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5 stars - A new bar has been set
Posted May 28, 2012
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer


Growing Pains from Json is an intricate album that touches on the growth of people as they move through the seasons of life. Json’s style has morphed somewhat from his harder style to something with more flow and increased musicality.
The first track on the album is titled “Making Me Over” and features a sick hook sung by AD3 and some added vocals by Tedashii. The song is about how God changes a man from a materialistic life to one based on grace and faith.
Next up is the track is 2 Human featuring Lecrae which speaks of how rappers are more than artists, that they are husbands, fathers and that though they serve us as consumers with their music and ministry that they too need our prayers and support and we shouldn’t judge what’s going on with them since we don’t know what’s truly is happening in their lives.
We follow this theme of the humanness of the artist in the following interlude in which Json speaks of his close relationship with his wife and the next track “Held it Down.” This song is an open letter from man to wife speaking of their troubles and Butta P. comes in on the 2nd verse as the rebuttal from the wife. The final verse ties it all together as God speaks and it relates the marriage covenant to the relationship of God and His bride. The central theme is trust in God, because He has always Held it Down.
Moving on from God holding things down for us is what may be the best track on the album. It’s Alright features a chorus sung by Mikeschair and speaks of how God sees and knows our needs and that we just need to get to our knees in prayer to work through whatever our struggles are. An interesting fact is that Json originally tried to get Shane & Shane to sing the chorus, nothing is lost with Mikeschair covering it off with beautiful harmonies.
Next up is “I the Beast.” This is about pride and how we need to throw up our hands in surrender and let God do the work he started. “If you just want the light to shine and expose what you’re trying to hide, get your hands up.”
The theme of growth and redemption continues with Brand New featuring God’s Servant and Steve-T. This is a testimony of how we are new in Christ, old man is dead and the new man is reborn in Christ.
Next up is My Joy featuring the vocal stylings of Jai. This song is a true confession of faith in Christ and how He is who not only brings us joy but is our joy. It is a deeply touching track that will speak deeply to every listener.
Chris Lee Cobbins joins the all star party on this album on the next track “Behind the Clouds” adding a slick R&B vibe to a song that reminds us that the sun is always shining behind the clouds. Your circumstances do not dictate God’s love for you, but God’s love for you will dictate your circumstances if you just remember that “even when rain is falling down, God shines behind the clouds.”
And now that you remember that God is control and is behind the clouds, we are reminded that no matter what comes our way “We Not Folding.” This track is a true banger and features Trubble & Black Knight. This one is an anthem that you can crank and scream out that you’re not folding.
After you are completely pumped that no one can beat you, “Secrets” will bring you back to reality and rip out your heart. This song is about sexual abuse and is the testimony of a friend of Json’s. How the secrets she had to keep led her to a life a sexual promiscuity and lies, but she came to know Christ and knew she had to forgive her abuser because of the forgiveness that Christ showed her. If you don’t get weepy eyed during this track you should check yourself. On a musical side, J.R. adds smooth vocals to the hook, and his distinct style really brings out the emotion of the situation.
Next up is Credits Roll featuring Benjah on the hook. This song is about forgetting your past and accepting the future that Christ has given you. Let the credits roll on your past mistakes and sins.
The next track “Goodbye” is about saying farewell to one season in life and accepting the new challenge. It is a farewell to St. Louis and accepting the new ministry that God has given Json in Iowa City. Anyone who has gone through a change like leaving a school or a city you loved will find comfort in Json’s testimony in this song.
Last up is another track featuring J.R. with his distinctly smooth vocals. This is a song about the pain a child feels when their parent is missing a lot. There is a critical need for parents to be parents to their children these days and not just working hard. Kids want their parents’ presence, not just their presents.
From top to bottom this album is solid. It is the most deeply touching hip hop album I have ever listened to and each time I listen to it I hear something new. I will boldly declare that this is the best Hip Hop/Urban album of the year and every other album released this year will be compared against this. The production is solid, the theme is consistent and the songs take you places that a hip-hop album has never you taken you before. I have never listened to such a consistent piece of art. This ranks a 5/5 stars.

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