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Album Review: Roy Tosh – Death Before Love

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

A phrase that has made rounds through our society is “Death Before Dishonor”, often used to portray a certain toughness to one’s character or motives. But, I bet you’ve never heard someone say “Death Before Love” before. Roy Tosh is betting the same thing as this is the title of his newest album, second under his moniker. Coming from Florida, and being connected with Benjah, one would be at fault if they truly believed themselves to have Roy Tosh pegged musically, since FL has proven to breed a very diverse group of rappers, both in music and flow in the CHH realm. So, be prepared for different styles of music to come together as one in this album as Roy Tosh explains how we should all have “Death Before Love”.

Death and Life

While both are in the power of the tongue, Roy Tosh uses these two words as key anchors towards the subject of most of his songs. While keeping the updated sound he created for himself during his free project “The Revert”, a big part of the artist who he was before came to life through the content in a new but familiar way. Much of the content in his songs are very meaty, containing substance that is actually about something.

Now there are the staple hip hop tracks with southern hip hop influences that we know have the booming 808’s and sizzling hi hats, but they are a minority in this project. You’ve got “Never Die”, which features Reconcile, “Light Up” featuring Canton Jones, you’ve got a song for driving around called “Ridin” featuring Alex Faith, and even a west coast track featuring Black Knight called “One”.

After those 4 tracks, which all in their own right talk about what its like to live for Christ and be set apart, you get a body of mature concepts in the other tracks. From the beginning, you’ve got a song that has a clean acoustic feel to it, featuring Deraj and Paulo Clayton, that reflects on the many blessings Roy has had in his life. There is also a track with J. Paul on the hook that tells the stories of unwise decisions and regret that is called “Saturday”.

From “Abba”, “Domino”, to “Prodigal Son”, Tosh has a lot of songs on this project that are about handling real life situations with the great God who can heal all. And thats the key to the project, as well as The life of a Christian. We HAVE to die to self before we can truly take part in God’s redemptive love. There must be death to our old ways before we can experience the love of Christ.

The deeper meaning behind the title expressed through songs Also, The tracks don’t get in the way of what he is saying either. They aren’t too packed with sounds that you have to fight to hear his vocals or listen too intently to internalize the lyrics. The deeper meaning behind the title expressed through songs with less distracting instrumentation is a nice touch. And if we compare it to “The Revert”, this is steady growth in the content area for Roy, and thats a plus.

Soundscapes

When your album is more about what you’re saying, the music has to be synchronized with that vision. “Death Before Love” has a vision of storytelling. The narratives of 9/13 tracks are driven by this art style, as they weave an image into the listeners head from verse to verse. So for these 9+ tracks, the music ebbs and flows around Roy Tosh’s content.

There isn’t a lot of special effect sounds that go along with the story telling, but the tracks build up and recede at the key points to keep the listener attentive. One that comes to mind right away when I talk about this fact is “Prodigal Son” with Benjah. Little things like how the percussion comes in and out during the chorus, or the tone that Roy raps draws you in from the song’s start give dynamics to the song(s).

I also like how this happens in “Abba”, featuring Beckah Shae. It reminds me of those songs that are made for story telling: simple hip hop groove, piano, baseline, then the chorus builds up with a grand, uplifting crescendo to signify hope in the midst of the trouble talked about in the verses. What one can say about this project is that its not one sided. There are a number of music styles represented from Trap, hip hop, R&B, a bit of pop and West Coast. Almost anyone can find at least one song on this project that they can connect with.

Overall

As a follow up album to a rebranding project, “Death Before Love” is solid second offering. Roy Tosh speaks from the heart and and is clear with what he is trying to say. There isn’t an overabundance of metaphors, similies, or the like to grab the listener’s ear through extra crafty lyricism, but he’s not talking nonsense either. Its a mixture of skill with simplicity to make sure the audience can follow along with the pictures he is trying to paint.

At first I wasn’t sure how Roy was going to stand out in the midst of all of the features on this album (

10 out of the 13 songs), but I was wrong to have doubts. Each feature fits their respective track and adds to the experience as an assistance to Roy – supporting him as the lead artists in every case. IF you like album’s that aren’t dominated by one sound more than the other, than you’ll enjoy the ride Roy Tosh gives you with “Death Before Love”.

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Daniel Cody is the engineer for the Wade-O Radio podcast and producer of The Life Change radio program for 4th Generation Ministries. He has a Bachelors Degree in Music Production & Record Engineering. He has a passion for authentic rap about the Gospel and collaborates with all genres of Christian music with his production company - Man of God Productions. Follow him on Twitter @DRoyulMOG.

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