Review – Urban D. – Unothodox
Urban D. has been around for a while, getting started in the Christian hip-hop scene back in the mid 90's when most people were just getting acquainted with this spiritual form of rap music. Fast forward ten years and with five albums under his belt, pastor and hip-hopper, Tommy Kyllonen, is set to drop his most inspiring and powerful album to date. The name of the album is titled Un.orthodox with "church. hip-hop. culture." as a subtitle. The purpose behind this album is to serve as a musical look at the journey of Urban D. and Crossover Church (the church where he is senior pastor), which is a journey of unorthodox people working to build a culturally relevant hip-hop ministry that is as unorthodox as much as it is innovative. Accompanied with this compact disc is a DVD documentary that shares the story of how a young Tommy Kyllonen moved from Philadelphia to Florida and eventually became the senior pastor of one of a world renowned hip-hop church. The DVD also features interviews with some of his mentors, church members and ministry workers, as well as a footage of services and a tour of the facility. When combined, both the CD and DVD provide a powerful backdrop for showing just how much of an impact an unorthodox person can have when they follow the Lord's lead.
As I already stated, the purpose behind Un.orthodox is to provide a music look at the testimony of Urban D and Crossover Church in becoming one of the nations emerging young ministries that is really making an impact on the body of Christ. With this album, Urban D focuses on how he was able to create such an unorthodox ministry by combining three elements: church, hip-hop, and culture. As we look at each of these elements, individually, we'll see how Un.orthodox is built as an album that will make you nod your head, as well as teach you what it takes to be unorthodox.
Church: This is where it all begins. Without having Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, as the primary focus, you have nothing to build upon. Urban D makes this very clear, as his rhymes are full of the Word of God and his life is entirely focused upon ministry. When you listen to this project, you can't help but to see the heart and the passion of Urban D and the rest of Flavor Alliance as they spit bars for Christ that give Him the glory and make the listener aware of the gospel message and love that can be found in Christ alone. The song "Church," featuring many members of the Flavor Alliance (Los-1, Legacy, Symalee, Spe©, Rize, Pastor Derrick, Imperial, and Elijah— be sure to listen for his verse spit in Japanese!) is a great example of this, as each member shows what the church truly is: we are the church, a body of believers serving Christ, and not just a place we go to on Sundays. That's what church is, and that is the foundation that everything else is built upon in Urban D's music and ministry.
Hip-Hop: Now, we wouldn't even be talking about this project if hip-hop wasn't involved. Simply put, this is a hip-hop album, and Urban D is a Christian hip-hop emcee, and Crossover is a hip-hop church. This isn't anything new for Urban D either; as I said, this is his sixth album and has five albums released prior to this one that all got plenty of exposure. Knowing that music is a tool and vehicle for being a voice today, emcees like Urban D couldn't help but us the voice of today to get across the message of Christ, much like how the Apostle Paul would quote many of his philosophical contemporaries to get the gospel preached. The song "Hip-Hop," on this project takes us on a journey through the history of hip-hop, starting in the Bronx, NY during the 70's all the way up to today where hip-hop is a multimedia giant and the voice of an entire generation that is pushing nothing but filth and garbage. What I really like is that the end of this song introduces the listener to the Creator of hip-hop: God.
Culture: By combining church and hip-hop, Urban D is trying to influence a culture for Jesus Christ, a culture that is entrenched and a part of the hip-hop culture. This is what makes what Urban D is doing so unorthodox; instead of trying to take them out of the culture and make people into something they are not, he is taking uncompromisingly taking Jesus into the culture on a level where people are able to relate and understand. This is why Urban D has a hip-hop church and ministry, because those he is trying to reach are a part of the hip-hop culture, and he knows how to speak through hip-hop. One of the ways that he speaks through and to hip-hop is with the song "Culture" where he takes a look at the culture from a Christian perspective and points out how the culture is currently overrun with pride, sex, and violence, all of which can be overcome with the Good News.
Unorthodox: All of this together is what makes Urban D. Un.orthodox; he is a man who refuses to deny who he is and the culture that he belongs to, and is using it to influence an entire culture. The fruit of his labor is clearly evident both in his pastoral ministry and music. This is all shown as Urban D shares the testimony of his unorthodox history and ministry on the opening title track "Un.orthodox." Urban D and his ministry is unorthodox, which means that they are simply being real by being who God created them to be, but the challenge is for you to do the same, whoever you might be.
I just shared with you the primary topics that are covered on this album, but that only comprises a third of this album; there is still another two-thirds that are unspoken for, and we will take a look at the topics that are covered on these remaining tracks:
* Learning to appreciate what we have, and to stop always striving to get more (Appreciate)
* Straying away from the Lord, but finding our way back to Him (Home)
* Materialism, and how getting more will never leave you satisfied, but only Christ fulfills that need (Okay)
* Sex and how it is pushed in the media, pornography, and how we can use the Scriptures to fight and combat it (Temptation)
* Being on the grind to share the gospel and influence a culture for Christ (Hustle)
* The story of the Apostle Peter and how God was able to use him (Peter)
* Personal testimony from Urban D of how God blessed him and his wife with their daughters, even when it looked like they'd never have children (Purpose)
* An apology from Urban D for his short coming as a pastor and hip-hop emcee, as well as an apology for Christian hip-hop as a whole (Sorry)
Un.orthodox, Church, Culture, Hip-Hop
Release Date: May 2007
Record Label: Flavor Alliance Media Group
2. Appreciate (featuring Surreal & DJ D.vize)
3. Church (featuring Flavor Alliance
4. Home (featuring Bobby Tinsley)
6. Culture (featuring Los-1 & Rawsrvnt)
7. Temptation (featuring Demetrus)
8. Hustle (featuring Spec & Jabo)
9. Hip-Hop (featuring DJ D.vize & Reflex the Son)
11. Purpose (featuring Harmony)