Dove Award-winning artist Group 1 Crew truly had one busy year supporting their debut album. Their songs were heard on several television programs (One Tree Hill, Run's House, The Simple Life and more), they performed for over 300,000 on the 2008 Winter Jam Tour and in the middle of it all, recorded their highly-anticipated follow-up album Ordinary Dreamers. Long-time advocates for dreaming and experiencing the plans that God has for His people, Group 1 Crew aptly address this theme in their new album. Manwell explains, "An ordinary dreamer is simply a person who has seen a glimpse of their opportunity for greatness, and has allowed the God of the universe to perfect that bleak vision of potential, into the image of His beautiful glory." Their new album showcases their signature style and sound in 14 catchy dance-like tunes.
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THREE DISTINCT BACKGROUNDS YIELD ADDITIONAL DIVERSITY| Posted September 29, 2008
More than just an idea, Ordinary Dreamers is a tag that could directly apply to Group 1 Crew members Manwell, Blanca and Pablo. Though the multi-cultural trio already found fame with its self-titled CD from 2007, this batch is designed to elevate the members’ original goals from both a musical, and even more importantly, an intensely personal perspective. In fact, Manwell will be the first to admit his troubled upbringing with the wrong crowd. Blanca isn’t afraid to air her insecurities after trying out for multiple talent competitions (including “American Idol”) and failing. Plus, Pablo’s quick to divulge his roots as a Wal-Mart cashier.
While no one’s knocking working in the retail world, the threesome hopes listeners will be ignited by a desire to reach beyond their wildest ambitions with a superb musical soundtrack to back it up. The melting pot starts simmering with the club throw down “Movin’,” merging into the vibrant acoustic soul of “Our Time& rdquo; and even dipping back to the funk-laced days of disco come “Gimme That Funk.”
As the album progresses, Group 1 Crew continues to fire on all cylinders, with the rap/R&B anchored beats on “Bring the Party to Life” sounding so hot that Kanye West could very well throw a jealousy tantrum. Though a decidedly current collection, the troupe also re-visits the ’70s on the Kool & the Gang-mirrored “Critical Emergency” and the contemporary jazz appeal of “Change.” But no matter the stylistic switch-up, the focus remains shooting for the stars and keeping Christ at the center of all callings, in spite of the negative weight of one’s previous choices or current circumstances. –Andy Argyrakis
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CCMMagazine.com. Click here to visit CCMMagazine.com today!
Group 1 Crew Delivers With Sophomore Effort| Posted September 24, 2008
My brother-in-law Chris Mercado, also known as ‘Crescendo’ on Orlando’s indie Christian hip-hop scene first introduced me to a musical acquaintance of his who he had produce some of his tracks that he had written and recorded simply named Manwell. Little did I know, the same Manwell would go on a year later to form a national hip-hop group called Group 1 Crew. When G1C started out before being signed by Fervent Records in 2006, they were simply known as Group One. The group consisted of Manwell Reyes, Pablo Villatoro and Blanca Reyes (no relation to Manwell). The group released their highly successful and Dove-award winning self-titled debut on Fervent in February of 2007. From the time of the release of their debut they have garnered radio success with such singles as “Love Is a Beautiful Thing” & “(Everybody’s Gotta) Song to Sing”. 2008 brings the release of their highly anticipated sophomore release, Ordinary Dreamers.
Let me first start off by saying that while growing up, hip-hop was not really a style of music that I was particularly fond of, unless of course you consider MC Hammer & Vanilla Ice hip-hop. That was basically the only hip-hop (or referred to as ‘rap’ back then) that I had been familiar with. After listening through to G1C’s debut and seeing them in concert a few times in the past year, it was a sound and style I had been unfamiliar with prior, to something that had a great message and probably some of the catchiest music tracks out there. Ordinary Dreamers offers a little of both. First off, for anyone who enjoyed their debut, the sophomore effort picks up where they left off. At first, the hip-hop lingo kind of went over my head but after going back and looking over it, (and having the ‘rhymes’ explained to me), I could better understand the message.
The album hits it off with the techno hip-hop track, “Movin”. My interpretation of the song is that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to keep out faith movin’, witnessing to those we come in contact with. “You don’t have to wait anymore its all yours for sure, let your faith walk it out now, walk it out now”
8-bit Nintendo chirps start out the next track that caught my attention, “Gimme That Funk”. Music is the universal language that really brings people of different diversities together. I like how the song refers to ‘the funky rhythm’ as a ‘medicine’ of sorts to those who need it. The track is definitely catchy, but its message can be discerned different ways.
One of the emotionally and heart-felt tracks on the album would be “Tonight”. The song speaks of someone who has lost someone close to them and how their relationship with God helps them through it. While the situation portrayed in the song may not be the same as one in your life, I think we relate to it or have known someone who has endured a loss. It’s important to know that our faith in Christ helps us to overcome those tough situations. I have known people who I thought have been taken too early, but I realize that God is still in control and has a purpose for everything. We just have to keep our faith and trust in Him and realize that sooner or later, everything will be alright. I like the chorus, how it refers to God’s healing of our feelings as a ‘lullaby’. “Tonight let every tear you cry and everything wrong inside, bring you to me and I will be your lullaby cause even in the hardest times you only need to realize, what you mean to me so let me be your lullaby”.
The first single from the album, “Keys to the Kingdom” has an interesting concept. The condition of today’s world often reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 4:17 when he says “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Through our relationship with Christ, we have the ‘keys’ to the kingdom. I like the wording found in the verse, where it compares a Christian who has become back-sliden, to someone who hasn’t ‘lost’ the keys, but simply ‘misplaced’ them. I like that, good analogy.
“Closer” is probably the furthest song from being hip-hop, more bordering on a praise & worship song. The song, whose message talks about having a closer relationship with the Lord, reminds me of a lot the Psalms in which David asks and desires to be closer with God. “Take my life, I need you now / Draw me closer draw me closer / I’m on my knees, I’m crying out / Draw me closer I want to be closer to You”. The song really shows off Blanca Reyes’ amazing vocal ability. There are two hip-hop female vocalists that just mesmerize me with their God-given ability, one being tobyMac’s Nirva Dorsaint-Ready and the other, Group 1 Crew’s very own, Blanca Reyes. “Closer” is probably my favorite cut on the record. Great song.
The message of “Critical Emergency” is a constant reminder of the state of our society. There are people out there caught up in addictions, addictions that are impossible to overcome without God’s help. If only the world would turn to God, things would be better. But, the Lord has given us free-will to make our own choices, lead our own lives without Him if we so choose. It’s the condition of our world that would be categorized in other words, a critical emergency. A critical need for God to intervene. It’s only going to be able to continue for so much more time, and then it will all come to an end. As Christians we need to help those who have fallen, show them the way and show them that they need not to continue in their sinful ways. There is a God who is there for them, a God who loved them enough to send His very best to bring us closer to Him. The song is right, we’re in a critical emergency situation and we need the Lord’s ambulance (Jesus) to come and save us before its too late.
I’ll be honest with you. While I wasn’t sure at first at how I would like the album, I have to say that I enjoyed Ordinary Dreamers. I’m not that used to the style of music (hip-hop) and I had to really pay attention to what the album’s message was saying, through it’s hip-hop lingo. But, although it may be worded differently then a traditionally CCM album, I can assure you the message was there. I was impressed with the writing and overall talent that this group brings forth. In the times I have seen them while they’re on tour; it’s very evident as to what these guys (and girl) are all about. Although Ordinary Dreamers may be different then what you’re used to, it’s got a good message and probably some of the catchiest music tracks out there. I enjoyed it and would recommend at the very least taking a listen to what Group 1 Crew has to offer and decide for yourself.
This group is blessed with the talent, and Ordinary Dreamers portrays that talent without compromising what they’ve set out to do and that’s to win people to Christ with their encouraging messages and stories. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle for that message is hip-hop, rock or pop, G1C delivers in its sophomore effort. Good job.
Review written by: Jay Heilman (9/15/08)
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from ChristianMusicReview.org. Click here to visit ChristianMusicReview.org today!
Give the Keys over the Group 1 Crew| Posted September 21, 2008
Group 1 Crew emerged quickly and was far from quite as they quickly bagged a hit single with “everybody’s got a song to sing”. Then they bagged a Dove award. Although the bio of their new CD contains their ‘long time message’ of being dreamers, Group One Crew has taken steered the theme of their latest CD toward that message which is the inspiration of the bands sophomore project title, Ordinary Dreamers.
But their isn’t too much ordinary about Manwell and Blanca Reyes and Pablo Villatoro music and message. Sure they have similarities to other artists in their genre like tobyMac and Manafest but the electronic twist on the rock fused hip hop is very refreshing. The first single “Keys to the Kingdom” is a terrific blend or rock and rap, from the smart piano intro, to the great background music and vocals which does a great job of making the song very intense. “Key’s to the Kingdom” is the peak of the bands rock/rap, but it does show up on “movin”, a good rap song with a style most reminiscent of tobyMac but even with Blanca clever background vocals the beat is a little too repetitive. Though unlike tobyMac who has to keep introducing new ladies to do bits in his music, Blanca does a fine job when she is driving a song and she is here to stay. She does a fantastic job on the light hip hop track “closer”, which is a very smooth song except for the ending which feels out of place.
“I see you” and likewise “change” is a very enjoyable, catchy upbeat hip hop song. Despite some of Group 1 Crew’s ingenuity there are times there things just don’t sit quite right like "Critical Emergency (What's Going On?)" which is oddly an upbeat song considering it’s urgent title. “icontact” delivers some crisp rap but it suffers from an all to repetitive beat, “Live Out Loud” also serves up some solid rap only to fall short in the area in a really simple tune and towards the end of a 14 track album the sound starts sounding less diverse. However as a whole the album is diverse and other positives are “Gimme That Funk”, “tonight” and “lullaby”.
One thing Christian rappers and hip hop artists do very well is relate biblical truths in a very impressive way, and Group 1 Crew does that but Ordinary Dreamers is troubled by mixing messages, packing too much into a song and just losing a theme of a song when it’s unnecessary. “Bring The Party to Life” is only one example where Christ is mentioned but the meaning of the song is lost among a bundle of lyrics. Aside from that the band offers many positive and key messages. “Keys to the kingdom” is a wonderful song lyrically and “closer” is basically complex worship song desiring a more intimate relationship with God (‘I’m on my knees, I’m crying out/Draw me closer I want to be closer to you’).
"Critical Emergency (What's Going On?)" spends most of it’s time pondering the tragedies in our day and in the end asks God for the solution (‘Father show us how to love/There’s a world that needs your touch/Lead us to the river of new life’). Other themes include living for Christ in the way we act (“Live Out Loud”), changing for the better (‘change”) and sensing God in everyday life and realizing his promise to never leave or forsake (“I see you”). “Movin’s” theme is difficult to understand but it does offer tidbits like ‘you don’t have to wait anymore I can hear him calling, step through the door, where anything is possible’ and in” gimmie that funk” it state: ‘Got ‘this feelin that I can’t ignore, you gave me more than I was asking for, and now I owe you my life, I could never deny you inspire what comes outta this mic’.
Group 1 Crew’s attitude towards God gets a little lovey dovey in a couple of places but the plain, and refreshing thing is the respectful and obedient way they treat God in their lyrics. Throw in their clever and up beat hip hop tunes and you have a well balanced out album which doesn’t at all fit into the ‘sophomore slump’. Ordinary Dreamers is a step in the right direction in their career of putting out easily accessible music to those who may not be a fan of the hip hop genre.
LOVE IT!!!| Posted December 05, 2010
ok 1st off, keys to the kingdom is BRUTE GENIUS
i so wish you guys had a video to it lol
when i heard it at dare2share i was about to hop on my seat and start belting out!!!
my g.o.l.d. group wants to dance to this one day & our leader listened to part of the chorus and she was already hooked C3!!
great album| Posted October 09, 2010
i've owned this album for a good while now but never reviewed it on here. this is an album that i listen to when i am down in the sumps. it gets me up and moving and lightens my mood. i just can't be still when i am listening to it. i really like it.
AMAZING| Posted May 28, 2010
this cd is AMAZING. perfect blend of so many genres. There's deep stuff, and there's fun stuff. It's almost the best thing ever.. apart from the song I Had a Dream,, every song on here is catchy and fun... iTS HOTT
Ordinary Dreamers| Posted January 27, 2010
I love Ordinary Dreamers. This is Group 1 Crew's best album in my opinion. They did a great job on picking songs to record and they did a great job performing them. I also like the title of the album. Keys to the Kingdom and Movin are my two favorite songs from this album. You rock Group 1 Crew!
The Best Yet| Posted January 25, 2010
This is a great cd that blends straight rap with smooth vocals and a great message: we are all ordinary dreamers. And, with God's help and guidance, we can see those dreams come true.
Ordinary Dreamers| Posted January 05, 2010
Ordinary Dreamers by Group 1 Crew is like the best hip-hop c-d you can get that has good lyrics as well. Not only are the lyrics good but the tunes are catchy. You need some tunes for a party? grab this c-d at your local book store and you'll be set!