Review – Mahagony Jones “The Gathering” Mixtape
This is the best mixtape I've ever heard.
Before I ever loaded the album into my car's sound system, my roadies and I had hopped the plane up to Detroit to catch the album release. I'd never been to a release party quite like it. To keep it short, we experienced a gathering with a clear purpose. There were signs of protest (against the likes of wicked cultural icons and castrated American "Christianity," that is), a buzz of expectation, and a stage that displayed song after song of in-your-face lyrics and dramatics to match. As if that weren't enough, posted at the back of the stage area hung a large projector screen that offered the audience a visual representation of all that was being expressed that night. I walked away stunned.
So I knew something of what to expect from the album. And I've been none less than amped since the first listen. In fact, I was looking forward to the day when this CD would be in the hands of everyone on Earth (but especially residents of the 'hood) with its relevant, timely message. The Yuinon delivers again with this latest project: The Gathering.
When you first cop this CD, the first thing you'll notice will be the insert's cover. It displays an image of a typical '60's era protest march. The only difference is that you'll see, instead of signs that read "I Am a Man," "Jobs Now!" or "Don't Shop Where You Can't Work," you'll notice posters reading "Stop Pimpin' Now!" and "Live Godly or Die Trying!" What an introduction. You'll realize quickly, though, that what comes from your speakers when the CD is inserted is even more striking.
"Too many boys in the 'hood/need a few good men//most of the ones we got/they locked up in the pen'//doin' time upstate/pushin' weight for a friend//if that's keepin' it real/then let's play pretend." Mahogany Jones delivers these verses with driving conviction here in "No Sense," which is a mere peer into the force you'll catch in your time with this album. This track is one of many that deal with real issues that expertly cast a wedge between people and their ability to see the Truth, which is the Person and Work of Christ, the only One through Whom people can be saved from the eternal consequences of their sin. "I'm convinced Willie Lynch wasn't the one typing/I know Beelzebub's handwritin'," says Mahogany in her signature flow and illuminating commentary on the true source of the confusion and utter depravity permeating our culture. This song and the album as a whole is noticeably in tune with the way of life of contemporary society, properly assessing all its woes and contradictions.
Another noticeable feature of this project is its ability to expose the wantonness of this life to the people in it. This mixtape literally snatches down the overpriced, too-large jeans from the waist, exposing the crusty, stinky butt crack of American pop culture and its prominence in the 'hood. Mahogany and Shekinah boldly proclaim this message on their track, "Sex," in which several senseless contradictions are uncovered, including their observation that sexual promiscuity leads to folks "catching more breakouts than volcanic eruptions/but that's never up for discussion." In amazement, they show how dysfunctional behavior is promoted often, but the consequences are largely ignored. In the hook, the artists start with a statement but end in a question: "Sex on the radio/sex on the videos/I can't really take it no mo'//'cause everybody's sellin' it/everybody's buying it/but is it really worth your soul?" The tune "Exodus" pushes the same exhortation to listeners to examine that which they often let slide into their consciousness unchecked. Mahogany warns listeners: "Don't let the enemy catch you cat-nappin'/like old school Indian chiefs he's wig-snatchin'//leaving your brains exposed/and kept cold." Challenging another common practice in our world today (abortion), she adds an appropriate question later on in this piece: "What gives us the right to take what we ain't even give/what happened to the law of live and let live?" These and many, many more lyrics in this project are worth way more than the purchase price. This is one album that almost literally mows you down with truth, and does so to expert scratches, stylish flow, and awesome lyricism.
The Gathering's 31 tracks include several that point to the glory of God. "Heaven to Earth," featuring Chris Lawson, is a gorgeous rendition of the popular Sunday morning worship song, with a great musical flow and pleasant flavor. Mahogany's rhyme at the end speaks to her response to the majesty of the Savior of her soul: "I'm chillin' at the foot of your throne/with incense of praises to fill up your nose." "Get High," featuring Chevonne Coleman, is filled with brilliant advice: no matter what's going on, believers are to cast their affections on Christ and stay attuned to He who outlasts all strife. In this smooth and relaxing track, you're told to "Watch Him do you like a Trekkie then send you a beam//to a whole 'nother stratosphere/whole 'nother atmosphere" when you're feeling low. And God is certainly big-upped in "War," where Mahogany dives into the sheer assurance that believers have that they're in eternal Truth. In exposing the divine source of Biblical Scripture, Mahogany asks how "64 different authors come together and properly predict the future?" referring to yet another proof that the Bible that guides our lives is God-breathed.
Speaking of a bunch of different authors, believe me when I say that this project is a bangin' example of quite a few HHH heads gathering together and putting their astounding talents to good use. There's literally too much genius in The Gathering to mention here, but recognize that this mixtape is a must-have, and a must-go-out-and-distribute-to-the-lost. From Maji's expert deejaying, to content that's thick with meaning, to rhymes spit by Light the Flow Minista, EP, Precise, Quan, I Ron ic Lee, Techniq and others … The Gathering is a splendid work of art.
And true to form, this project concludes with appropriate closing remarks by Kiwi. These comments fittingly set the stage for true Christian discipleship instead of merely requesting decisions for an altar call. As was previously declared, the Yuinon delivers again. I honestly don't know how volume 2 of this mixtape series can top this. Enjoy!
Record Label: Yuinon Records