Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
Clear Sight Music, BANG! The hard working CEO of Clear Sight Music FLAME, along with a host of others came together to represent Christ in music in the only way that they know how: With 100% of their being.
The author of the book called “Jesus or Nothing”, Dan DeWitt, the dean of Boyce College, where Flame attended, reached out to him to create this album to go along with many of the overarching themes of the book. You can think of it as a kind of soundtrack to the book itself. This is one of only a handful of musical projects that were directly connected to a piece of literature. On top of that, this is a compilation album, with not just Flame but other artists as well. The main objective to the project is to see how coercive the tracks are, from multiple artists with different creative styles, came together to tackle a single topic in their own unique way. Allow me to break down what Jesus or Nothing presents.
The title of this album is Jesus or Nothing, and the great part is that the artists involved with it have a heavily packed repertoire of music filled with references to scripture, Jesus and the like. Nothing changes in this new album as well. With the likes of Flame, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., and Fedel, you get evangelistic verses through most of the project, a minimum of six songs. Much like the book, themes are covered from the sinful/spiritual nature, and the duality of this setup opens up for a lot of creativity in the direction of attack on the issue from the rappers/singers.
Right out of the gate, after a short vocal introduction, we get another Clear Sight Anthem called “King of The World”, with the vocals of V. Rose, MikeREAL, Nico Wells, and KB. The song is hype, easy to learn, and it kicks off the album with an energy of a praise party concert. Then in typical Flame fashion, we’re hit with a head-nodding trap song with Fedel all about Jesus’ sovereignty and how He has changed their lives. “God in the Flesh” is a great song which gets to the essence of who Jesus is into your head as a hook.
Flame is usually evangelism-minded, in that he wants people to get a clear understanding of who this God is that he’s rapping about whenever they play a track, and this song is no different. he same can be said about “All Burns Down”, which is a clear and transparent plea for everyone to acknowledge God’s love and accept Jesus into their heart 100%. It is a plea for any Christian who desires to see their loved ones saved has either prayed or said at one time in their life.
One thing I appreciated about this album was its balance between the two viewpoints of saved and unsaved. The album is filled with more songs on the Jesus side, but there are a handful of songs that address the world’s misconception that earthly treasures can fulfill them in any way. Their approach wasn’t in a patronizing manner either. You can feel how they want to connect to those who are controlled by the world’s misconception and reach out to them. While the energy of the album took a dip coming from “King of the World” to “What You Mean, then to “The Immortals” (by MikeREAL), you hear what he is saying in the song, and you can forgive the energy loss. It’s drilled in over and over that the world’s treasures amount to nothing. Flame and Nico Wells offer another testimony of fulfillment through Jesus in “Quest”, showing how they themselves were once out in the world, searching for relevance in money and cars.
The project closes with arguably the most powerful song on the album with MikeREAL and Json rapping about the life of a father and son of a broken family in “Carry Me”. The song is just so real and relevant. Json has always been a brilliant storyteller, and he perfectly paints a picture in the song that we can all see how these types of circumstances contribute to the detriment of our society. This is the physical representation of the results of the “Nothing”, which directly contrasts to the hope in Jesus that Clear Sight Music and others have clearly displayed.
After a few listens, this album really grew on me. There were three songs that really stood out as excellent tracks, each for a different reason. As I just spoke about, “Carry Me” is a powerful song built off of storytelling, and it is just compelling to listen to. “Houses and Cars” with Flame and MikeREAL is a hype song that goes off of the concept of Oprah’s famous episode where she gives everyone in her audience a car. It also talks about how God doesn’t owe us anything and how people expect financial gain from God, instead of being solely satisfied in Him.
The third song, which I believe is the one that stood out the most, is “Threw It All Away”, sung by V. Rose. It falls right in the middle of the album and gives us a break from the hip hop with an EDM track. It showed both sides of Jesus and Nothing, with it being the before and after of living the wrong way, coming to the realization that a Savior is needed, and living a life for him after that moment. I thought it was a perfect song, melodically, vocally, and topically.
This Clear Sight Compilation album was clearly about the Nothing that the treasures of this world possesses and the Jesus that fulfills all the hurts, pains, gaps, and feelings that have ever existed. The four vocal interludes within the project give great exposition to the topics of Nihilism, the significance of life, the hope in something, and the “Anti-nothing”. The project has high replay value and the content is good for any Christian, whether new or older in the faith.