Rhema Soul’s Fingerprints is pure, unadulterated “beast mode.” I could end the review right there, but I know you want to know why I think that. Let me put it this way. You know your album is hot when the album that came before (‘Worn Soles’) was awesome, but this release makes that release look like it will be an embarrassment to look back on. Fingerprints is a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. Everything that worked on Worn Soles and the ‘Dope Beats, Good News’ EP has been ratcheted up several notches, creating a crisp, tight sound, complemented by exemplary and clever wordplay on the part of the talent trio.
After a slick, South Florida, G-Styles-produced intro stating, “I’m leavin’ my fingerprints,” the first track “Neva Lay Low” introduces the listener to a newer, fresher-sounding Rhema Soul. If you’re looking for the goofy, poppy “Steez” or “Yellow Cheese,” you’re going to have to look elsewhere. The tracks on Fingerprints boast a much more grown up sound. Informed by life circumstances, the new album naturally shows signs of maturation. But don’t think for a second that this album won’t get you bobbing your head. K-Nuff, Butta P, and JuanLove kill the track.
“Fly Away” is a great number about escaping from the past, our selves, our pain. It’s a nice, mid-tempo piece that just asks to be performed live and/or turned into a music video.
“Champions” begins with a nice epic sound declaring, “No they could never take who we are away/Cause we have been through the storm but we came out strong/We are champions/We can see beyond the walls that rise and fall/We put our faith in God so we overcome/We are champions!” Butta-P, who is, quite simply put, one of the best female rappers in Christian music today, starts the track and calls for Christians to act like the humble champions that they are.
“Boom Box” is the album’s lead single and with good reason. This is the “Steez” of Fingerprints. It is just a fun, hip song that will get you shaking your hips and lifting your hands. All the while, the group manages to glorify Christ. It’s a little subversive like that. Nice.
“Let Me Live” features some of the most clever wordplay, reminiscent of such artists as Mos Def, Kanye West, Promise or old school Talib Kwali. K-Nuff raps, “Yeah I’m a veteran/Been rappin’ for better than a decade/But I’ve never been lame and I never can/Not if the world is in need of this medicine/They dyin’ to the elements/I breathe peace/Let em’ in ”
“Sky’s Not The Limit” sounds oddly like everything on Cheno Lyfe’s ‘Home’ album. I suppose that’s to be expected with G-Styles producing the tracks (and a majority of the album). So, while the track doesn’t sound original, Rhema Soul makes it their own with their lyricism. All three emcees come hard with it. You’ll put this one on repeat, if only for Butta P’s flow. “Spotlight” also starts out sounding a lot like Cheno Lyfe’s “Love My Life,” forcing the trio to work hard to establish themselves.
“My Beat Go” is destined to be played in clubs. Period.
Title track “Fingerprints” is the best track on the album. It’s got a big sound, big message, and big presentation by the artists. K-Nuff’s verse is beautifully informed by Butta P’s and Juan Love’s is equally informed by K-Nuff’s verse. The theme of leaving one’s fingerprints on everything we do in life works as a good (near) closer for the project.
With the exception of guest appearances from G-Styles and Eddie Nigma, the trio chose to stand on their album. This makes sense given that they are a group and not a solo artist trying to break the monotony. Add to that the fact that Fingerprints is Rhema Soul’s first nationally released album, presenting yourself to the masses as “just you” seems like a wise move.
Despite the high marks this album gets, the only thing that could use some work is G-Styles’ ability/willingness to differentiate his tracks from tracks he’s produced on other albums. While not everyone will have listened to Rhema Soul’s Fingerprints, Cheno Lyfe’s ‘Home’, DJ Morph’s ‘INTERNATIONAL’, or select songs on several Reach Records projects, anyone who has may run the risk of feeling like they’re listening to recycled beats.
Rhema Soul continues the trend of Southen Florida Christian hip-hop artists who make culturally viable music while simultaneously refusing to compromise Christ or the quality of their sound. Fingerprints is the direction Christian hip-hop is heading. Listeners and artists alike need to sit up and take notice. We need more rap groups that are crossing racial boundaries, socio-economic boundaries, cultural barriers in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in fresh ways with a dying generation.
Label: Good City Music
Release Date: March 30, 2010
2. Neva Lay Low
3. Fly Away
5. Boom Box
6. Let Me Live
7. Sky’s Not the Limit ft. Eddie Nigma
9. Shorty’s Lost ft. G-Styles
10. Why’s It Gotta Be So Hard
11. Blow Your Whistle
12. My Beat Go ft. G-Stlyes
14. I Hope
15. Save Me