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There are many parallels that can be drawn between the Christian existence and other areas of life. Analogies such as the faith as a battlefield and the Christian worker as a farmer are familiar to all in Christendom. With 'Student of Life' Memphis resident Shane Kidd introduces a new parallel to the mix. The Believer is the Student, Christ is the Teacher, and Life is the Classroom. Throughout the album this metaphor is fleshed out through witty lines and thoughtful songs. Although this is a novel concept at places it is betrayed by average music that fails to live up to its lofty ambition.

As an independent artist Shane Kidd has released a very polished album. The vocals are crisp, the packaging is great, and the beats are bangin'. Did I mention the beats are bangin'? With the exception of the forgettable sonic of "Groundwork 101" the production is stellar. Some highlights are the soulful "Beautiful Love" featuring Diamone, from Lecrae's "Invisible," and the very rewindable "Hallways." On the latter track Shane along with k-Drama envision the world as a series of hallways filled with opposing ideologies the believer must navigate. Shane is at his best over the song's inventive beat; as he drags out his rhyming words and paints the listener a vivid picture you clearly see great potential in him as an artist.

The problem is that these glimpses of brilliance are far and few between. Shane's inability to sound energetic is one of his most notable drawbacks. For example on the hook of "Straight Fire" an otherwise dope song is ruined by a hook that is devoid of any emotion. His lack of enthusiasm overshadows inventive lines on the song such as, "We gotta fight hard, resist, and excel/ but when the dark nights come I've seen Christians bail." His lyrics regularly show marks of a senior; however, he often makes sophomoric mistakes such as mumbling words and occasionally allowing his flow to lose sight of the beat.

Despite these artistic missteps 'Student of Life' offers the listener a lot of good insight. "Sweet Temptation" admonishes believers to be careful in their pursuit of relationships because there may be "greener grass on the other side but you still gotta mow lawns." On the melodic "Life to a Legacy" Shane co-labors with his mentor Sho Baraka to remind listeners of the importance of life on life discipleship. The stand-out "Escape" finds Shane reaching out to a drop-out who left the school of Christ to pursue fame and status. You can hear Shane's broken heart as he pleads for his brother-in-Christ to come back and finish his education. This album is replete with precious jewels such as these. If you take time to invest in listening to this album you will be richly rewarded and encouraged to hit both the books and the streets harder.

It is very refreshing to hear a conceptual Christian Hip Hop album that is not released by Lamp Mode. With 'Student of Life' Shane reminds believers we "Cant be some bookworms cuz our time will pass thru/ Gotta be active inside and outside the classroom." Although, this album lacks transcendence it is still a solid release, especially for a new artist. The final track "Learn to Live" serves as a fitting close to this album. It wraps up the theme of the album well and offers a promise of Shane Kidd's growth as an emcee.

Purchase on iTunes.

Label: n/a

Release Date: April 13, 2010

Track Listing:

1. Student of Life
2. Son Light
3. Escape (Skipping Out)
4. Groundwork 101 feat. Emajinthis and Muche
5. Hallway Journeys feat. k-Drama
6. Build Up Feat. Dillon Chase
7. Sweet Temptation feat. Emajinthis
8. Psalm 98
9. Life to Legacy feat. Sho Baraka
10. Introspective
11. Study Break
12. Straight Fire
13. Beautiful Love feat. Diamone
14. Learn to Live feat. Fitzgerald