116 Clique is a mainstay and one of the clear leaders in Christian Hip Hop. They have blazed trails with their curriculum and amazed with their focus on ministry and being in the mission field. There has been a great divide between those who are with Reach, Lampmode and Cross Movement Records and everyone else. This was mostly done by fans and not the artists themselves. However, at times I started to wonder if Reach artists were being elitist. Then I started seeing these artists building with others outside of their camps. I started seeing relationships being built publicly on Twitter. I probably should not have assumed anything.
With all that being said, Sho Baraka released his colossal new album, 'Lions and Liars'. This album is an obvious tug-o-war between the man of God and the sinful nature of man. This album features some heavy hitting guest artists including the expected, Tedashii, Trip Lee, and Lecrae. Outsiders that weren't so expected were reggae artist Benjah (don't sleep on him), rock group After Edmund and even such artists as Propaganda and Cajo artist, Erica Cumbo. The beats are banging hard and the ministry aspect is strong, while Sho's growth as a lyricist is very evident.
The "Lion's Anthem" is an ode to those who are repping Christ in their respective jobs or ministries while "Liar's Anthem" takes a look at the life of those who are controlled by the life of living in sin and walking after the flesh. Sho brings it home in the last verse and calls for all to give their allegiance to Christ. Both are bangers and both deserve to be listened to carefully.
Pro laces the track and sings the hook on "My Life (My Aim)". Sho is very candid about where his past decisions took him along with the identity crisis that he dealt with. At times, I found myself lost in the beauty of the lyrics which reminded me of things that I went through. "Me Myself and I" is another look at the struggle of dealing with living for self, while striving to live for Christ. The hook and track (featuring a simple, but crazy syncopated beat) are so infectious. "Shut Us Down" is a rock-fused anthem for the ages. Don't believe me? Just take a listen and get ready to pump your fist and nod your head. After Edmund brings the rock edge while Lecrae flows oh so nice. "Word" is a CERTIFIED BANGER... period.
It is good to see Sho take chances and do some things differently. This is evident with lead single, "We Can Be More", featuring JR. This is song about seeking a pure and loving relationship and it is done with excellence, minus the cheese factor.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear Propaganda present the poetic interlude, "Boys". Sho then gives props to men who are taking care of their families on "Revolutionary" featuring Trip Lee on the hook. Others songs to peep are "The Rising" featuring the clean raspy vocals of Erica Cumbo and the southern flow of Trip Lee. Also noteworthy is "I.T.W.N.O.I", a song with the wow factor because of the good balance of gritty rappers, Tedashii and R-Swift, and singers Benjah and Honey LaRochelle.
There have been several Christian Hip Hop albums that I have been reluctant to recommend to others, but I recommend this album to anyone. There is so much to enjoy on 'Lions and Liars'. This CD makes me even more proud to be a Christian and Sho challenges me not to live just a mediocre life on the sidelines. It was a well crafted and well put together album. Buy it. Enjoy it. Buy it for others and watch lives become impacted.
Purchase 'Lions & Liars' on iTunes
Label: Reach Records
Release Date: 3/30/2010
1. Extinction Intro
2. Lion's Anthem
3. Famous ft. Erica Cumbo
4. Shut Us Down ft. Lecrae, After Edmund
5. We Can Be More ft. J.R.
6. Mercy On Me ft. Chinua Hawk
7. I'm Black (A word from Tom Ason)
8. My Life (Nice Aim) ft. Pro
9. Me, Myself and I
10. Liar's Anthem
11. BOYS!!! (A word from Propaganda)
12. Revolutionary Died ft. Trip Lee
13. Oh Well
14. The Rising ft. Trip Lee, Erica Cumbo
15. I.T.W.N.O.I. ft. Tedashii, R-Swift, Benjah, Honey LaRochelle
16. Half of Me ft. McKendree Augustas, Muche
17. 4ever Is 2morrow ft. JAMM
18. Kobe Bryant On 'Em ft. K-Drama
19. Feel So Alone ft. BenJah, Miss LuLu, Conviction
20. I See The Lord (Remix) ft. Quiana Fields