Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
Outside of being a writer, I am also a teacher. I teach middle school Social Studies. Most of my students are apart of the hip-hop culture in some way. I have rappers, singers and fans. With that kind of makeup, I have learned first hand how important it is, for us as Christians, to engage the culture. Being a member of the Christian hip-hop culture/movement, it’s also very important to engage the culture and bring the gospel to the people and meet them where they are.
This is something that has become very important in CHH. More and more artists have made this a focus for their music/ministry. There isn’t a group that embodies this idea quite like the Houston based group Still Trill Christians. What the group has been able to achieve over the past couple of years has been highly impressive.
They were the first CHH artist/group to perform on BET’s highly popular 106 & Park. Group member AJ came back to 106 to share his past as a gang member and be apart of a panel about youth violence and gangs. On top of that their song “No Sex” featuring P. Dub (Willie Moore Jr.) has seen a wide variety of success, including the group being awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award by President Barack Obama. Needless to say, the group has engaged the culture, but they have a name for themselves behind the mic. Along with the previously mentioned, they recently released their mixtape “Before the Throne,” hosted by DJ Sematic. All of this has created a loud buzz for the group’s debut album KINGS.
What I Liked About It
Outside of “No Sex,” this was my first experience with STC, so I didn’t really know what to expect. This group deserves all of the accolades and hype it has received thus far, this is a very talented group. There was a lot to like about KINGS.
Production – The Production was great on this record. The beats drew me in and I enjoyed every single one. My head was nodding throughout the entire record. It wasn’t just great beats though, KINGS sounded good. Independent records don’t always sound great, but the quality was very high for this record. STC took great care in this area and it shined on KINGS.
Memorable Moments – KINGS was full of tracks that had me reaching for the repeat button on my Ipod. “No Sex” is the most notable track on this record. It’s gotten the most publicity and for good reason. It’s an excellent song with an equally as great of a message. This isn’t the only stand out track though. “Heir”, “War” featuring Mic Tunez and “New Day” featuring Nina Sims are all equally great. These are tracks that show the stunning talent that STC has. They will also keep you returning to this album for listen after listen.
Overall Album Quality – This is the area that probably impressed me the most. It’s hard for a debut album to be solid from start to finish and it becomes even more difficult when it’s a group, but STC pulled it off. KINGS had very few holes. The group had great chemistry and that made for an easy listen. All in all this was a very solid record from beginning to end.
What I Didn’t Like
KINGS had a lot of things that I really liked, but the album wasn’t perfect. There were some areas where STC could have made this record better, and can grow and become better artists.
Lyricism – This is a tough area to judge, because it wasn’t all bad. Still Trill Christians aren’t bad lyricists. Still Trill Christians are heavy with the punchlines, and anytime an artist is heavy with punchlines, their lyricism can be spotty. That was the exact problem with KINGS; the lyricism was spotty. Some punchlines didn’t hit and came off kind of corny. This wasn’t a big problem but it did take away from the listening experience. Improvement in the next area could also help the lyricism area.
Lack of Depth – There was a lack of content depth that left me wanting more. STC touched on some serious topics, but that was not the norm. There were only a few times when they dove into serious topics. The record was still very Christ centered and fed my spirit, but the majority of the album was head nodding tracks that you could bang in your car.
CHH Needs a Record like This
Being a teacher, one of the things I like to do is listen to some of the music my students listen to. It serves two purposes; 1) it allows me to connect with my students 2) it allows me to see what is popular within the hip-hop industry. That has led me to make the statement that CHH needs a record like KINGS.
Christian hip-hop is in as good of a place that I have ever seen it, but there is always room to grow. There has been a sincere and intentional focus on engaging the culture within CHH. That is where the focus seemed to be for STC. This album engages the hip hop culture in a way few records have in the past. It used what has been popular and successful in the secular industry to engage a group of fans that are probably not being reached.
That “106 & Park” audience is the one that CHH has had a hard time reaching, but I think KINGS is the type of album they want to hear. It wasn’t overly complicated or difficult to follow. The production was great and the message was simple, while still being impactful and inspiring. This record also had the coveted “it” factor. Something that you can’t really put a finger on that makes the album and group special. All of these things make KINGS the exact type of record CHH needs to reach an audience of hip hop fans that it may have not gotten to yet.
STC caught me completely off guard with this record, in a good way. KINGS is a special record. It reaches you on multiple levels and will definitely have you coming back for more. They put everything a fan of CHH would want in an album. KINGS is definitely an album you should have in your collection.