KMB Has Much to Share
Posted October 31, 2014
By MarcusHathcock_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Kevin Michael Bauman used to be known as "Bau Down." That was, until God got ahold of him and opened his eyes and mind to the world of faith-fueled hip-hop. Leaving behind his old ways and former lyrical choices, Kevin has had a Saul-to-Paul conversion of sorts as a rapper, and now goes by his initials, KMB.
The result of these life changes and creative influences comes as a firehose of new content from the rapper in the form of the 24-track album, God's Plan (Deluxe Edition). In this record, KMB maintains the old-school, '90s-era flow of his past with plenty of bold, in-your-faith lyrics.
While 24 tracks, of course is a bit long (and could've been spread out over time), from a ministry standpoint, it's easy to see why he felt the need to get all this out there. It's a new chapter for KMB four years in the making, and he's eager to share. It's just impossible, though, for all two-dozen tracks to be memorable.
Chances are, every listener will find their own favorites in the mix--there certainly is a buffet of choices--but for me, "My God Is The Illest," "Music On A Mission" and "Pride" are three standout tracks.
"My God Is The Illest" is an aggressive, almost Eminem-like tribute to the greatness of the Lord. It's a tad repetitive, but makes it one of the easiest tunes with which to sing along. Going along with the same theme of vowing to "let the world know" about God's awesomeness is the chilled out "Music On A Mission." Almost like a theme song for KMB, he flexes between singing and rapping, providing an interesting juxtaposition between a smooth R&B feel and passionate, punchy verse.
"Pride" is a swaggeriffic, sports pump-up song that repeats, "This is our house / What we gonna do / This is our house, winning's what we do / It's game time." It's a hard-hitting song that transcends just the sports references, also working for the Church when talks about going hard and having one another's backs. It's a great workout song, and my only complaint is that the "gang vocals" (I think it's KMB quadrupled) could be a little louder for a good punch.
I like the potential of the title track and lead single "God's Plan." It's a tobyMac-style story-song with KMB asking God to "take my heart and make it new," eschewing his own will in favor of God's plan. It's not a bad song, that would be better served by some stronger hook vocals.
Truth be told, KMB tries his hand at singing a few times, and it's not he's bad at it; he's just so much stronger as a spoken word/rapper type that it stands out. He should stick to rapping and find some powerhouse vocalists (and/or high-powered samples) to fuel his hooks.
With God's Plan, at the end of the day, if you're comparing KMB to contemporaries at the top of modern Christian hip-hop, there will certainly be a mismatch, as KMB's style harkens back to the LL Cool J style of chilled out flow.
Instead, it's kind of a beauty to behold when someone naturally recreates a form of art that otherwise has all but gone extinct. What's enjoyable about KMB is his ability to just be himself. You have to right your expectations going into it to truly enjoy it.
With this Deluxe Edition, the tracks are pretty bloated, and the majority of them clock in past four minutes--a death knell for radio play--and about half of them are timed at more than five-and-a-half minutes. It's clear that in future projects, KMB has to learn to tighten things up, because in communication, if you say too much, the message gets lost.
There are some good hard-hitting moments, some awkward ones, and some tender ones--the markings of a first album of a new (or remade) artist. KMB offers a uniqueness that isn't seen in Christian hip-hop today--an important style that stands on its own. Now it's time to hone what works and trim out the excess. There's promise there, and we look forward to hearing where the story goes from here.
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