Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
My first encounter with the 007 and Gifted, formerly known as Gifted da Flamethrowa, occurred at Flavor Fest 2014 and I was impressed by the way the crowd responded to their music. During that time, they had already released their collaborative album When the City Sleeps (2013). The group brought their southern flow and energy to the set and it was well received. The talented 007 and Gifted now make up the duo RAW and are not new to CHH or the rap game as a whole.
On February 12, RAW released Rawmerica. An album that shares their heart on the state of America and local communities.
On the album, they mention rocking stages and being close to some of the biggest names in hip hop. The artistry of RAW is well respected for it aggressiveness and bold stance towards community issues and the nation as a whole. For those who may not be familiar with the group, RAW is an acronym for “Ready and Willing” – to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you read the group name in reverse, it spells out “War,” which the group engages in spiritually every time they are doing ministry through music.
The concept for the album is based around the “Constitution of the United States in Article II, Section 2 –the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.” However, RAW’s perspective on this is that God is the President and the cabinet members do not advise God but instead, they follow HIS orders. Other than 007 and Gifted, the album assembled a group of other cabinet members including Corey Paul, Sean C. Johnson, No Malice, Dillon Chase and many others. The concept for the album is clever at such a troubling time for the nation because it incorporates a government system that has been said to oppress a lot of those in the minority, but RAW has found a way to flip a negative connotation towards government and rules and use it to give God reverence and control over all things.
The group fluently combined rap and spoken word on the album, which added a timely moment for listeners to soak in everything that was being said. In the content of their music, RAW is transparent about both the spiritual and physical scars that have brought them to the place of being ready and willing to spread the Gospel. On the album, you will find uplifting tracks like “New Day” featuring 5vie and Sean C. Johnson, that reflect on how God changed both of their lives. In a way, this song references to 2 Corinthians 5:17, which speaks about becoming new creatures in Christ, which ultimately creates new days in those who are in Christ. The group speaks of their own shortcomings briefly on the track and how God has guided them to make better choices today.
The track “Silver Linings” features a fuse of hip hop and rock and speaks on finding Christ in any situation that you may find yourself in no matter the severity. This song features Brian Trejo and Ben Donnelly, and each artist gives a piece of their testimony and how they thank God for their individual struggles because it brought them to the place that they are currently in. Another song with a catchy message and sound is “Alot to Do” featuring Dillon Chase. The track reflects on the daily situations we all go through and how easy it can be to let our guard down and give in to sin. The track titled “Mannequins” shows the importance of showing the love of Christ no matter what others may say about you.
As Christians, it feels like our lives are often put under a magnifying glass by the world and culture and the pressure to not mess up can be overwhelming sometimes. On the track “Paparazzi,” RAW speaks on welcoming others in to their life to see what they really represent. They speak on what they used to portray to the public and how now their lives have taken a dramatic change. Some other topics on the album include the importance of gratitude, the negative impact of the world view of music, and our need to solely depend on God.
The album Rawmerica offers a variety of sounds, which shows that the group found a way to utilize diversity in their sounds, without losing themselves as individual artists. I believe listeners will appreciate their aggressive approach of their delivery and honesty on what they have overcome and how it has shaped their lives. One of the things I appreciate about their music is the easiness to understand the message they want to convey. A lot of times listeners have to overthink to understand certain concepts and lyrics, but RAW makes their content self-explanatory and easy to dissect for the listener. Overall, I believe the content of the album will resonate well with listeners and it will encourage those who listen to it to reach their respective communities with the Gospel.