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No one can deny the lyrical ability of an artist at the caliber of Mark J. His strength in tone and content has always pushed him to the top of the emcees food chain if there exists one. His unwavering dedication to bring the truth and his passion for this culture yield a great blend that shows in this album. The various styles of spoken word, neo-soul, reggae and hip-hop truly represent the heart of our culture and its origins. 

From the beginning of the album, we are brought back to the raw drum – a form of communication in Beat of My Soul. The first track opens hard with Mark J exclaiming that Jesus is his passion in My Passion. In the title track, City of Pain, lyrics like “I’m seeing queens camouflaged as whores / echoes of 44’s resonate through closed doors” give the listener an idea of this albums imagery. In the Root of Evil, Mark J emphasizes the tainted nature of both sinner and saved, while in Talthi Cumi, we hear the story of what many women experience on their journey towards a destructive family.

 

Through the album, spoken word is emphasized in tracks like Passing Moment and It’s a Shame, showing us that Mark J is not just a Christian Rapper, but a genuine participant of this culture. Acapella joints like Spit a Bit definitely expose the reality of his ability to speak substance while orchestrating his words in true, authentic and flowing poetics.

 

While this album is very strong artistically, there were some “skip track” points as well. On tracks like In It, Not of It and Rock, the combination of repetitiveness and so strong of a strong delivery dampen the track. Some of production also seemed to lack the energy and crisp tone on some of the tracks such as National Anthem and 14 Karat Gold Ave.

 

Overall, this album is definitely a must have for anyone who loves this culture and loves to hear the truth unadulterated. The title to this album is a perfect description of its content and Mark J’s ability to keep in that context truly makes him a master of his art. Open your eyes, challenge yourself and bring the truth of the gospel to the many Cities of Pain – point definitely made. 

 


 

Track Listing

 

01. Beat Of My Soul
02. My Passion
03 In It, Not Of It
04. Lubric
05. Rock
06. Passing Moments
07. City Of Pain
08. My Peoples
09. National Anthem
10. Lift Up The Banner
11. Distractions
12. Root Of Evil
13. Po Pilgram
14. A Slave's Cry
15. Living Martyrs
16. Right Revolution
17. April Fools Day
18. It's A Shame
19. Talitha Cumi
20. Spit A Bit
21. 14 Karat Gold Ave
22. Club 7
23. Queens To Kings
24. Realness
25. Sundown Wars

 





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