I recently had the pleasure of being assigned to review the latest project by 116 Clique. Entitled "Amped," this collection of six tunes is the first I've heard in Holy Hip Hop that coalesces rugged rap spills with the craggy flavor that the rock sound brings to the table. Let's have a little conversation about this new contribution to our beloved genre. I'll happily reply to all your questions!
You: So, you got a chance to hear the new 116 jawn. In one word, what’s your reaction?
Me: One word?!? You gotta be –
You: Just one word. Come on. Challenge yourself.
Me: OK, my one word is … “absurd.”
Me: Absurd. Yeah. It’s utterly absurd what these dudes do in this project. It’s absurdly creative. Absurdly ground-breaking (for Christian hip hop, that is). Absurdly eye-opening.
You: Wow. That’s pretty extreme, sis. Let me ask you this … what makes it different than any other Holy Hip Hop CD out now?
Me: Let me see. I would have to say what makes it different is the inclusion of authentic rock, the blending of more than one song per track, the energy level, and the way it gripped my conscious to actually live out my faith. It’s different, all right. But not in the way a cautious person would say “different” when they really mean “retarded.” Different in a wild, amazing way. Yeah.
You: Hmmm. Anything else that stood out about this album?
Me: Let me tell you … the whole project stands out like a sore thumb. This CD was produced with excellence. The instrumental arrangements are brilliant. Using epic rock mingled with a subtle hip hop sound and crafty lyricism is an enormous idea that I haven’t seen much of in hip hop at all since I was in junior high school. Sho, Trip, Tedashii and Lecrae spit like the world is coming to an end. It’s live, the strings and percussions are rowdy throughout the album, and I’ve been playing those six tracks over and over again – I can’t get enough. Let me give you some examples. The title track, performed by Trip Lee, takes me to a musical paradise. Admittedly, this is because I’ve loved the rock-combined-with-rap sound for half my life. Anyway, in “Amped,” a smooth arrangement initiates the song, then there is a mix of percussions, then the build-up to the hook is hype and full of energy, then there’s a smooth post-hook lull. It’s absurd! It’s definitely a welcome departure from what we sometimes see in hip hop tracks … four bars and then a loop! One thing I also have to say I didn’t expect was how beautifully Trip’s gritty voice flows nicely with the rugged instruments lead by the electric guitar in “Cash or Christ/Fanatics.” Again, the live sounds and musical arrangement was incredible. These cats didn’t just choose random rock tracks and lay their vocals over them. And only a few of the songs were familiar anyway.
You: Tell me more. Do you have any favorites on this CD?
Me: Well, several of the songs were incredibly rich. My favorite has to be “No More” with Tedashii and Lecrae. First of all, I’ve always loved Tedashii’s bold and overt delivery. His vocals work especially well over the snare, the bass drum and the screaming strings. But more importantly, I found myself getting amped on this song. It literally has you hyped to consistently resist a cowardly enemy who seems to ball all your weaknesses together and throw them at you, taking full advantage of your indwelling sin. This song had me reciting the hook … “We not gon’ take it no mo’! We not gon’ take it no mo’! We not gon’ take it no mo’! We not gon’ take it no mo’!” I can listen to that tune for days. But a close second would have to be “The Red Revolution” by Tedashii and Sho because of its rare content. The hook has a revolutionary sound to it, and Sho’s lyrics are profound when he says “I used to think Black power / Black thought / Black owned …” but after comparing those temporary sentiments to the eternal Truth of Christ, he got his priorities straight. It’s all about “Red,” not “black” or “white,” as we’ve often been deceived into believing. Lecrae’s “Beyond Belief” reveals his passion for the grace of Christ when he rhymes “My life if worthless without worship / so now my purpose is His service.” Be sure to listen to this song next time you occupy a window seat on a plane. This jawn in that setting will take you to another world. And, of course, “Send Me/Represent” with Tedashii and Lecrae is a banger. The rock resonance meets up with the lyrics right on time. This combo is a great way to start the album off.
You: Sounds good. But I know you well enough to know you could not have been 100% impressed. Go ahead. Spill the flaws.
Me: This album is good. All I can think of concerning flaws is that I wish the rock instruments were a bit more crisp to the ear. But that’s it.
You: That’s it?!? Well, it looks like that’s all I can think to ask. Any last words?
Me: Hit up the Reach Records website and preorder this CD. It’s well worth it.
You: Thanks for your insight. Peace!
Release Date: August 28 2007
Record Label: Reach Records
1. Send Me / Represent – Lecrae ft. Tedashii
2. The Red Revolution – Tedashii ft. Sho Baraka
3. Beyond Belief – Lecrae
4. Cash or Christ / Fanatics – Trip Lee ft. Lecrae
5. No More – Tedashii ft. Lecrae
6. Amped – Trip Lee