Review – Decipha ‘Rep’
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In 2009 Legacy Music Records emerged from seemingly nowhere to drop one of the most talked about independent albums of the year, Katalyst’s ‘Death by Design’. The album was welcomed with critical acclaim because of its stellar production and mature lyrical content. These factors made it very hard to believe that it was made by a new artist who most had never heard of. With the release of Decipha’s ‘Rep’ the label once again introduces us to a new artist whose music far surpasses his notoriety. In the process they provide listeners with more of the same high quality, Christ-Exalting Hip Hop, Legacy Music is quickly becoming known for.
Decipha has been rapping for 10+ years, so although this is his debut album he is far from a new artist. He has garnered a level of notoriety over the years due to his active tour schedule which has led to him sharing stages with notable names like Trip Lee, J’son, and Lecrae. However, ‘Rep’ does not seek to introduce the listener to Decipha. Instead ‘Rep’ seeks to introduce listeners to God and show them how to rep him properly. The album begins with Decipha using his patented rapid fire flow to voice concerns about the world and it’s misunderstanding of the character of God. It’s his firmest belief that the world and a lot of “Christians” really do not know who the God of the Bible is. So he makes it his business to acquaint them with Him. On “Heaven” he boldly states “Many say they representing’em well / Compared to the text they really representing themselves / Because a lot of who He is not what we think / For starters we gotta remember Luke 9:23”. This is running theme throughout the album is encouraging true believers to live in light of redemption, and calling lukewarm, grace-abusing, fence-sitters to repentance.
Decipha has a truly unique style the he, along with Tedashii and HGA, are clearly one of the more skilled rappers to use the rapid fire delivery. When his rapping is more modestly paced it seems to reveal a slight deficiency in his rhyme schemes and moments of awkward phrasing. However, his unorthodox flow is not enough to detract from the great lyrical content he provides on each song. ‘Rep’ is written thoughtfully and makes every effort to draw the ears of the listeners to meditate on the majesties of God. Decipha clearly shows he is learned in the scripture, and readily references the teaching of Piper more than he does any pop culture phenomenon. The album is also helped tremendously by wonderfully diverse production which Decipha does a great job of altering his flow and tone to match. From the hard hitting “I’m Not” to the melodic stereo-friendly synths of “Hallowed,” all the beats on this album are excellent, with the exception of “Gospel Love.” Here Decipha teams up with Swoope and Katalyst to sound a much needed call for the church to operate in love. Unfortunately, the choir-meets auto-tune arrangement of the hook hampers the song and serves to overshadow the great lyrical efforts by all involved.
One of the most striking tracks on ‘Rep’ is “Quarantine” featuring Odd Thomas. The two emcees exchange break-neck verses about the depravity of man over haunting piano keys and a guitar riff that can only be described as demented. This song does an unparalleled job of painting a picture of the dire predicament the sin of humanity places them in, as well as giving the listener chills down their spine. As great as Decipha is on this song he is clearly at his lyrical best on the “Interlude” where he spits a vicious verse over a battle themed beat complete with the accompaniment of opera vocals. The song convincingly outlines the call of God to genuine believers to bear fruit in their lives. Decipha pulls no punches as he verbally assaults false converts going as far as to making a not-so veiled reference to a popular Christian singer.
It is certainly surprising that on an album about repping Christ, Decipha spends almost as much time chastising those who do not represent God faithfully as he does commending those that do. For example, on the beautifully produced “Freedom,” where one would expect to find Decipha celebrating the freedom found in Christ, he instead spends 3/4 of the song reacquainting the listener with how fallen humanity is and rebuking proponents of the prayer for salvation. On “Folly” Decipha once again calls out false believers, although this is an unneeded return to familiar ground this song excels because of a dope beat and an incredible offering from Legacy Music recording artist Mimik who rattles off a series of mind bending lines like “you forcing it / the gospel’s twisted like a contortionist /… I think your worse than an abortionist / Cuz you are aborting them before they can be Born Again”
‘Rep’ truly seems to hit its stride when Decipha turns his attention from addressing the depravity of man to praising the glory of God. “The Pleasure is Mine” finds Decipha reviling in Christ’s election of believers over an intriguing blend of electric guitar, piercing piano keys, and subtle synths. The song boasts a half-sung hook which is certain to lodge itself in the mind of the listener. This is immediately followed by “Persuaded” which is an amazing song in its own right. Here Decipha spits a tongue twisting verse about pressing to know God while Thi’sl provides yet another gravely voiced memorable verse to his discography. One of Decipha’s most admirable attributes is that he does an excellent job of being transparent of his own shortcomings throughout the album. In a day where many people portray themselves as spiritual giants, it is refreshing to see such honesty from a Christian artist. On songs like “Red Flag” and “Disqualified” he goes to great length to let the listener know he is still very much in progress.
Despite all the aforementioned highlights the single greatest moment of this album comes right towards the end. “Matrimony” featuring Katalyst is one of the most heart wrenching songs you may ever hear. It is difficult to imagine any believer in Christ not being moved to tears as Decipha plays the true to life role of sinful Christian and Katalyst fills the anthropomorphic shoes of God the Father. Each emcee recounts the events between creation and the marriage day of Christ and the Church from their own perspective. The sample of guttural singing the beat is built upon serves to underline the emotion each emcee pours into this song. This is simply one of the most moving songs I have ever heard.
The album ends triumphantly with the soul-stirring “Take Us Home” which reminds believers of one huge incentive to rep: the Return of Christ. As Decipha paints a portrait of Christ’s imminent return one can almost see the skies crack. Although it is not without its missteps ‘Rep’ is sure to encourage saints all across the globe with its Christ-centered anthems and daring lyrical content. This project serves as a wonderful introduction to Decipha, an artist who will definitely be impacting Christian Hip Hop for years to come.
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Label: Legacy Music Records
03. Rep Hard
04. Quarentine (Ft. Odd Thomas)
06. Red Flag
07. Hear Say (Ft. Fitzgerald)
09. Gospel Love (Ft. Katalyst & Swoope)
11. Pleasure Is Mine
12. Persuaded (Ft. Thi’sl)
13. Hallowed (Ft. Emj)
14. I’m Not (Ft. Tedashii)
15.Folly (Ft. Mimik)
16.Matrimony (Ft. Katalyst)
17.Take Us Home (Ft. Kb-Hga)