Real Life Rapped
Posted November 18, 2013
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Two and a half years after the release of his Still Livin' Mixtape, London, U.K.-based Jahaziel releases his first album. Heads Up is Jahaziel's first project on Xist Records and is a project that is delivered from the heart with as much passion for his community as we saw from Alex Faith on ATLast, and as much zeal for the Word of God as we saw from shai linne on Lyrical Theology Part One. The album contains the type of wordplay we are used to from artists like KB and Andy Mineo and bangin' beats like we usually hear from This'l.
The first track, "I Said Yeah," pays homage to Jahaziel's Jamaican bloodline with its reggae/dancehall feel. The song is a testimony of God's goodness to Jahaziel and how happy he is that he said yes to God and he suggests "that you do say yes to Him, on the cross He said yes to you." The song immediately draws you in through it's lyrics and overall vibe.
"Amen" goes off crazy hard. Once the drop hits, so will your fists, you cannot help but to bounce to this one. Jahaziel's word play on this one is just this side of incredible. However, underneath the crazy beats and the incredible lyricism, there is a purely Gospel centered message and a worship anthem that proclaims, "Amen, He's God, Amen, He's good, I'm a keep on yellin' ‘til it's understood."
The truth on the album continues to be revealed on "Famous." The song is about moving from worshiping fame to worshiping the Famous One. Also included on this song is one of the best 80's pop culture references I have heard - "See how I was a robot / Now I'm alive / He short circuited my sin / man, I'm Johnny 5." There will be listeners who won't get that reference just purely based on age, but for those of us that remember that piece of '80s cheddar, it will make us smile as much as, "When that bell sounds / I'm Rocky Balboa in the 12th round / I black out when I'm in the zone / I tag team team / I don't fight alone / This Rock is my protector / Not Sylvester / but Christ alone / The judge we dread / gave first blood as the ram, bro / took that bullet to head / instead of demolition man."
In same vain, "V.O.H." is about identity in Christ. Jahaziel takes on one of the most talked about issues in Christian hip-hop today, "Christian rapper" versus "rapper who is Christian." The key answer is that he is a vessel of honor, he knows his calling, so call him whatever you want to. It is a debate that is growing old, this is a great response.
The first single from the album was "They Don't Know" featuring Jahaziel's uncle and reggae/dancehall superstar Maxi Priest.The song talks about the real issues of life in Jahaziel's neighborhood, and the cry in the ghettos across the globe that the people outside really don't know what is going on, nor do they really care. There is a mission field in the middle of our cities that is underserved by the gospel and left to die a slow, wretched death, until the property values get low enough to make it attractive to developers and then the people are displaced for something more beautiful like high-rise condos and 5-star restaurants.
"My Angel" is a love ballad to Jahaziel's wife. These types of tracks have almost become standard on every Christian hip-hop album. It talks about a real relationship between man and wife and not the secular worldview of relationships where they talk about the plethora of women they are with on a weekly basis.
Things get real once again on "Round and Round." The song is about addiction and all the types that exist. It talks to the nature versus nurture debate. Dealing with real-world issues such as drug addiction, homelessness, child abuse and dealing with popularity. This song's vibe is a little more chilled than the rest of the album, this serves the listener to close their eyes and reflect on the lyrics and the message.
From top to bottom this album is solid. Strong lyrics, varied sounds, high production values, and a consistent gospel message. There is are songs that testify, teach and praise. There is self reflection by Jahaziel, and moments for the listener to reflect. There is no question about the gospel being presented. The message of grace and redemption is woven throughout the album and the album finished with a song about Heaven, the place we all want to finish. This may well be one of the albums that take people by surprise this year. You have your warning. Don't sleep on this one.
Song to Download Now:
"They Don't Know (feat. Maxi Priest)" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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