Resetting the Culture One Track at a Time Posted April 13, 2021 By JoshuaGalla_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need To Know Celebrating basically two decades involved in Christian Hip-Hop, Propaganda has nearly perfected the art of spoken word, poetry, and rap. In 2003, he collaborated with underground group Tunnel Rats, while beginning his own solo career with his debut album, Out of Knowhere.
Propaganda’s upbringing began in a Latino-dominated community in Los Angeles, followed by a low-income African American suburb (he was exposed to beautiful cultures from childhood). With his mother’s activist background, personal educational excellence, diverse cultural impacts, and life experiences, Propaganda has grown into a well-seasoned artist, emcee, and learner who can convey his message and sound through artistic mediums like poetry and music.
Propaganda presents to us one of his strongest works, to date—even in its shortened EP form. It’s definitely quality over quantity with his new Terraform: The People EP. He offers the idea of a cultural reset needed nationwide geared towards embracing America’s unique and numerous cultures, as opposed to berating individuals and mocking cultural differences often. To me, it says, "God made beautiful people worldwide who have gathered in our own borders."
What it Sounds Like
On the EP, On-air DJ Mal-Ski, from 102.3 KJLH, on Los Angeles radio, collaborated with Propaganda, thus adding a unique sound and flavor to the artwork. Also, Propoganda tagged some of the Christian music industry heavyweights—that is, Lecrae, Swoope, and V. Rose—to join him throughout this journey. Overall, the sound is a refreshing escape from what typical Cristian hip-hop singles have offered in 2021.
Between infectious handclaps and keys, Propoganda’s domineering delivery, echoing sounds of people gathered, and driving snares give listeners a different flavor. It’s not your typical trap sound. It’s not completely boom bap either. It’s a mixture of sonically pleasing instrumentation, highlighting how cultures express themselves musically.
“We Were Only 10” takes me back to the mid-’90s when storytelling rhyming was in its prime. “We All In,” featuring Lecrae, brings the idea of universal community to the forefront. It reminds us how beautiful culture can be defined when experienced firsthand.
“We No Entiende,” featuring Swoope, reminds us social injustice and police brutality aren’t concealed to “flavors of the month” for news sources. It’s a daily occurrence and needs to be broadcasted often, enabling the masses to never forget.
Propaganda wraps up with “Let the Credits Roll,” reminding us how important it is to appreciate the family and people who came before us and the roles they played in influencing lives of our own.
As mentioned, the recurring tone of a refreshing sound enters my mind when thinking about the overall content and soundscape. Each track stands out and could potentially shine on its own. Yet, collectively speaking, each track compliments the other quite remarkably. Again, quality trumps quantity with this EP, as it represents nearly 22 minutes of inner dialogue with self. A gut check. An introspection of emotions and thoughts against our actions and words.
Propaganda may not be known for his “JPMs” (Jesus per minute) on these tracks, however, his deeply-rooted faith can be found throughout this EP; in fact, his faith can be found on every one of his collections. He speaks more towards the actions and words of believers—or lack thereof—and exposes systematic injustice globally (this includes the church). Propaganda offers artistic solutions to situations that plague individuals on a daily basis—especially those of color.
Best Song on the Record
Collectively, Terraform: The People will sit in my personal rotation for weeks to follow. However, one standout track is “We All In,” which features Lecrae. The soundscape throughout the song is near perfection. The themes of community, culture, and unity accented on the project are pinpointed on this particular track.
One unique aspect driving the entire vibe is the heartbeat-like sound pulsating until the end, again relevant to that of what keeps communities alive—the lifeline of its people. As a long-time fan of Lecrae, this song speaks volumes that I find this feature to be one of his strongest to date.
Steady in the pocket, rhyme schemes well-defined, and a memorable flow. Of course, Propaganda did his thing. He offers some of the best examples of creative wordplay while remaining confident in the delivery. I can definitely see this track performing well—even if Lecrae’s verse is absent. The song reminds me of someone speaking out in front of a crowd, primed to jump at any opportunity to move forward for the culture.
I’ll echo the sentiment once again—quality over quantity. Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of the shortened EP form of music artistry, as the complete story is usually unfinished. However, Terraform: The People presents itself as the opposite. A complete work.
Propaganda reveals his motive from start to finish, while walking it out sonically. The rapper reminds me of a street version of contemporary Christian singer Kirk Franklin. Orchestrating soundtracks for the people moving individuals into a call for action; driven by transparent bars, personal experiences, and a heart for the Lord.
I admire Propoganda's confidence. He's unafraid to speak on issues of the people and for the people. He's for moving agendas forward towards solutions. A front runner. The purpose is imprinted in everything Propoganda touches. This is one appeal I’ve always been drawn towards—regardless of the album title. Propaganda, once again, outdid himself with this one. A must listen.
Stream Terraform: The People on Spotify or purchase the EP on iTunes.