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Album Review: Collision Records – WLAK (We Live As Kings)

wlak album review we live as kings

Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.

Over the past year no label or artist has made as much noise in Christian Hip-Hop as Collision Records. They are everywhere, and with good reason. They exploded onto the scene about this time last year with Swoope’s classic offering “Wake Up.” From there we were introduced to Alex Faith and Christon Gray, and their stellar projects “Honest 2 God” and “Body Art.” By this time Collision Records was becoming a household name. Then they signed Dre Murray late last year, and that took the label to a whole new level. Shortly after, they announced their new album We Live As Kings would release March 2013 and dropped a stunning single “Imagine,” which created a Reach Records type of anticipation to their upcoming project.

With the Collision Records star shining as bright as ever, they release their highly anticipated album WLAK. This is a tough environment for Collision to drop their group album, because anticipation is always tricky to deal with. It can either elevate you to super-stardom or drop you completely off of everyone’s radar. Fans of the record label probably don’t feel the latter because of the stellar resume that the label has built over the past year. They shouldn’t because Collision Records is a fantastic record label. It’s ran by solid brothers and it’s artists are equally as solid. So with a strong label and top notch artists, WLAK promises to exceed everyone’s high expectations.

One Thing That Surprised Me

Like most fans of CHH I have listened to a lot of music from Collision over the past year, so I didn’t think there was anything they could do that would surprise me. I was wrong. WLAK had beautiful continuity and chemistry. I was surprised by this simply because it is hard to do. Groups can work together for years trying to get great chemistry. In less than a year, Collision has developed a level of  chemistry like that of a seasoned group.

Chemistry is easily the most important aspect of a group album. If a group doesn’t have good chemistry, it’s very noticeable and can bring down the whole record. In the same way, great chemistry can elevate an album. WLAK was elevated by that chemistry. Each song flowed well and nothing seemed forced. They worked together to create a sound and direction for the entire album. It wasn’t about individual performances, but about working together to make art. They used each artists’ specific skill set beautifully on this record. All of those things aided in making this record great.

Two Things That Made WLAK Special

Collision Records is a special record label. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen in CHH. There are several things that make them special but there are two that have always stuck out to me, and continued to stick out to me on WLAK. That is their lyricism and creativity. There are a lot of strong lyricists and creative artists in CHH, but none combine the two with the excellence that Collision has. Those same things that make the label special, made WLAK special.

Collision is made up of four of the strongest lyricists in all of CHH. Individually Alex Faith, Christon Gray, Dre Murray and Swoope have all made noise because of their lyrical prowess. They all brought their A games for this album. Each artist will leave you with multiple jaw dropping moments. The double entendres and metaphors that fans have come to expect and love were also on display. The album was also incredibly deep lyrically. There is enough theology on here for a bible college student, but it’s cleverly matched with the application so you never get overwhelmed. Lyrically this record is nothing short of amazing.

Collision isn’t just made up of some of CHH’s best lyricists, they also carry some of CHH’s most creative artists as well. That creativity shined all throughout WLAK. It’s most seen in the song making. Each track is like it’s own individual experience. Almost like a movie, each track pulls you in, and you’re with them in that moment. It then builds to a climax that will leave you speechless, and by the end of the track you are begging for more. Those small experiences then turn into one fantastic experience by albums end. This experience is created through amazing production and each artists’ individual ability to fit what they do to the song. There is versatility in sound, flow and some clever lyricism that showcases their dynamic creativity.

One Thing I Wish I Would Have Heard More Of

There weren’t many missteps on WLAK, it was pretty much a perfect album. I enjoyed listening to every second of it. But there was one thing that I wish I would have heard more of, and that is Christon Gray rapping. He did a lot of singing throughout the record but he only had a few appearances as an MC. One of the times that he blessed us with his MC skills was on the track “Broken Kings,” where he spit this gem:

“We’ve been battling ourselves like forever/ dog fight, jackals with their tails tied together

all types of Christian churches and world views/ but what about the church that the world views

they see a perils voyage into/ the dead sea with some pear-less oysters”

This is exactly why I love him as an MC, but there wasn’t as much of this as I hoped there would be on this record.

Chris is an insanely talented MC with a lyrical ability that is matched only by a few. I was hoping to see him take that talent and run it instep with his label-mates more often than just a few times on a 13 track album. However unfortunate that was for me not to hear it, it still wasn’t all in all a bad thing. Chris is just as talented a singer and song maker, as he is a rapper. He also provided exactly what each song needed with his singing ability. Chris had a phenomenal performance on WLAK. But because I’m a fan of Christon Gray the MC, I wish I could have heard a little more of that.

WLAK a Classic?

I don’t want to be the guy that goes around calling everything an “Instant Classic” after a few listens. Classics are built up over time, because a lot can change as time goes by. So I’m not going to call WLAK a classic right now, but I will say that this record does deserve to have that question asked about it. WLAK has all the makings of a classic album, the only thing left to do is wait. If their prior music is any indication then we won’t have to wait long to add WLAK to the classic list.

Question

Do you think that WLAK is a classic?

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Aubrey McKay has a strong passion and love for CHH, and he uses that to write album reviews for Wadeoradio.com. He is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland Florida. He currently resides in Lakeland and teaches middle school. Twitter: @ajmckay24

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