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A New Gameface
Posted October 20, 2014
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer

KJ-52 has been hanging around on the down low for a while, but Mental is evidence of a strong return. Teaming up with Family Force 5's former front man Solomon Olds to create an EP filled with a new, aggressive sound, paired with some of the fun stuff that we remember KJ for, the hip hop artist offers a release that is surprisingly good and completely unexpected.

The new attitude show up immediately on "Gameface (1rst half Edition)." This hard hitting song featuring KB, Soul Glo Activatur and FLAME prepares us for something new. It is a harder, grittier KJ on the mic this time, and although the song is fun, it does not contain the tongue-in-cheek humor that we all remember as KJ's forte.

You know KJ has turned a new leaf when Propaganda and Lecrae show up on "Fight Music (I Don't Do Black or White Music)." Prop starts off the track with his signature style and then Crae gets the first verse talking about how his music was rejected by his own community, yet was welcomed by a mainly white crowd. KJ speaks of his similar struggles where he wasn't welcomed in his white community or the black community. The uniting force in it all is Christ. The music is not for a certain color, but rather is to unify the body of Christ.

Grit begets grit, and tongue-in-cheek begets tongue-in-cheek. Social Club shows up on "Island of Misfit Toys." There are few rap artists out there today who attack serious issues surrounding the broken in the church in one song and then have fun in another. KJ and Social Club make a perfect pairing. The song speaks to the truth that we are all misfits, but we are all loved by God regardless of our background.

It is a low down, dirty south party when KJ teams up with Tedashii and Soul Glo on "Mental" and then we hear something new from KJ on the first single from the album, "Tonight." This cut is an acoustic guitar driven pop song with KJ singing. It honestly sounds more like Toby Mac than KJ. It will resonate with mainstream Christian music fans, but hip hop fans may have an issue. The message behind the music is solid though as it focuses on surrendering to God. I am sure most of us have been at a Christian concert when we wondered what the purpose was. This is KJ refocusing us on the true reason for the gathering together of the saints.

After "Gameface (2nd Half Edition)" we get another pop interlude with the remix of "Brand New Day." The KJ we all know and love shows up on "Fresh Kicks." Nothing like a song about some new shoes to lighten the mood, but as always, the lighthearted surface is deepened with the truth about God and the real meaning of life and stripes that make a real difference in your life.

The album closes with a solid party tune in "It's Going Down." Who says that Christians can't party? This song is evidence that we can have fun too.

Closing Thoughts:
When I met Jesus, I had to put my old rap albums away. One of the first Christian rappers I came across after I gave my life to Christ was KJ-52. He was fun, refreshing and lighthearted (with the exception of "Daddy's Girl;" I still get misty when I hear that). This new KJ is no less about fun, but he has added an aggressive maturity to his music. He is ready to do battle. Call it Spiritual or artistic maturity if you like, I will just call it a new attitude and a new passion ignited. Grab this album. You won't regret it.

Song to Download Now:
"Fight Music (I Don't Do Black Or White)" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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