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Album Review: Mixed Bag Presents: Normal Is Overrated

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O 

The entertainment culture is a progressive one. Whenever someone is doing really well, they often go after something that hasn’t been done. This is always a dangerous move because change can be uncomfortable. Fans get used to a certain sound and have a hard time adapting to something new.

About a year ago, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. announced the signing of TJ Pompeo to Mixed Bag Entertainment and this had fans bubbling with excitement, curious as to what the sound of his label would bring. In interviews, Da’ T.R.U.T.H mentioned that the heart and vision behind the label was to be a home for the artist that didn’t fit into just one genre. Again, this left people wondering what we would hear when the label released a project. In February, TJ Pompeo released a two song EP titled Boy Meets Girl. It gave listeners a taste, but didn’t give fans a picture of what this label really had to offer.

Finally, Da’ T.R.U.T.H announced that Mixed Bag would be releasing a compilation project earlier in August. The project is titled Normal Is Overrated featuring Mixed Bag artists TJ Pompeo, Prayz1, Promise, Aaron Cole and Da’ T.R.U.T.H. The title fits with the vision that Da’ T.R.U.T.H. has been communicating to different media outlets. But will the sound and content match the title? In this album review, we will look at what Mixed Bag Ent. brought to the genre with this compilation project.

The Artists

Normal Is Overrated did a great job allowing each artist on the roster to show their personal style. From the music to the song selection, to the lyrics, listeners will walk away feeling like they know the sound to expect from each artist.

TJ Pompeo – TJ brings a lot of fun and high energy to this project. He showcases his ability to spit fast bars on “Cool Kids” feat. Canon (possibly one of the fastest rappers in CHH) and also lets people hear his voice on “Nightlight.” His sound is a little pop-ish and there are a lot of synth filled beats on the tracks that he was featured on. He definitely is a versatile artist because although he has the pop feel, his bars can stand strong with the best of rappers.

Prayz1 – Prayz1 brings a raw, in your face feel to the project. His first song, “Can I Be Me” is a hard hitting track where he’s speaking to the public about his personal style that contrasts what people may expect from most rappers in the mainstream world. Another track is “Lost” and he too, displays his ability to sing. On this track, he doesn’t rap much at all; he pours his heart out about how God’s love found him and how he would be lost without it. The sound that you get from his songs have a very hip hop feel similar to a Common (musically speaking, not lyrically) mixed with the current, mellow commercial sound that you might hear from a Drake (musically).

Promise- Promise seems to also be able to deliver bars and melodies. On his song featuring Da’ T.R.U.T.H, “Cliche and Trends”, Promise starts the track off soulfully singing about where music has gone. He then begins to rap about the subject and then passes the torch to Da’ T.R.U.T.H. His rap style is very conversational. He has his own style and it sounds like his strength may lean more towards the singing. Listeners will be able to hear him singing and rapping on “More”. His rapping wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel as polished.

Aaron Cole- Aaron Cole is the newest member to the Mixed Bag crew. Da’ T.R.U.T.H recently announced him as being “an artist for the teens and from the teens.” He was able to get his own song on the compilation titled “Shipwrecked.” He displays a mature perspective on entertainment and using his gifts for the Lord. Being that he is only 15 years-old, he has the ability to be a stand out artist on the label as he develops. Listeners only get one song from him on this compilation and his performance leaves you wanting to hear more.

Da’ T.R.U.T.H. – Da’ T.R.U.T.H. did a great job using this compilation to introduce people to the artists on the label. He only has one song by himself and it features Marz (“Stop Playing”). It didn’t feel like he tried to takeover the project at all. He has songs with everyone on the label, but he definitely lets his newer signees get most of the shine. This may be hard for other artists who feel like they are veterans, but this decision displayed Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s ability to focus on his label and use his platform for his team.

Normal Is Overrated?

When you see a title like Normal Is Overrated it makes you expect something different than everything else. On this project, you may have to dig a little deeper to find something other than what you have heard from other hip hop albums. It seems that the normal that they might be referring to is the “norm” that exists in the life of the non-believer. Every artist on the project seems to speak from the perspective as if they are explaining why they do things differently, and the common denominator is Jesus. Also, the title is possibly an encouragement to believers to not fall into the trap of wanting to be like everyone else. We are different because our lives have been impacted by Jesus and they make sure believers are encouraged to wear that change proudly.

Mixed Bag, Mixed Genres

As stated in the beginning, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. would mention that his heart for the label was to be a home for artists that bring more to the table and do not want to be put in a musical box. It seems that he has achieved that on Normal Is Overrated. Everyone on the project shows that they can rock in multiple lanes. When I stated that they could sing, it wasn’t like Nelly trying to bust a note with Kelly Rowland, but that they really can sing. They also really can rap. That is special because it opens the doors of creativity and allows for them to experiment with plenty of sounds. Listeners will hear a variety of sounds on this project and it is quite refreshing. Being that this was a compilation album, it felt good hearing a lot of different styles. Listeners should go into this project expecting the sound to be inconsistent because there is a distinct difference between each artist on the label.

Conclusion

The Mixed Bag compilation is a great offering of music for people wanting to know more about what each artist brings to the table. Not only are there songs where multiple artists are on one track, each artist got their own song as well. People will probably walk away from this project picking out their favorite artist and knowing whose album they want to hear first. Da’ T.R.U.T.H. did a great job with this project as he allowed the artists to have their own style and sound, while bringing about excellent production. This is just the beginning for the label and by the sound of it, they will be impacting CHH for many years to come.

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Branden Murphy has served as a Campus Missionary. He loves Christian hip hop and uses it within his ministry to reach and converse with many different students. He plans to use his heart for music and ministry to write album reviews on Wadeoradio.com. Branden is also married with two children. You can follow Branden on Twitter: @Bmurph633.

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