Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
The national buzz around this brother has been steadily growing over the past year. After he burst onto the scene with his track, “I’m the Best Rapper Alive”, it caught the attention of many – forcing them to ask the question, “Woah, who is this?!”. The aforementioned person is J. Monty – Georgia based artist who has many talents in other forms of art as well as rapping.
If you have heard a song from him before, you may have different reasons why you enjoy what he does. Some say they like him because he comes from a spiritually conscious angle that isn’t used as widely in CHH these days. Some say they enjoy the sometimes “purposely schizophrenic” rap style that dances over the beat in untraceable ways. But whether these are your reasons or not, one thing is for sure, Monty has a very distinct talent for creating songs.
With his newest LP Second Born, J. Monty was tasked with being creative and not repetitive. Not just for the sake of his artistry, but because his newfound exposure has granted him the opportunity to make an impression on a larger audience more than ever before. So how does he use this opportunity? Allow me to unpack the things that are within Second Born, into the two sections that are presented.
The Meaning of The Second
The first section represented is what “second born” actually means. If you listened to the full interview that DJ Wade-O had with J. Monty, he speaks about how he is the second born child in his family. He grew up doing things that weren’t the best idea, but that’s not where he plants his anchor in this album. You see, the other meaning of the second born has more of a spiritual connotation to it that directly relates to J. Monty’s life.
Once again in the interview with Wade-O, J. Monty describes how he heard this preacher, Bishop Dale Bronner, describing how Jesus was sent to save us as the second born Adam, as well as various second-born people in the Bible paralleled how the second was sent as salvation for us. Monty shows how this came about from track 1 “So High”, a song that feels like an ethereal description of how it was when he first made the decision to give it all to Jesus, to the second track – a skit called “Late For Church”.
This skit lays the foundation for the entire album because it plainly describes theologically where J. Monty is coming from in the songs that aren’t an introspective look into his past. You can hear how this sermon stuck with J. Monty’s own life experiences, both as a Christian and as the second born child. The next track, “Second Born” is like a second intro track after J’s transformation – speaking about how his life may not have been perfect in the past, but because of his second born status, Christ is transforming him into someone better than he used to be.
Monty doesn’t run from who he used to be either. Like how in “Come For Me”, he speaks of the misconceptions he used to hold about who God was, and how those misconceptions shaped his worldview and actions. His battles with suicidal thoughts, how he dabbled in troublesome activities, and what it took for him to get to Christ. And even in his temporary frustrations with the world’s setup, we get a really cool ‘Job conversation’ between him and God in the song “I Am”, which gives an illustration of how Monty’s life is always redirected to the truth of Christ’s sovereignty amongst this broken world.
The Power of The Second
The second section of the album represents the power that comes from connection with the second born. You should know that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. But there is power to do even more than that once you connect with Christ. In J. Monty’s lyrics, you can hear that love and appreciation for Jesus’ power, and his energized zeal to see satan’s kingdom destroyed in every facet of this world. With this energy, you get a really cool amalgamation of the spiritually charged lyrics that CHH used to have an abundance of, and the new rap styles that you hear in today’s music.
There is no greater example of this than in the marathon of bars that is “100 Bars pt. 3”. This song is filled with great themes of attacking the enemy with God’s power, true freedom in Jesus, unveiling Satan’s lies to the world, and much more. Plus, Monty flows seamlessly through every beat change like it was as easy as washing his hands.
Continuing with the power theme, you’ve got “Heavenly Army” – a battle song for the soldiers on God’s frontline. It has a driving theme that can easily get into your head, but that’s not a bad thing either. It’s all about having a soldier’s mindset when living for Christ, ready to war for the King whenever necessary.
There is a funny Mr. Rogers-spoof-skit called “Mr. Monty” that leads into the only song that could be considered hype – “Goin Uppa”. It’s a song that has a serious concept to it – speaking about moving forward and upward, despite the people around you who are trying to drag you down – but you can tell that J. Monty used this song to have some lyrical fun by the antics you hear in the song.
The album wraps up with “The Martyrs”, a tribute song of sorts to those in the Faith who have gone before us. Topically, it’s a focus of where J. Monty used to be, where he could’ve been, and how he is determined to live because of what Jesus did for him, in the attempt to save someone else from the hell he knows he deserved. It makes you wanna worship and pour a little juice out for the homies.
Second Born is a great project. If you want something to turn up to, then no, this isn’t that album for you, but that’s one reason why I like the album. In a genre that is full of songs that can feel like they’re pandering to the audience’s desire to “get hype”, it is refreshing to hear an album that feels like its connecting to some of the core things that made CHH what it used to be – rapping about Christ, unashamedly going against what modern music is saying, and exhibiting talent in lyricism.
This doesn’t mean that the album sounds old, by no means, it has some really inventive production and musicality to it. But I believe this album is fitting into a portion of the genre that has been widely neglected as a majority. So I say, if you like music that is clearly about Jesus, music that you don’t have to guess what the artist is talking about in the song, and you enjoy creative rapping, then this album is definitely for you. Its smooth to listen to, it’s not jarring to go from track to track, and it has a high replay value. Well done J.