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Mr. Del - Thrilla

There’s been a good deal of discussion, controversy, and contention about Mr. Del. Message board fanatics have debated and questioned whether or not is music is truly God-glorifying in its content and supporters and doubters have exchanged comment after comment emphatically stating their points. In the midst of all this, Mr. Del’s kept doing his thing and been quite successful, recently inking a new lucrative distribution deal. Despite hearing all perspectives on the man and his music, Thrilla is my first introduction to the world of Mr. Del and I like to think I’ve reserved judgment based on the music rather than the two cents of everyone else.

According to the Memphis native, Thrilla is an acronym for “the real anointing” and the album ranges thematically from getting crunk for Christ to celebrating the goodness of Christ, to Del’s transparent reflections on his life and upbringing in the hood. It should go without saying that Del is the epitome of a southern rapper; sonically, Thrilla fits the bill as well.

Thrilla predominately features the trademarked thick, crunk beats that so many have come to love from the southern hip-hop scene. On the mic, Del is pretty close to flawless with the flow and delivery. Lyrically, Del isn’t anything to call home about but as a southern rapper, I assume that’s not really his aim. If you approach a southern hip-hop album looking for shai linne-esque lyricism than you’re more than likely going to get frustrated to ruin your day (southern emcees run in their lane, and it’s worthwhile to appreciate them for it rather than force them to comply to something else).

With Thrilla, it seems Del has taken aim to provide listeners with a crunk soundtrack to enjoy as they live life and celebrate Christ--while giving them a deeper glimpse into his life story. That said, I’d classify Thrilla as a mild success-- there are a number of joints that will get you up and doing the latest dance trend, there are a few cuts that emphatically celebrate Christ and Del is certainly at his best performing the later and on the introspective tip. Still, Thrilla’s successes don’t equate to musical longevity. Given the album’s banging production and catchy hooks, Thrilla is a album that is well suited for the summer but not too much after that.

Clocking in at 20 tracks with no skits, Thrilla offers a lot of material to be digested. While some tracks sound similar and sort of blend into others, Del provides quite a few noteworthy tracks. Before settling into a predominately southern sound, Thrilla kicks off with “Want It,” a rhythmic, flute-infused joint as Del takes aim at his critics and remarks at having to “fight the devil and the body, too”. Musically, this joint bangs even if the way Del responds to the critics is over the top.

“Spread the Gospel” is Del’s evangelistic anthem and an innovative one at that. Mali Music provides a reggae-inspired hook over an intriguing snap beat. For those who say Del isn’t about the gospel, I think this track would answer that issue.

Del gets on the crunk/party tip with “Crunk Az Me” and “Rock it Out,” two catchy joints that most will either hate or love. Featuring a Lil’ Jon sample and system-rattling drums, “Crunk Az Me” is the definition of a southern banger. Again the issue isn’t so much the production but rather the content. The track features IroCc and Gammage along with Del and it’s really only Gammage who comes correct and says anything of significance. Del settles by closing his verse saying, “Jesus alive and I‘m the golden child/you seen them other rappers jockin‘ my style.” Just because a song bangs doesn’t give a rapper license to say next to nothing of thought and significance.

“Rock it Out” sounds like a number out of Soulja Boy and Arab’s playbook, complete with growling during the hook and their trademark “YOU!” I’m not going to lie though, the joint is catchy and it bangs hard. This is another hate it or love it joint. Guest artists Canton Jones and IroCc fail to help Del’s cause as they settle for talking about rims while Del’s verse is focuses on rocking out for the Lord. I do have a slight problem with Cajo and IroCc bragging about rims and again it’s this hitch with the content that, for me, taints an otherwise hype song.

On tracks “Reverse the Curse,” “Run Away,” and “My Life Rated R (Real),” Del testifies to the transformative power of the gospel and does so well. “Reverse the Curse” features a hypnotic beat as Del hits on the power of God to free all from the past. “Run Away” is a great Christ-centered praise anthem featuring, the up and coming group, Movement of Truth. They team with Del over a Timbaland-esque beat to celebrate the faithfulness of God. These are some of the best tracks on Thrilla as the content matches with the quality of the production.

Though it might not have a lot of replay value, “My Life Rated R (Real)” is also one of the better tracks on Thrilla. Del revisits the story of family and his hard-upbringing while testifying to the grace and providence of God. “Don‘t Do It” is similar in nature but unfortunately, the beat (though featuring a dope soul sample) sounds wildly under-produced as does the mixing of the track. It’s truly a shame as the transparency of Del on the track is moving.

The album closes with “Indescribable,” a great blend of worship and street flavor. Beckah Shae contributes a stellar hook while Del gives three hard verses of Christ-filled praise. This track leaves you wishing there were more like it on the album.

All in all, Thrilla has quite a few dope tracks but as a whole, the album is nothing spectacular. The beats bang, Del is cool on the mic, and the content, while at times curious, is still centered around Christ. Fans of southern hip-hop ought to check Thrilla out; it’s a good disc to have in the whip for the summer.

Label: DmG Records / Universal Music

Release Date: June 30 2009

Tracklisting:
1. Want It
2. More Than A Conqueror
3. Crunk Az Me
4. Panic Room
5. Rock It Out
6. Spread The Gospel
7. Checkin' My Swag
8. Get Dom
9. Out There
10. Blessed Fresh
11. This Is It
12. Step Forward
13. U Can Do It 2
14. Faith Walk
15. Rite Back
16. Reverse The Curse
17. Don't Do It
18. Run Away
19. My Life Rated 'R'eal
20. Indescribable

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