Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
An eyewitness is a person who has personally seen something happen and so can give a first-hand description of it. The testimony of an eyewitness can completely alter the course of a case. Their personal testimony will trump a lot of the alleged allegations. With that being said, Evangel’s latest album Eyewitness Encounters attempts to do just that with many different stories from the Bible. He takes familiar passages in the Bible and raps them from the main character’s perspective to bring out the truth.
Prior to this album, I admit that I knew of Evangel, but I did not listen to him like that. I remembered hearing him on Shai Linne’s Storiez project and DJ Official’s Entermission project. On both albums, he was featured on some of my favorite songs. I knew he could rap so I was anxious to see what he was going to to do with Eyewitness Encounters. In this album review, I want to share what I experienced first-hand.
What I Got From The Witnesses
First off, I have to say that this kind of album is a personal favorite of mine. I like when an artists takes on a character in the Bible and tries to rap from their perspective. Shai Linne’s Storiez and Swoope’s Spring Fling come to mind. It takes much tact, scriptural knowledge and lyrical skill to tackle this kind of an album. I personally love these first-hand perspective flows because it keeps me on my toes. I have to know the Bible in order to see how accurate the lyrics are.
Evangel did an amazing job with his story telling. I’d list all the songs that he did well on, but I believe he told the story well on all the tracks. He even would have little moments where he’d drop scripture context within the rhyme. He says this in “Nicodemus”
“Opened up my mind to its stink end, he said ‘Truly, Truly’ two times so it sinks in.”
That part was not in the scripture, but God’s emphasis on words is all throughout many commentaries. I just loved this. I personally feel this is a skill that very few MCs possess. Many people can find words that rhyme. There are not as many that can take on a character in a passage of scripture, accurately portray the scriptures, all while adding their on personal MC flare. I appreciated this much from Evangel.
Almost all of the tracks were from the New Testament during the life of Jesus. He rapped as a person that was in the boat with Jesus during the storm (Mark 4:35-41). He rapped as Philip, The woman at the well, Nicodemus and more. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the album because he made it so relatable. I could see myself straight tripping if was in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm. It was the simple, relatable parts of this album that encouraged me most.
What I Witnessed
Now that I have gotten the content out of the way, lets talk about the music and feel of the album.
I personally did not enjoy many of the beats on this album. It definitely has the classic boom-bap feel to it. The content outshines the production by far. On certain tracks, I endured a bad beat simply because I liked the story. This definitely hurt the album. It makes it hard for the listener to want to share the music with others. I know that if I think something sounds bad, I will not share it with a friend. I think some of the content on this album will get looked over due to a poor beat.
This is important to me because a beat is often what reels a listener in. I witnessed many great songs with a beat that seemed to only serve the boom-bapper’s ear. I think many of his fans will love this album. I feel that his content and skill can go far beyond the demographic that he seems to rap for. That is why it bothers me. I know it’s simply a preference issue, but I love when music can out kick it’s coverage and reach people it never thought it would.
I also witnessed sub-par choruses. Like the beat, the chorus is another vital part of a song. It is often what the listener gets stuck in their head. On Eyewitness Encounters, I found myself just waiting for the chorus to end so that I could get to the next verse. This says to me that the artist cares much about the content but not as much about the packaging. Not all of the choruses were bad, but many were too dull and bland for me.
The Final Ruling
Eyewitness Encounters is a great album for a specific group of people. If you are looking for the mainstream sound, this album is not for you. If you are looking for some lyrical theology along with the vintage Lamp Mode feel, this is for you. I cannot say that this was a bad album because so much of me appreciates the artistry and skill that goes into crafting such detailed verses. I personally feel that Evangel is gifted with the skill to use hip hop to tell stories. He even tells a story of his mom at the end that pulls tightly at the emotions of the listener. My love for lyrical art had me in awe and frustrated at the same time. I liked the content a lot, but I was not the biggest fan of the music. Overall, I will say this was a good project. I’ll put it on my “when I’m in the mood for…” list.
Do you agree with this Album Review? What did you like about the Eyewitness Encounters?