Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
Has anyone had a bigger impact on CHH over the past year and a half other than Collision Records? I don’t think so. Everything they have done has turned to gold, since signing Swoope and releasing his critically acclaimed record “Wake Up.” They’ve signed some of the best-hidden talent in Christian Hip-Hop. They then took that talent and put out great record after great record.
Collision surprised the CHH world late last year when they announced the signing of Dre Murray. That surprise gave way quickly to excitement though. CHH was buzzing about matching the crazy talented Dre Murray with the crazy talented Collision Records, and what they would be able to do together.
Fans didn’t have to wait long to see what would happen because shortly after the signing, Collision dropped “Imagine” and showed the level of greatness they are capable of. Earlier this year Dre gave a spectacular performance on the classic group album “WLAK,” which took Dre from underground artist to household name.
All of this, coupled with the five years since his last full-length album, “Manumit,” has created a world of anticipation for Dre’s new album Gold Rush: Maybe One Day, that few artists have had to face in CHH. So with this level of expectation and anticipation is it possible that Dre could deliver and album that will satisfy?
The First Thing That Stood Out
The first thing that stood out on this record seems to be the obvious selection; it was the production. This stood out to me because it was nothing short of amazing. I was blown away from what I heard. The production on Gold Rush: Maybe One Day set the table for Dre and what he was doing beautifully.
There was good versatility and mix in sound, but that wasn’t what really stood out. The production on this record went way past just beats. It was crisp, clear and brought the whole level of the album up. The production brings the listener in and makes this whole record experiential. That makes it easier to focus on Dre because you feel the beautiful production. Even though it was phenomenal it didn’t steal the show from Dre, it was the perfect addition to what he was doing.
It’s hard to deny how gifted Dre Murray is behind the mic. He is a lyrical monster, and that is exactly what you get on Gold Rush: Maybe One Day. He lyrically destroys each track. But much like the production, Dre’s performance was much more than his bars.
Dre’s presence is strong and he demands the listener’s attention just with his flow. As soon as he begins to rap, you tune everything else out and focus on him. Being the artist that Dre is, he tailored his flow and tone specifically to the track and point he is trying to get across. That makes listening to this record easy and more importantly, it brings the record to life. If you can feel the production, then you see Dre’s rhymes. When you put those two together you have a special record that is unlike most albums you’ll ever hear.
Being a guy who loves concepts, I would be remiss if I didn’t speak on the concept of Gold Rush: Maybe One Day. I loved the idea and direction Dre took. I could see a clear direction and most of the record fit into his direction. The only seemingly pedestrian track was “Gray Tape,” and that was the last track, so it didn’t kill the overall concept. The concept wasn’t some groundbreaking idea that I had never heard before, but that’s not what I was looking for. I just look for a direction, something that I can focus my mind on while I am listening. That is exactly what Dre gave me and he stuck with it throughout the entirety of the record.
For full disclosure, I must say that I don’t think that I have fully grasped the whole concept yet. It’s not that I don’t understand what he was saying or doing, but I think that it was a bit more complex (or layered) than it appears. Essentially, it is a living record, which means that it grows with time. Listeners will be getting things (and possibly different things) from this album for a long time to come. That in it of itself makes this record, and more directly the concept, very special, because a lot of times albums get old but if you continually get new things from the record, it stays fresh.
This is always interesting when it comes to Dre, because generally he isn’t a Christocentric MC. So the debate usually comes down to his content and if it was “spiritual” (for lack of a better word) enough. That will probably continue to be the conversation with Gold Rush: Maybe One Day, but before that starts, I think it’s important to look at a couple of things.
The first being the artist in question; Dre Murray. As I stated before, he never has been a Christocentric MC, so why would we expect to see that on this record. Dre did what Dre does on this record, which is telling stories from a different (or the other) perspective. Dre tells a lot of first person narratives in his rhymes, which is dope because it brings the story to life and makes it real. It’s incredibly difficult to continually pull off, which he does with ease, and it is also very difficult to essentially lead yourself to Christ, which is what he would be doing. You can offer a solution that will lead you to the ultimate solution, which leads me to my next point.
As my grandma would say, there is more than one to skin a cat. Do you have to offer the cross on every track to lead someone to Christ? I would say no. I have definitely grown in this thought, but I think that you can offer the solution to one’s problem that will ultimately lead one to the ultimate solution. This is what I get from Dre. He connects with the listener and shows his understanding for their struggle. He then offers a solution (or the flaw in that lifestyle or thought process). That solution will then lead that person to find where he got that solution. No one way of doing things is perfect, but I think that this way of doing things fits well with what Dre did on this record, and made for great art.
Prisoner of the Moment?
I’m just going to come out and say it … Gold Rush: Maybe One Day is a classic. I understand that I can be perceived of being (to quote Skip Bayless) ‘a prisoner of the moment,’ but I believe that this record meets all the criteria of a classic album. It has incredible lyricism and production, great overall album quality, memorable moments, playback value and it has the “it” factor. This album feels different from most other albums. It played to me like a movie, because I could see each story and bar, and the overall storyline. Each track created this epic movie that is Gold Rush: Maybe One Day. All of this creates for a classic album that will be enjoyed for years.
So, do you think I’m being a “prisoner of the moment?” Or would you classify this record as a classic as well?