KB: A Series of Praises Reflecting ‘His Glory Alone’ (Breakdown)
KB has been proclaiming His Glory Alone ever since the Tampa rapper started his rap career. Thus his most recent album’s title and content should come as no surprise to listeners. The entirety of the album is filled with ballads of worship to the Almighty. While there are traditional bangers we’ve come to expect from KB, nearly half the album includes new takes on worship tracks combined with the bass-heavy trap sound and fast-paced lyrics. This eclectic mix of Christian hip-hop, worship, and contemporary Christian elements is further diversified as KB brings Latin sounds and Spanish bars on “Libre” and “Si Canción.”
When asked about this musical melting pot on our new show Pen Game 101, KB told our team, “[e]very album I make I try to essentially make it the reflection of who I am…I just sort of try to turn myself inside out on the album.” By combining hip-hop, worship, and Spanish elements, KB has given us an album that best represents his unique personhood. These are the sounds of KB’s heart playing in our ears, all directed towards and showcases the glory of the God who inspired it all.
Let it Reign (ft. Bizzle) – My God, my God, it’s all on You/Your throne won’t end, Your crown won’t move/Come Yahweh, reign over all
“Let it Reign” is an incredible opening of a grandiose scale. Even the song’s title screams of the rulership of God, modifying Michael W. Smith’s 2001 track, “Let It Rain,” with a phonetically identical sound but different meaning. The track includes lyrics like, “[e]very nation’s anthem will have to kneel to Hosanna,” and “[n]ever waited for endorsement/[n]ever cared about a Forbes list when you got God as your portion.” While much of the world obsesses over the glory of their nation, or that of self in amassing riches, KB and collaborator Bizzle exclusively give “[a]ll glory to the Most High.”
Lil Boy – Man at the door, go somewhere, play with your toys/[w]e saw your Porsche, uh/[a]ward you no points, I should clap ’cause you flex on the poor?
“Lil Boy” is a critique of many artists’ frivolous lifestyles, but one wrought with wisdom for growth. All at once, the track addresses financial literacy, respect for women, and KB’s commitment to God, all pointing to a broader picture of manhood. Of course, the Southside Rabbi cohost has also taken a particular interest in boxing, which he briefly alludes to with the line, “[y]ou can be Floyd, I’d rather go be Du Bois.”
Of course, this line could just be an allusion to KB’s preference for discourse over physical conflict, but Floyd Mayweather also had a slick fighting style, where he constantly avoided getting hit while dishing out punishment when given a chance. W.E.B. Du Bois was a different beast entirely, using scholarship and boldness to empower his people.
Based both on previous comments KB made to us and the line, “I’m teaching my boys,” these lessons are meant to be not only for KB’s audience but his sons KBJ and Keanu. KB is all about setting the best example possible for each of his children, his newborn daughter taking center stage on another track off His Glory Alone.
10K – “Worship in a moshpit, I’m in His palm like the tropics”
Another fresh take on a classic piece of worship, “10K” interpolates Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” a favorite among CCM fans. The song celebrates Christ’s victory over death and suffering, serving as KB’s declaration that his every breath will be used to glorify God. The Tampa rapper is also well-aware of Jesus’s eternal victory, proclaiming, “I think He king, reigning supreme…” While some may think KB’s faith trivial, calling it “sweet” or even laughing at the artist, he knows, “I will be doing it (laughing) last.”
This Is Life – This little light of mine, oh, ooh, I know you…/All of your life is borrowed, all of your glory’s borrowed/Here today, gone tomorrow
“This Is Life” is quite literally, a reflective track. While KB is fully aware he has achieved measures of success with his career, he submits his own success and achievements to God’s glory. This theme is affirmed by the interpolation of Hillsong UNITED’s “So Will I (100 Billion X),” which sings of works of nature bowing to God’s sovereignty. KB is just one such work of creation. Knowing this, he reminds listeners, “…I don’t wanna be your idol… I don’t really need your title.” While fame will certainly provide pleasures and influence to KB, these are gifts from God he will pour back into praise, which he asserts with the line, “[t]ell ‘em all what my name is/[f]or the name that I came with/[w]e don’t wanna be famous… they’ll remember me for Your greatness.”
Armies – “Oh vanity, Satan try to cancel me/I don’t fear your plan for me”
“Armies” is somewhere between a worship record, hip-hop anthem, and war song. It interpolates Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies),” but brings a far more aggressive tone to the concept. KB outright invites Satan and other evils’ challenge, knowing full well the ultimate power fights on the rapper’s behalf; thus, victory is already won. In the presence of “…my God and angel army,” there is “no rival, no virus…” or any other challenge that poses a threat.
Masterpiece – “There’s nothin’ that you have to be/Already, you’re a masterpiece”
“Masterpiece” is KB’s first song dedicated to his daughter Nala, born at the start of 2020. The first verse of the song is a callback to 2015’s “Find Your Way,” where KB questioned the notion of women being forced into fitting any particular appearance, affirming their worth by stating, “[y]ou’re a masterpiece, not a piece to be mastered…/[y]ou are not a side you’re the Master’s piece.”
While “Find Your Way” succeeds in sending a message of empowerment for women in general, “Masterpiece” brings a personal touch that can only be provided by a parent with a daughter. KB’s heart is one such that he would live out such true things that if Nala ever deals with feelings of self-doubt, pain, or confusion, she will “…let [him] be [her] guide,” his songs letting her see, “who [she] is through [her] father’s eyes.”
Libre (ft. Tommy Royale) – “Call in the ball and the chain, that’s cool/Throw away the key, I’m glad I be locked into you”
“Libre” is a Spanish term meaning free, a concept KB flips on its head in rapping about the one woman he remains tied to, his wife. While there are those “…chasin’ models…your boy got a home.” Many men have become obsessed with their partner’s appearance, their sex drive being the sole focus, but KB found a wife he could grow old with, just as one can spend a lifetime in their ideal home. Naturally, because KB is human, temptation still emerges, which KB personified by stating, “…I’m knockin’ for you/[l]ike what you missin’? I got options for you.” Nonetheless, sin may have its appeal, but KB’s been freed of this form of attack, as he states, “[t]his is a reminder for you, mira, yo soy libre.”
Tommy Royale brings a different message to the song, focusing on battles with anxiety and depression, and the liberation God brings to those who trust Him. He also alludes to South African civil rights activist Nelson Mandela and the inability of his struggles to stop his fight. Tommy ends his verse with a declaration that would have been fit for “Armies.” Translated, Tommy states, “[t]he spirit that fills me is not one of sorrow, it is one of war.”
Yes Song – “You know when you can’t discern if life is a sentence or purpose”
“Yes Song” is reminiscent of the balance between lament and hope that is often represented in the Psalms. The opening verse is a complete leap of faith, as KB sings, “I count on one thing/The God that never fails/Will not fail me now/He won’t fail me then/And I know that I can’t bear this/But the Almighty is all I need.” The track then moves into a chorus of praise where KB states he will “bless [God’s] name,” building on the cry of glory that drives this album.
While “Yes Song” is filled with lyrics of reverence, KB does not ignore the realities of pain, instead, begging God to “[t]urn [KB’s] tremble to [His] tempo.” He may be shaking in fear, but KB is well aware that even his anxiety can be used to reveal the glory of God, but only in His timing. This theme is built upon in KB’s statement, “I cannot see behind the curtain/He might be workin’…” Because he is only human, the Tampa rapper can only see his life events in the moment, not the larger picture God sees, just like an audience member at a theater performance. Until the day of restoration, there will be suffering, but until then, KB will “…be singing in this pit, Lord.”
Dark Skin (ft. Black Violin) – “Yes, I love America, but heaven is the standard/Nations come and go, but His glory can’t be damaged,”
Of course, COVID-19 has been heavy on everyone’s mind in 2020, but the realities of racial injustice and the unrest that has followed the killings of several Black and Brown people this year have been equally potent. “Dark Skin” balances righteous anger with belief in the “God that can mend us.” KB also expands the listener’s perspective beyond the racial disputes that have become all too common in the United States to colorism that exists in other cultures, with allusions to “Asian folks [struggling] with the skin that ain’t fair enough,” “skin-bleaching cream,” and a stunning image of “…[KB’s] daughter/[t]ryna scrub the black off her skin underwater.”
Colorism and racism do indeed cast a shadow over “Dark Skin” and millions of lives worldwide, but the hope is not lost. KB draws a parallel between the chaos of these evils and the disciples caught in a storm as Jesus rested, but reminds us all, “[t]he boat can’t be sunk when Jesus is sleepin’ on it.” This track is also a scathing critique of the Church, with KB delivering lines like, “[i]nvest in your neighbor, not conspiracies/[h]ow you politicize the mouth of the reverend?/[a]in’t a left or a right side up in heaven…” Particularly as we draw near to the 2020 election, thousands, if not millions of Christians have become deeply entrenched in politics this season, but as KB says, “[n]ations come and go, but His glory can’t be damaged.”
His Glory Alone is an album made for this moment, meeting the present circumstances with cries of worship, even amid the anguish. Based on the reception to the album, KB is far from finished achieving success and gaining numbers. Still, the Tampa rapper has never made music for himself alone. As the world continues to seemingly devolve into more chaos, the Southside Rabbi co-host remains focused vertically arranged. He will continue to reflect the glory of his Creator through each medium he is able to work through. No matter if his song is one of praise, lament, something in between, or both, KB has learned to never stop singing.
Interested in our initial thoughts of His Glory Alone? Check out the Bar Exam here.
Check our interview KB and review of His Glory Alone on Pen Game 101 below.