Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
For those who follow Christ, one of the burning messages within our hearts towards unbelievers is often “time is running out before Christ comes back for His bride!” For Devin Turner, once he gave his life to Christ in high school, he has been championing the cause ever since. From leading bible studies to being a lead pastor, Devin has drawn much inspiration from his own life to explain to others that it’s imperative to give your life to Christ while you still can. With his debut album, the message continues.
Now or Never, released through Turner’s media company Disciples Thru Media, is an album that speaks both to the heart of his ministry, the struggle that shaped him as a man of God today, and a message of hope for those who may share in his pains. We will take a look at what makes this album so relatable.
The album title Now or Never is both a reference to salvation and Devin’s own salvation experience. Having a past with being picked on/suicidal, and hanging with the wrong crowd despite a Christian upbringing, Devin Turner had to make a serious decision about where his life was headed during his sophomore year of high school. It was literally “now or never” for him. Transparency and openness are great vehicles for embellishment on an album concept, which creates a natural bed for songs that connect with the listener on a personal level.
Devin first lays out who he is and his mission in the intro track “Bottom Line.” He is about preaching Christ, seeing souls saved through Jesus Christ, and dispelling the lie that worldly treasures will satisfy you. Devin speaks directly to the absurdity of mainstream hip hop culture in the song “Imitatin’”, firing directly at the music that glorifies sinful lifestyles that all lead to hell. This topic is immediately followed up by “Truth Serum”, a song that can be adequately described as a presentation of the hard truth of what The Gospel means for the believer and unbeliever.
The next phase of the project uses the concept of “Now Or Never” with Christ through testimonies of his past. Devin opens up about his adolescent years, battling with identity issues and suicide, in the song that’s properly titled “End Of My Rope” featuring SPZRKT. The project also speaks about his current situation. Both “Dark Skin Poesy” and “East Of The River”, featuring Shyne On Me, are commentaries of the racial and economic situations of his current home of DC, and how it feels to be both black and a Christian in that city. With tensions the way they are, Devin gets descriptive as to what he sees on his streets, and uses these examples as further evidence that we need Jesus in order to survive in this world. Devin also talks about how we need to reach unbelievers with the love of Christ in the song called “Light?”.
Throughout Now Or Never, there was both a musical and contextual progression. The concept of choosing Christ went from presenting what accepting Christ is and what it entails, to describing what it will be like if you don’t accept him, to giving reasons why you should choose him. As the topics shifted, the styles of the tracks shifted as well.
The first two tracks that began the album were pretty much your standard hip hop beats of today – something you could nod your head to go along with what Devin is saying. But as the topic shifted in “Truth Serum”, we get a more southern and soulful backing track. From his testimony in “End of My Rope”, to the contemplative song “Light?”, to the woman-uplifting song “Butterfly”, and the intensely composed song about the urban narrative in DC “East Of The River”, the shift in music matched the change in topics. Devin did a good job of matching song topics to the emotion of the track behind him.
The way that this continued through the album created an expectancy of synergy. By the time I was six songs into the project, I was anticipating how Devin would fuse his lyrics with the music. It became a natural draw to the next song that was going to play. This is what an album should do – make you look forward to how the next song is going to impact you. If there was any bump in the project, I would say that “Act A Fool”, an upbeat track about being hype for Christ featuring Danni Iriana, was unexpected. It felt like it was added to the album to lighten the mood a bit, but this ended up making it feel a bit out of place. But with that song aside, you can easily flow with this album from start to finish.
In a world where we are consistently having debates about what artists within CHH should be titling themselves, I believe that Devin Turner’s album Now Or Never puts him in a category that he has no problem associating himself with. His life is ministry, and it is evident in this album. It is refreshing to hear music that is evangelistic in nature, after such a wave of music that seems to be more about the art of music than Christ-directed messages. Devin wrote from the heart, allowing his own personal journey with the Lord to fill the album with passion. As one who has a similar passion of sharing my life with others as an evangelism tool, I could relate to a lot of what Devin Turner was saying in this album. If you enjoy music that will have you reminiscing on what the Lord has done for you, this album will resonate with you.
Devin Turner’s album Now or Never is now available for purchase on iTunes.