Posted March 10, 2016
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer
It is rare that an album comes along that I have been anticipating for 10 months (since the exclusive release of The Demos on TheOverflow.com in May 2015). The Glory Album from Christon Gray is exactly that. As he teased fans first with The Demos, then with the build-up to the release of which label he was signing with after leaving Collision, then with the slow build to this album, it has been a crazy ride for fans. I am happy to say that the wait, the excitement and buying the t-shirt Christon wears in the "Connor McDees" video has all been worth it.
Christon is a special talent in Christian Hip Hop. As much talent as he has in singing hooks, he has equally in spitting bars. His silky smooth voice and his incredible range combined with his lyricism and versatility on the mic makes for something special. The album opens with "The Glory, Pt. 1," a simple intro with a sweet little piano melody line overlaid with Christon's smooth neo-soul vocals and then a tidy little rap, gently easing us into what is to come.
The Christon Gray that we are not so used to shows up on the first full track of the album. "Stop Me" hits hard. The driving piano and the kick drum drive the beat forward while Christon exercises his lyrical abilities. On "Fort Knox," the versatility is shown once again. But beyond the pure talent, the artist shows his vulnerability. On several tracks on the album Christon offers deep truths regarding relationships. Whether it's a relationship with God or with his bride, Christon bares his soul on this album. "Afraid With You" and "Nowhere" are perfect examples of this: beautiful ballads where there is nothing held back, and all that can be pictured is a man emptied of himself and laying it out for the One he loves.
We move from the soulful and beautiful to the pure boom bap on "Connor McDees." The lyricism on this track is so good, you find new metaphors and double entendres on each listen. On this track Christon is joined by his brother Taelor and by Skyzoo.
Christon also doesn't shy away from the political realm with "Black Male (Blackmail)." It is a story of a mixed race couple and the struggles that go along with it. This was an incredibly powerful song for me personally. I honestly don't know if the Church is ready for this kind of truth from within its walls, but it is something that needs to be heard.
The album wraps up with the beautiful worship song "Follow You." The declaration to follow God after the heart wrenching "Black Male" is the redemption at the end of the road.
The Bottom Line: Christon Gray has crafted together an incredible piece of art that will touch each area of the soul. It rips it apart and heals it. It shows versatility and vulnerability. With The Glory Album, Christon Gray takes himself from the underground of Christian music to the front lines.
Song to Download Now:
"Connor McDees" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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