Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
I came across CJ King’s music about a year ago through his Soundcloud music page. I loved his style of rap and delivery because I was able to understand everything he was saying, as well as relate to the lyrics. The upside to the music page was that it made me anticipate more of his work. So, when his album officially released, I was excited to hear what new music he had been working on.
The single, “SWRVN”, proved to be an instant hit for CJ as it earned a spot in the One Accord DJ Alliance Top 10 list for 5 months in a row; as well as airplay on several well known radio shows across the country.
When I hear the term “swerve”, I think about the act of avoiding someone or completely dodging a conversation. The single for CJ’s album SWRVN confirmed my version of the definition, but he took it a step further to not just avoid someone else but to actually avoid the old version of himself. The concept of the album, from my perspective, is to swerve worldly views; to swerve anything that brings separation from God or that may interfere with our Christian walk.
The intro to the album gives a smooth melodic vibe that just feels good when you hear it. It caught my attention and made me excited to hear the rest of the album. The second song on the project is completely opposite of the first track, but in all of the right ways. “Good Day” is an upbeat, quick paced song, which immediately became one of my favorite tracks on the album. The lyrics to the song reflect the daily struggles we all can relate to from being short on money with a lot of bills to pay or someone bringing drama around you. However, the song brings a positive outlook to the problems of life and mentions that we are not in this life alone.
CJ “swerves” several stigmas in each track on the album, one being the idea that a man cannot love one woman and openly show appreciation for her. In a culture full of derogatory songs towards woman and others ideas on relationships, CJ brings a refreshing perspective, that relationships still matter and genuine love still exists. He shares his heart for his wife on the tracks “All I Need” and “About You”.
The unique sound of “Alive” is appreciated because much of CHH has begun to sound the same. This song brings an eclectic sound, with the drums driving the majority of the track. The production of this song differs from the rest of the album, but it mixes in well with the rest of the songs. The track addresses being alive in Christ and having a burning desire to be with Him.
The somber sound of “Sinner Man” brings a feeling of drama and intensity to the album. I thoroughly enjoyed the realness of the song, as it addressed the battle of the flesh to remain consistent in his Christian walk. The song is done is such a way where you can empathize with the lyrics of the song and feel as though you’re not the only one struggling. Another song with a dramatic sound would be “TakeOver”, which mixes violins, horns, a guitar and bass. It’s an acquired sound, but it works well for CJ.
“Oh No” is a good song, but it felt like it gets drowned out by the other really good songs on the project. The message is good and the production of the song seems somewhat simple compared to the rest of the album. The Atlanta native took the album back to his roots with the song “Neva Eva”, as he switched the sound on the album back to the hard hitting bass with a catchy hook, that reminds me of rap songs from the early 2000’s. The song “Be You” is encouraging and shares the importance of being yourself and chasing your dreams. The lyrics play on top of a simple hip hop track, which allows CJ to deliver his message without competing with the production.
The closing track “No More” is a reflective song for listeners. If you’ve ever questioned whether or not God was with you in a situation, then you will relate to this song. The chorus quotes a popular portion of a verse from the Bible that simply states, “Be anxious for nothing.” It’s encouraging and helps you understand that no matter the circumstances, God is always there.
Overall, the lyrics to the album are very relatable and the album gives a personal feel. You don’t just hear the lyrics but you literally experience them as you listen. You’ll feel convicted, encouraged, challenged, and have a sense of peace throughout the album. I appreciate the simplicity of CJ’s lyrics and the ability to follow his message on every song. CJ combines rapping and singing throughout the album and I believe he executed it well. It’s rare to find a rapper and singer that knows when to switch it up.
The only criticism I have of the album, is the change of pace between tracks in the beginning of the it. In certain parts of the album, the tracks would transition from a slow paced song right into an upbeat track, and then back down on the next track. It made it a little difficult to get a consistent vibe on the album but once the sound was more consistent, it made the listening experience much better. I appreciate that CJ didn’t have any features on the album as well. It allows listeners the opportunity to get to know him as an artist and I’m excited to see what CJ King will bring in the future.
SWRVN now available on iTunes.