This album intends to hold in tension the harsh realities of Alex and Dre's cultural realities—from upbringing to modern day—while purposely shining the light on Jesus in the darkness. This does not mean that each song will be a sermon, nor does it mean that each song on the album is trying to hide Jesus either, but rather like John Piper said, "stay in step with the gospel," even if you don't hear it explicitly in each song. There is a tension, but this album is "in step with the gospel." The album is meant to be heard in one listen, though there are stand alone songs.
Be it the politically charged song Wake Up Music; the hard-hitting intro, Overexposed; to City of Nightmares II, you will hear southern beats, flow, warm mixing and mastering, production from Wit and Swoope––on I-285 and I-610—and an album that glorifies Jesus. Arguably one of our best project yet, or as Alex says, "the best project that I have put out having finally found my voice."
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Expect Real on This Collaboration| Posted May 12, 2015
Alex Faith has the Atlanta grittiness while Dre Murray brings the heat from the third coast of Houston, Texas. Both together and separately, these brothers have raised the bar in CHH with solo albums and as part of the collective W.L.A.K. So to have these guys together for the Southern Lights: Overexposed album is a perfect fit, and this album lives up to the hype.
The ills of life in their respective cities is presented on this album in typical Dre and Alex fashion. If you are going to listen to an album featuring Dre Murray, then you know to listen several times because you will uncover layers of the message with every listen.
"I-285" is as dope lyrically as it is musically. Topped with piano and synthesizer over a nice beat courtesy of real drums, Alex spits from the perspective of someone who is as proud of the city of Atlanta as anyone, but ends it by explaining how he uses Hip Hop to make Jesus known. While this one stands out, the Hip Hop fan in me wants to takes points away from Alex for saying that he had never heard of De La Soul until he was 19!
Dre reps his city via "I-610," using the same beat as Alex's ode. As a Houston area native, I felt very at home as he mentions the street names and restaurants on the south side of Houston. However, this dude is quick-witted, using metaphors and personification to paint a vivid picture of an empty life of thrilling seeking on the south side.
"Fake" and "irrelevant" are two words that will never describe Dre and Alex. They are either presenting things they have experienced or seen. They use this project to present a visual album, possibly the first in CHH. This is great news because "Money," featuring Reconcile, needed a visual. The placement of Reconcile on this one works like gold and does not feel like a forced collaboration.
I was initially amped and excited about Tragic Hero being featured on "All Around the World," but I was a little disappointed because Tragic is on the hook that sounds too much like every other trap song currently on the radio. He chants in oversaturated staccato. That is really the only downside of this album.
Race relations and tensions have been a deep and even controversial topics both inside and outside of the church setting. Artists like This'l, Lecrae and Propaganda have been accused (at separate times) of race baiting, while they have also garnered support. Pastors like Matt Chandler have led the charge for racial reconciliation. Dre and Alex do not shy away from the topic one bit. On "Wake Up Music," Dre hits up the black on black crime, while Alex hits at those who are white who turn a blind eye to crimes against black people. Then Swoope expresses his skepticism regarding deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police.
You will not be let down by Southern Lights: Overexposed. The album is very southern but also holds strong lyricism, which is a combination that some believe is lacking in the south. They take you on a journey of real life struggles and experiences and lead you back to the cross ("Forever"). This is not done in a corny way that seems predictable and contrived. These dudes are real.