“The Expository Journey” by Evangel

expository-journey

Yet I offer these hoops I was hurled through
My metamorphoses that changed my truth and my worldview

This, the first in a few music reviews and recommendations I will be writing, is about one of the sharpest and smartest rappers that I know of in hip-hop. The quote above is from his opening song, and sets out what he is offering on the album: an account of his own struggles with Christianity, the shifting in his thinking as he investigated further, and the changes that occurred in his life as he turned to Christ (his metamorphoses).

It is difficult to pick higlights out of what really is one big story, but I will have a go. “L.A.W.” is an explanation of man’s guilt in the sight of God (by not Living Acknowledging [His] Worthiness – L.A.W.), and is a helpful approach on a very important subject. “H.O.O.P.S” is one of my two favourite songs on the album, in which Evangel has been taken to an evangelistic sports tournament by his Christian friend (played by Israel Felix) where a pastor is giving a talk (played by Shai Linne – what a treat!). The song moves between the pastors talk, Evangel’s objections and his friend’s prayers seamlessly, and is a big encouragement in the power of evangelistic talks and of praying for friends. The following track, “Crossroads”, combines a haunting and dramatic instrumental to the internal battle of Evangel as he faces up to the truths of the Gospel and realises he needs to make a response. Three tracks later, “New Life” celebrates the joy of 2 Corinthians 5:17 – being a new creation in Christ Jesus.

I can sum up my recommendation of this album in one word: freshness. I have heard too many Christian rappers speaking out cliches (I’m guilty of this myself when I get lazy), whereas Evangel is brutally honest and is not scared to tackle difficult subjects. His instrumentals are well produced and musically excellent, but never threaten to take the focus off the truths he is rapping. The quality of lyricism is constantly high, and he manages to combine excellent wordplay (“please stop the bull like a matador”) with exposition of biblical truth (such as pointing out in “A Good Thing” that man being without woman was the first time God called something “not good”). Like in my earlier feature on Shai Linne, the highest compliment I can give Evangel is to say that I have seen more of God’s truth through his music.

Find out more about Evangel and listen to his tracks here – http://www.myspace.com/evangel33

You can pick up the album on iTunes & Amazon MP3, or if you are in the USA then at http://www.merchline.com/lampmode/productdisplay.7337.p.htm

Grace and peace to you all,

-Stephen

Lyrical Theology, part 1

Greetings all!

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself: I’m Stephen, also known as the centurion (my rapping alias). I hope to make a regular contribution to this exciting new blog in opening readers up to areas of Christian creativity that they haven’t come across elsewhere. My particular interests are in Christ-centred hip-hop, preaching and books, and these are the areas I hope to cover in my posts.

…Right now, my focus is the Man who took the three nails

Two through His wrists, One through His feet

The wrath of God satisfied, the work of the Son is complete

– shai linne, The Solus Christus Project

I would like to introduce you today to an area of current Christian creative expression that you may be tempted to turn away from without a second thought simply because you haven’t liked hip-hop music that you’ve heard in the past. shai linne, the artist who wrote the line above is one of the best examples of a quickly-evolving field of God-glorifying, scripture-heavy, well produced and basically fantastic Christian hip-hop that I think can be appreciated by any person who is hungry to see more of God, whether or not they like hip-hop.

Much of modern day Christian music is very simple, and tends to focus on a small list of topics: thanking God for forgiveness, overcoming difficult times, praising God for His love and creation and other important topics – key themes, but a fairly small list. In contrast, just on the forementioned album Solus Christus Project you will hear “Angelz” – a three way conversation between shai, a demon and an angel discussing the justness of God in election; “Dark Night of the Soul” – an anguished cry in which the rapper laments his own sinfulness; and “Justified” – a lyrical verse by verse exposition of Romans chapter 3. Not only is it theologically profound, but musically accomplished and a real joy to listen to shai’s wordplay (“Crime rate – evidence of our depraved mindset; ‘cos sin got us hypnotised like chlorohydrate. Grimy associates, high off of opiates procreate within a kaleidoscope of hate”). This is the sort of album you can listen to ten times or more, and get something new from it each time. I can honestly say that I have seen more of God through listening to this album – probably the highest accolade I could give to it!

Whether you are a seasoned hip-hop head, or someone who runs at the thought of words without a tune, I cannot recommend this album highly enough to you. Get it off iTunes or http://www.spiritdistribution.co.uk/acatalog/Red_Cloud_Travelling_Circus.html and listen to it through several times. Then when you’ve listened to it, get his next album (like I’m about to do) – The Atonement. To get you excited I’ve even left a video link below to one of his newer tracks. Listen closely my friends, there is much to learn here….

– Stephen