No Ordinary Love might not excel in lyricism, but it makes up for this with innovative music, heart, and well placed guest appearances. Rawsrvnt (pronounced: Raw Servant) may be an average emcee but he is an incredible artist. The songs on this album have so many instrumental and vocal parts that you might forget you are listening to a hip hop artist. There are no simple loop based beats here, instead you find very complex, well thought out music, complete with electric guitars and background vocals. These elements are all used greatly and go a long way in making up for the average rhymes.
The title track No Ordinary Love is a solid remake of the Sades song of the same name. Here you find Rawsrvnt laying his soul bare for listeners as he reflects on the beauty of God, redemption, and his own role in the crucifixion of Christ. These verses are complimented by the amazing voice of songstress Lisa McClendon whose presence really takes this track to the next level. Rawsrvnt should definitely be commended for pursuing the royalty rights to remake this iconic and Grammy award winning song. Somehow it seems No Ordinary Love was always meant to be a love song, sung to God, and as the opening song it sets a great tone for the album.
Rawsrvnt describes his music as “Hip Hop Worship” and it’s easy to see why. The songs on this album intentionally create an atmosphere for hearts to encounter God. A good example of this is Holiness and Here I Am to Worship, which are his Hip Hop interpretations of the two popular Contemporary Christian songs. Not only are these songs done well, but they might actually connect with listeners even more than the original versions. These are only two of several tracks on this album which might get more play in your quiet time than in your gym time, something that is not typically stated of a rap album.
Dont get it confused though, this album is not just bass heavy ballads for God; there are more than enough uptempo songs to keep your head happily nodding. One of the best of these is Jesus Jam, which is a joyful ode to celebrating life to Christ centered music. Even in the midst of this festive song, you hear his heart for the lost in lines like, “it dont even matter if youre young or youre old/ truth gotta be told to your zipcode.”
Where No Ordinary Love excels it does so because of Rawsrvnts distinct voice (both rapping and singing), solid flow, and memorable hooks. It also doesnt hurt that he enlisted the assistance of New York emcee Sean Slaughter on the songs Be With You and Bow Down. With his usual brash rhyme style Slaughter offers two excellent verses contributing much needed lyricism and wit to this project. Ring That is the only truly disappointing song found on the album. The bland chorus urges cell phone users Jesus is my Savior ring that on ya cell phone! Encouragement to be bold about your faith is always greatly appreciated; songs made after 2008 making mention of ringtones, however, is not.
With all this said, the most impressive thing about this album is surprisingly not the music. In “On Fire” Rawsrvnt says “my passion goes deeper than rap / it goes deeper than the kick drum and the hi-hats.” More than almost any artist I have heard over the last few months I can tell this is true of him. This authentic and transparent love is not only encouraging to see, but is also a great reminder that we are called to love God, not just facts about Him. With his fifth studio album Rawsrvnt does a great job of urging believers to fall more in love with the Creator of the universe. He does this without making use of elaborate rhyme schemes or complex metaphors, and maybe thats why the message comes through so loud and clear.
Release Date: 3/16/10
1. No Ordinary Love (feat. Lisa McClendon)
2. Jesus Jam
3. Bow Down (feat. Sean Slaughter)
4. On Fire
5. Here I Am to Worship (feat. Audrey Assad)
6. Its True
7. Speak (feat. Bobby Tinsley)
8. The Almighty
9. Holiness (feat. Audrey Assad)
10. Flossin Him
11. Be With You (feat. Sean Slaughter)
12. Ring That
13. No Ordinary Love (feat. Lisa McClendon) [Electrocoustic Mix]