IV Conerly, formerly known as IV His Son, is a name that I had heard before, but not as frequently as others. However, I never think that underexposure means lack of talent. I took the time to listen to his new project The Unknown God and I came to a theory pretty quickly on why I hadn’t heard of him. (Not that I like what I believe the reason is). I will go into that theory later on in the review, but allow me to breakdown what I heard when listening to The Unknown God.
What I liked
The Unknown God is referring to the topic of discussion that the apostle Paul decided to use to spark up conversation with the thinkers at the Areopagus. This is one of the bigger speeches Paul has ever preached, even though it was short in writing (Acts 17:16-34), so this is a meaty point to use for an album topic. I’m a huge fan of rap that unpacks biblical topics effectively and this album does this very well. I loved how the album has multiple skits with Dr. Voddie Baucham, and this allowed for theological breakdown of the mindset of Paul during this occurrence; how it affects our now ministry mindset, and other various points. This benefits the concept immensely for a couple of reasons.
One is that it makes it easier for the regular music listener to understand what IV is talking about in many of his songs, and two, it helps to tie the songs in the album together because Dr. Baucham elaborates on points, which is then followed by songs that are about some of his talking points. Now, like most theology-minded rappers, this album is full of words, topics, and concepts that can be a little heavy for people who aren’t well versed in theology or hermeneutics. And as someone who isn’t specifically encouraged when I hear people starting to discuss theological viewpoints in music, I appreciated how the skits broke down the meaning and intent of IV’s songs.
Like I said earlier, “The Unknown God” unpacks problems that surrounded the entire world of the verses that pertained to Paul’s sermon to the Areopagus very well. While I said that IV’s lyrics were a little theology heavy, the structure of his vocal delivery and song flow weren’t overly complicated. You could see where he was going with his song topics. I loved how IV broke down the world’s problem with idolatry in multiple songs, but specifically in “Unknown God.” I could imagine Paul rapping this song in the Areopagus himself, because it was full of wordplay that wrapped worldview and personal processes with the laws that God himself wrote, much like Paul did (Acts 17:24-31).
As the Apostle Paul brought up topics that he knew the idol worshipers would understand and recognize as things they have thought themselves, all but two to three songs are preambles to the crux of the sermon of reference in Acts 17. It tackled the issues that unbelievers struggle with when faced with the concept of God in songs like “Questions” and “He Knows.” My favorite track on this album has to be “Paradoxes,” which has a great verse from Odd Thomas on it. Besides having a great reggae vibe to it, it’s full of all the things that shouldn’t make sense about the message of Christ – [ to live is Christ, to die is gain; become a fool to be wise; become a child to gain more wisdom] – and the hook is what I imagine the theorists of that day said when they heard Paul speak of Christ’s death and resurrection for the first time. If IV recreated Paul’s evangelical moment of the unknown God in a music video, I think it would be perfect.
The Unknown God is a quality album with some top notch features from the likes of Odd Thomas, shai linne and Eshon Burgundy. While my personal preference to music wasn’t fulfilled in the tracks chosen, they weren’t sub par to the point that I was turned off by the album. It’s a great concept with a topic of discussion that I love to hear. It is theology heavy, so for those Theology Nerds out there, you’re gonna love this one. IV even has a song entitled Theology Nerd on the album, where it seems like he’s just naming reformed theologians throughout the whole song. It seems like this style is IV’s style, and this is my theory of why I haven’t heard of him as much as others:
“Those who rap with a heavier content don’t get as much promo because its just not as popular overall.”
I don’t necessarily like this, but I’ve seen it happen in the past. So, while IV’s unashamed stance at giving deep songs may keep him from getting “top billing” in some arenas, I appreciate his desire to be biblically sound in all that he does. I know when I listen to lyricists, I want to hear some words that are going to make me go back to the Bible and read. And if you’re like me, and enjoy music that peaks your biblical interests, I feel you’re going to enjoy The Unknown God.