I’ve been a follower of Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s music ministry and career ever since his debut release in 2004 called Moment of Truth.  He released his sophomore effort The Faith the following year.  The Faith took Da’ T.R.U.T.H. to a level within his ministry I’m sure he himself didn’t even imagine happening so rapidly.  It led to making quite a few appearances on TBN, to going on tour with gospel greats Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary, to even winning him a Stellar Award for Best Rap/Hip Hop Gospel CD!  Most of all, I’m sure it brought many souls to the Lord and encouraged many already in “the faith.”  And here we are two years later with what Da’ T.R.U.T.H. says to be his ‘most transparent work to date.’  And believe me folks – he isn’t lying! 

Each of us is writing a book.  The question is: How does your life read?  With his third installment on the Cross Movement Records label, this is what Da’ T.R.U.T.H. wants you to take away from his latest work entitled Open Book.  So let’s flip through the pages and see what we’ll read of the life of Emanuel Lambert, Jr.! 

One thing that is very popular with albums today is the making of a unique intro that generally sets the tone for the rest of the album.  I’ve heard hundreds of them, and I can honestly tell you that after hearing one for the first time, I usually just bypass them from then on out.  Well, with an album called Open Book, wouldn’t it only be fitting that a “book” had an introduction? No matter how many times I listen to this project from start to finish (yeah, it’s one of those kind), I am always able to listen to the intro.  It was very well made and two special guests make it that more enjoyable to listen to.  I won’t spoil it for you by revealing who they are, but I HIGHLY recommend purchasing a physical copy of the album so you can read the credits and see who is who and what is what throughout the album.  Not only that, but the album art is slamming!  You can tell that each and every detail of this project was carefully and thoughtfully planned out.  Moving forward… 

Fresh off of the heels of the intro, you are taken right into one of the hottest tracks of the year, “Who Am I?” featuring Tye Tribbett and produced by J.R. of So Hot Productions. This song has an infectious go-go type beat.  I can’t say I’ve heard anything like it before.  Just to be transparent with you as a reviewer, initially when the video for this song premiered on BET’s “Lift Every Voice” (which is when the single was first introduced to the world), I wasn’t quite sure if I liked this song.  I didn’t dislike it, but it was very different for me, as are quite a few other songs on Open Book.  But now I’m grooving to it every time it plays!  The song is hot!   

I’ve heard Da’ T.R.U.T.H. say that as he listened to the song unfold in the writing process Mr. Tribbett came to his mind.  He wanted someone who could take this track to another level.  Tye did just that!  He makes the song fun to listen to without a doubt!  Though I grew to love the song, of course, I never had an issue with the message.  Not by any means.  So for the message to be there, AND it be a slamming song – that equals a hit!  The first few lines of the song sum up the whole message.  Check it: 

If the Bible was re-written and the writers put me in it I wonder how my life would read./Would the people that have heard of me—read just to learn of me—be turned away by what they see?/Or, would they slump in their sofas blown away and sober by my life then come to believe?/Or, would they do a once over read the pages of my life and once it’s over close the book and say “that’s not how I want to be?” 

The next chapter is called “Man Up” featuring John Wells – The Tonic.  You may have heard this song on Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s MySpace page already when it was up for a day or two, but in case you missed it, let me fill you in!   Another J.R. laced track, the song has a pounding bass line that you can bob your head to and bump in your trunk!  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. makes an appeal to all men who name the name of Jesus to “Man Up!”   The term “man up” contrasts with the term “man down” which is usually stated during times of adversity.  For example, when a police officer (one who serves and protects his community) is shot and wounded.  Well, when someone says “man up,” they are saying ”be strong and courageous no matter what you may face!”  Likewise, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. is admonishing all brothers in the Lord to “Man Up” and take their blood bought positions in Christ Jesus!  On the onset he tells of how his father instilled in him the values needed to actually become a “man of God.”  And so it is with us today!   We need to “man up” to be role models as well—for our churches, communities, families and more!  WE are the ones who determine whether or not the next generation will grow easily in grace, or have to fight with themselves, as well as their circumstances, to become all that God wants them to be.  Brothers, by all means—MAN UP! 

One of my favorite songs is “Feels Good” from The Ambassadors album The Thesis.  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. was featured on that song and it is a classic in my opinion!  The two re-unite once again on a bangin’ song called “Star Struck,” and they bring just as much energy (if not more) as they did before!   And—once again—DJ Official provides another heater for them to spit over!  There is a difference in my opinion this time.  On “Feels Good” you were riding with them on the clouds, gleaming on the goodness of God and how wonderful it is to be in Christ.  Yeah, we are still gleaming, but it’s a feel good song with a different twist.  THIS TIME they deliver a lyrically raw, unashamed before the world, “Jesus all day, err’day” message!  “Star Struck” isn’t necessarily addressing folks who are making idols out of so-called “stars,” but they are saying they are truly “Star Struck” by the One whom they are in awe of!  Jesus, baby!  Peep this line: 

No, He’s not common at all/ All eyes on Him/Hold your jewels, we gotta priceless gem/Who else can pay the price for sin/ Nobody, and build a whole body/Like a private gym/ Nobody, nobody but Him/He’s Superman but godly, embodied in Clark Kent/ yeah, He came to save the day/ Why would you trade Him to play/ In a crooked world that is fading away?/ Candy paint and wood grain decay, ok? 

Wow, what can I say about the next song?  Well, I can tell you that it has another featured guest!  (Only four songs don’t have anyone featured on them.)  So who is on this one?  It’s the up and coming young man named Trip Lee from Reach Records.  The song is called “Price Tag,” and I can tell you right now—THIS SONG WILL SET SOME FOLKS STRAIGHT!!!!  Wooo weee!!!!  They ain’t ready!  That’s all I can say.  And I’m mainly referring to the third verse (24 bars of just telling it how it is!!!)  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. doesn’t hold his tongue!  I know he was probably one bar from mentioning some names!!!  LOL!  I don’t even want to tell you what this song is talking about, because I don’t want to spoil everything for you, but if your imagination can anyhow build off of the title to the song, you will be going in the right direction.  I’ll say this much, some folks will find out that they need to quit their so-called “day jobs.”   The very last song on the album is called “Fig Tree,” where Da’ T.R.U.T.H. delivers a pluralized message of the gospel music industry.  These two songs are very closely related, but within “Price Tag” he addresses something in a more specific manner.  So, be sure to peep this one.  Sorry, I’m not going to lend you any lyrics for this one.  But, oh yeah, this is yet ANOTHER hot one produced by J.R.  The boy got that fire y’all!  I’m amazed at the diversity of production he brought to this album.  Yeah, he did the majority of it. 

Do you know anyone who thinks that they are just too young to serve the Lord in a way that makes a difference?  I mean, how many teenagers do you know who hold full-time ministries?  Probably none right?  But that doesn’t mean they can’t!  Why is it that youth in the secular arena can have prospering careers and do great exploits, but in the church we teach kids indirectly that “youth ministry” means pizza, skate night, and bible study?  Is that all there is for our youth in Christ? Nah man!  That’s a lie!  An “age old lie” as Da’ T.R.U.T.H. put it so eloquently.  In this next chapter of Open Book we have “13/30,” featuring Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s long-time friend Tyrone “TWyse” Smack.   I appreciate this song because it challenges young folk to start seeking to be mature in the faith.  More importantly, it challenges adults to see that adolescents and young adults can be used mightily for God à NOW!  Peep: 

At age 5, little Jewish kids with an able mind, retain all five/ Books of the Pentateuch, rain or shine/ They are trained to abide at every age stage of their lives/ So to say “I’m too young” is an age old lie/ Cause the early bird catches the worm, it’s your turn/ So you ain’t gotta live all earthly/ When you can be 13 going on 30 

Need I say more?  That’s from the second verse.  I wanted to show you something from the third verse, but that would be revealing too much!  Trust me, I really want to. J 

Since you’re going to “read” Open Book for yourself, there is no sense in me telling you about each “chapter” is there?  I didn’t think so.  Reading is fundamental, so I’ll let you do some of that for yourself.  But I do want to at least give you a summarization of just a few other songs and then I’ll give my overall thoughts on the album. 

The album has seventeen tracks, with there being an intro, outro and two interludes.  So you actually have thirteen new songs plus five bonus songs (the live performances of “Intro,” “Please,” “Our World,” “My Story,” “N.F.L. [New Found Love]” and “Legacy”) from the audio version of the Da’ T.R.U.T.H. & Friends LIVE DVD which only come as free downloads with the purchase of the CD..  Other songs are “Every Day” featuring Tia Pittman, which you’ve probably heard if you bought the Da’ T.R.U.T.H. & Friends LIVE DVD.  So many Christians—young and old—want to know what God’s will is for their lives.  This song will certainly point you in the right direction.  I love the wisdom Da’ T.R.U.T.H. imparts on this one.  A great song! 

One of my favorite songs from the album is “That Great Day” featuring Pastor Donnie McClurkin and Tye Tribbett.  This song is phenomenal!  This song shows just how far Da’ T.R.U.T.H. has come musically as an artist.  He co-produced most of the songs on this album.  (Yes, he does more than just rap.)  “That Great Day” is a song that should have every believer looking forward to the day when we will see Him face to face.  People strive for many things in life, all of it being things that will one day perish.  But we should never lose focus of Jesus though.  He is our one true reward!  Did you actually get that??? He IS our reward!!!!  There is no greater reward.  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. successfully sings this praise on “That Great Day.”  It’s refreshing to hear each time.  Pastor Donnie McClurkin was certainly the right person to have place an anointing on such a magnificent worship piece.  Oh, don’t get it twisted—THIS IS A WORSHIP PIECE!  This song will have those who truly love the Lord praising!  It makes my heart leap every time I hear it!  I would love to see a video for this song (hint).   

Check out the first few lines: 

Take my riches—take my fame

Take the microphone—take the stage

Take my glory—take my name

Take, take, take, take, take it away 

It is evident that Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s career has catapulted, and it’s encouraging to know that he recognizes in a great way that none of this is about him.  (Check out the song “Why I Do” as well.)   Tye Tribbett does an excellent job at singing the hook on “That Great Day” too!  I’m used to him being so full of liveliness that it was great to hear him in a more toned down fashion.  The song is perfect.  Ladies and gentlemen, once again, let’s thank God for the awesome production of J.R. on this one. Wow!  As well, let’s give honor to Christopher Stevens and Jeffrey Jones on the horns!  Excellent job!  Question: Is seeing Jesus’ face enough for you?  That’s enough for me! 

Every song on this album is definitely worth mentioning, but lastly I’d like to discuss one other song of beauty.  It is “Rose” featuring Lisa McClendon.  Yes, this is a beautiful song!  It’s a love ballad “stemmed” from the idea of love and covenant.  Everything that we are and have is because He rose.  We move, we breathe and we have our being because we are in Him, and anything in Him is as beautiful as a rose.  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. shares his inner thoughts about his daughter and wife, how he loves them, cherishes them, and desires for them to be all that God would have them to be.  They are his roses.  One line that touches you to the core is when he says of his wife, “If she’s a rose, then I’ll take a dozen.”  Wonderful.  Music maestro Kevin Arthur, whom you should probably be knowledgeable of if you’ve followed quite a few CMR releases for any length of time, lends to music production of this Spanish lullaby.  He played all of the instruments except for the guitar, played by John Murray.  Romance is in the air.  Are you in love with the Savior? 

I hope I’ve wet your appetite!  Da’ T.R.U.T.H. has grown tremendously.  With each song his flow fits the mood perfectly—from the hardcore “Click (No Regrets),” to the soft Spanish “Rose.”  Because he has undoubtedly grown in his walk with the Lord, there is wisdom imparted on every single song!  I was so happy to hear that because it’s time that we as Christians start growing up and walking in the higher calling of this life we say we live!  The one thing I believe this album will do is challenge believers to walk in the utmost of integrity, which is what the song “Open Book” speaks on.  I’ll let you find out about that song when you get the album!  As well, everyone—whether young or old—is challenged to live their lives to the fullest for God in all things… on the job, in ministry, in your family, with your peers, and even with your enemies.  Why?  Because your life is a book that people are reading—good or bad.  Trust me, someone is reading you.  And what people give their attention to most will be what they begin to resemble.  So, when people read you and begin to emulate you, what would you see as a reflection of yourself?  Will it be to the glory of our God, or will it be to your shame?  Parents?  Teachers?  Leaders?  Christians?  We all have a responsibility.  Yes, it may get hard at times, and we may have to let some things go (peep “Price Tag”), but we all need to “man up” and stop making excuses!  There is a greater day ahead for those of us who keep fighting the good fight of faith!   We’ll see His face! 

To Da’ T.R.U.T.H.: great job homie!  I’m proud of this work you’ve put out.  I’m sure the Lord is well pleased with it!  It is the best album I’ve heard in a long time, and without a doubt is a classic! 

Release Date: July 10 2007

Record Label: Cross Movement Records

Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. Who Am I? ft. Tye Tribbett
3. Man Up ft. John Wells – The Tonic
4. Star Struck ft. The Ambassador
5. Price Tag ft. Trip Lee
6. 13/30 [Interlude]
7. 13/30 ft. TWyse
8. Every Day ft. Tia Pittman
9. Why I Do
10. That Great Day ft. Donnie McClurkin & Tye Tribbett
11. I Need You ft. IZZY
12. Open Book
13. Rose [Interlude]
14. Rose ft. Lisa McClendon
15. Click (No Regrets)
16. Fig Tree
17. Outro