Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
In our genre, the term “don’t box me in” has been a common theme amongst different camps that want to expand what they do and how they do it. Right now, the hot topic is how artists do rap and who they do it with (secular artists or Christians). The phrase is often used when the artist is explaining they want to do more with their music than reach one particular group of people. However, there have been few that have used that term in regards to the totality of their artistry.
Da’ T.R.U.T.H. is one of those people. He started his own label, Mixed Bag Entertainment, in order to break out of the box. He doesn’t aim to reach a different group of people (although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind that). He wants to help artists that are able to move in multiple worlds musically (Hip hop, R&B, Rock, Reggae) because he has always felt that he loves many different styles and does not want to stick to one. Therefore, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. is trying to show people why its best that he is not boxed in to one type of sound.
Da’ T.R.U.T.H. is so passionate about this that he is dedicating his entire brand to help people that feel the same way he does. The first full-length project from the label is his and it is titled Heartbeat. The project should be able to give people a taste of the “Mixed Bag” sound and let us experience all that Da’ T.R.U.T.H. has to offer musically.
This album review will revolve around what Heartbeat offers to its listeners.
The Mixed Bag Sound
After listening to the interview Da’ T.R.U.T.H. did with DJ Wade-O, I understand that Da’ T.R.U.T.H. wants to be free to do all that he wants artistically. I think that it gives the fans a lot to look forward to.
On Heartbeat, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. gives the listener a glimpse of many different styles. For example, there are songs that sound very pop-ish (“Loud and Clcear” & “Compare”), some with a dash of reggae (“Press” feat. Papa San & Canon), some with the CCM sound (“Promises”), and even the boom pap sound (“Mixed Bag”). I think he did a great job showing his fans all that he is capable of.
This album is full of different sounds and while many may pick and choose from the styles they like most, it did cause the album to have an inconsistent feel. As you listen, the change in the musical style negatively affects the continuity of the project as a whole.
This will probably be an obstacle that they will work through as the label progresses. It isn’t that the songs were bad, they just sounded so different that it could make for an uneven listen.
All throughout Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s career, he has been more than exceptional at communicating his heart to the listeners. On this album, it is no different. He still boldly speaks on righteousness and galvanizes the listeners to stand firm in the fight of faith. He is not afraid to talk about issues that others will not talk about and I love that about him. However, on this project, I noticed something different. His maturity.
On The Whole Truth and Love, Hope and War the listener heard a person that had been through some serious seasons of life with a perspective that can only be brought from being in the fire. Fans were able to glean from the wisdom that he gained during the different seasons in life. On Heartbeat, I appreciated the maturity that he displayed for the genre as a whole.
On “Standing O,” Da’ T.R.U.T.H. spends the entire record shouting out and showing love to many people in our genre. He mentions the current guys and even pays homage to some of the older rappers like Gospel Gangstaz. A song like that displayed his maturity because he chose to not focus on the little differences between all the camps in our genre and instead, focused on the reason many of them do music, for Jesus’s fame.
You could hear that theme all throughout the record. It didn’t sound like he was trying to defend any arguments that may happen within the genre. It was clear that his heart was to remind every Christian doing music that we are on the same team as representatives of Jesus.
Features can be tricky for artists. Sometimes, as a listener, you may just want to hear the artist. Sometimes, you may want to hear how the features add to the album. On this project, the features added to some tracks and took away from others.
For example, on “I Made It” (feat. Black Knight and TC) and Rising Sun (feat. Z.G., TJ Pompeo & Prayz1), it felt as if the features took up most of the track. Their sound overpowered Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s voice. I don’t think the song was bad, they just didn’t feel like they were his. “Rising Sun” may have intended to sound like a group track being that TJ Pompeo and Prayz1 are mixed bag artists, but the track lacked cohesiveness.
And on songs like “Press” and “Loud and Clear (feat. John White of Capital Kings)” the features added to the song. They helped make the song more attractive with different elements. Lecrae added a verse to “Heartbeat” that many will be talking about. He gave the listener his whole thought process (where he was in life and as a believer) on how he writes his rap from the beginning to now. Again, this added to the theme and intent of the song in a wonderful way. These features added to the tracks because they combined their unique flavor without taking over the entire track.
The overwhelming amount of features may have been apart of Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s heart to help give other artists shine. This may or may have not hurt him, depending on who’s listening and how they feel about features.
Overall, this project displays what Da’ T.R.U.T.H. wants to share with his fans. He is a man of many sounds and you could hear that he wanted to explore the freedom he has within his label. Some people are going to like the new music because some of it sounds trendy and fits with what is hot. Some may not like it because they may still be itching for the Da’ T.R.U.T.H. that made The Faith.
This will be a project that fans will have to sit with for a while because at first listen, it can sound a little scattered due to the variety of music on one project. At times it felt like a compilation album and if the listener does not remember that the point of the album is to hear his heartbeat, they will be turned off by the inconsistency.
Da’ T.R.U.T.H. has a lot to live up to because he is a legend in our genre. It is not easy to switch up on people, but he is being true to his creative passion. Whether it is received well or not, you will not be able to say you did not leave without hearing his heartbeat.
Heartbeat is set to be released Tuesday, April 15, and is now available for pre-order on iTunes.