Hazakim - Theophanies

I’ve heard a few artists and fans alike remark about the incredible didactic potential of hip-hop music due to the genre’s mile-a-minute lyrical format. As a result of the fast-paced nature of hip-hop, rappers can convey tons of lyrical information in one track–much more than say, your average folk song. As a label, Lampmode has certainly made the most of hip-hop’s potential for rapidly dispensing pounds of information over beats, crafting a brand of rap known as “lyrical theology”.

Thus, it should be no surprise that Hazakim’s Theophanies is the quintessential example of this blend of theology and hip-hop. A beautifully crafted album, Theophanies will satisfy your musical tastes while stretching your intellect with theological insights that are usually only discussed inside of the walls of your (best) local seminary.

Theophanies is not just the usual theologically reformed hip-hop album. Theophanies is an blend of hip-hop and apologetics as the two brothers–Michael and Anthony Wray–better known as Hazakim examine the Old Testament Scriptures and effectively proclaim Yeshua (Jesus) as the Risen Messiah and Lord of all. If you haven’t caught the hints yet, Hazakim are Messianic Jews and Theophanies is driven by the Hazakim’s passion for proving Jesus as the Messiah, the crucified and risen Lord.

It’s not difficult to believe that this project was several years in the works, Theophanies is intricately composed from the lyrics to the production to the structure of the album; all testify to the great deliberation and skill that went into the project.

The table for Theophanies is set with the violin laced “Intro,” which in the definition of epic fashion, unpacks the prophecies of the Messiah and the Jews awaiting his coming. “Fulfillment (Ben Joseph, Ben David)” follows as Hazakim’s apologetic anthem to those who don’t view Jesus as the Messiah as the brothers reference the Hebrew Scriptures to prove that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment. While a solid track on all fronts, “Fulfillment” is just a taste of the impressive music to come on the rest of the album.

Tracks like “Genesis 18,” “Genesis 32,” “Exodus 3,” and “Judges 13,” each detail a theophany (an appearance of God to man) from the OT Scriptures and affirm them as revelations of Yeshua. Not only do Hazakim beautifully retell each respective passage, they succinctly prove Jesus as the revelation. Quite fittingly, the production of these theophany tracks are highly influenced by Jewish culture and feature rhythmic Jewish melodies, instrumentation, and some downright fresh Hebrew samples. One of the best cuts on the album is “Genesis 18” which features some excellent Hebrew instrumentation which I cannot justly describe. Let’s just say these theophany tracks will have your feet moving, your lips attempting to sing along with the dope Hebrew samples and your mind stretched as you try to process the surfeit of lyrical info hitting you bar after bar. (Yes, Theophanies has an incredibly high-replay value and when you’re bumping it at home, listen with a pen and pad for notes.)

Even the tracks that aren’t as strongly influenced with Jewish production elements are still excellent in quality and remarkably fit well with the aura of the album. “Salvation Plan” featuring Stephen the Levite is equipped with a typical yet lovely soul sample as Hazakim and Stephen team up to detail God’s plan of salvation from Abraham to Jesus; yet another track that will leave even the most enlightened enlightened.

“Passover Lamb,” while only average in production, features some highly edifying lyrics as the brothers rap enact Jewish perspectives regarding the Passover, ultimately linking the tale to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

“Crucifixion Description,” is another joint that is soulful in production, yet as you’d assume from its title, somber and poignant in content. As Hazakim describe, with incredible detail, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, listeners will be hard pressed not to be moved–especially to think that, while unbelievably painful physically, it was becoming sin on the cross that was most traumatizing for the Lord (2 Cor. 5:21).

Overall, Theophanies is nothing short of remarkable. In what seems to be their trademark fashion, Hazakim has beautifully blended hip-hop, theology, and apologetics to witness to unbelieving Jews and consequently, better equip and inspire other believers to witness to the Jewish community, all the while further enlightening all listeners on how the Hebrew Scriptures testify to Jesus as Lord. Hip-hop is an incredible tool and Hazakim has it down to a science.

At 20 tracks, Theophanies is mostly excellent throughout and even its one or two merely “average” production moments outshine most anything else in the genre, lyrically. Complete with meaningful interludes, Theophanies is a rare breed of album: it will satisfy you musically with its innovative sounds and enlighten even the enlightened with its emphasis on theology and apologetics, ultimately demonstrating that the faith of Abraham culminates in Jesus Christ. Do yourself a huge favor and purchase Theophanies immediately.

Label: Lamp Mode Recordings

Release Date: June 23 2009

1. Intro
2. Fulfillment
3. Genesis 18
4. Brace Yourself
5. Shamayim of Gold
6. Salvation Plan feat. Stephen the Levite
7. Interlude: Dr Brown
8. Genesis 32
9. Mercy feat. Muze One
10. Eighties Mix
11. Heavy Laden feat. Dwayne O’Dell
12. Uncut and Raw
13. Exodus 3
14. Passover Lamb
15. Crucifixion Description
16. Resurrection
17. Judges 13
18. Only Hope
19. Kadosh (The Conclusion)
20. Summary of the Evidence w/ Dr. Michael Brown
21. Outro