” track; he’s got these awesome drum loops that just complement Japhia’s style and delivery. Wit from Frontlynaz helped out with “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” and impressively too.
In conclusion Nazareth is one decent piece of art that may not be on everyone’s playlist but is a solid effort nonetheless. It gets a 3.5 from me, the type of album to give to the wounded few (like me) who pine away for the “good old days”.
P.S. Check out the album art, beautiful stuff man!!!

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