Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
Music, Message & Missteps
Trends are hard to avoid. From snapbacks to skinny jeans, every change in the wind seems to bring a new trend. Whether you think trends are good or bad, they’re inevitable. Trends are so common and unpredictable that even avoiding trends, has been a trend. The music industry hasn’t been immune from it. We have seen idea’s of what’s popular change often throughout time.
Generally, whatever the music industry says is “hot” figures to be the next trend. That has been true with everything from boy bands, to the grungy rock band, to now even hip-hop. Hip-hop has seen its fair share of trends throughout it’s history. There has been the “gangsta” rap/west coast trend, the St. Louis/Midwest trend, and the dirty south trend. I’m sure just after reading this you, have thought of a trend in hip-hop that you have loved and participated in. The point is that trends happen often, and Christian Hip-Hop is seeing a couple of trends really take off right now.
We are starting to see more rappers and producers collaborate for entire projects, and there is a serious premium on lyricism (and even political raps to an extent). Wes Pendleton and Tragic Hero give us both on their new project The Resistance. Tragic Hero is still a relatively new name to CHH fans, but he is a strong lyricist that is not afraid to speak up on political issues. His partner on this record, Wes Pendleton, is a highly talented producer that has made some noise in the genre over the past few years. Together they have made a project that is sure to please hip-hop fans.
Both of these talented artists have been able to make good music separately. The task now rests in their ability to come together and make good music as a duo. The Resistance is definitely good music. Tragic Hero was really able to shine on this record. His first record Going Home was a solid effort and CHH was able to see the stunning talent this kid has. The Resistance was another shinning example of how much talent Tragic Hero really has as an MC.
The first thing that will jump out at you when listening to Tragic Hero is his voice. It is different than anything else in CHH. It will definitely grab your attention, but it is his talent that will keep it. His flow is among the best in the game. He is able to rap with a smooth pace that makes each verse sound beautiful and effortless. Not only that, but the kid is insane lyrically! He showed off his lyricism and flow throughout the record. Tragic Hero puts on a show that any fan of hip-hop would enjoy.
Tragic Hero is only one part of this album though. Wes Pendleton‘s production was on point for this record. He switched sounds throughout the record, so it didn’t sound repetitive. Even though the sound was different, it always complimented Tragic Hero beautifully. The Resistance didn’t sound like two different artists making music. But instead, it sounded like they had the same idea and direction in mind. A great artist is only a great artist if the production allows him to be. As much as Tragic Hero shined on this record, without Wes Pendleton’s beautiful melodies and strong production this album would have just been average.
Any fan of Tragic Hero knows what to expect from him. He is a highly intelligent MC, and he is not afraid of political or social topics. Couple that with the title of the record (The Resistance) and you can deduce the message that is in this record. If all of those factors didn’t tip you off then some of Tragic Hero’s first bars of the entire record definitely will:
“Livin’ in America I’ll never trust/where they tradin’ freedom for a pair of cuffs
Sooner or later we gon’ be the terrorists/kill me to find out there’s only more of us”
That lays it out pretty plain on what the direction of the album will be.
The Resistance is a political record, to an extent. Songs like “Against the World” and “The Resistance” (featuring Alex Faith and Dre Murray) give it that political feel. Tragic Hero has other political moments throughout the record. If you are a fan of that type of hip-hop then you will appreciate this record. The political/social aspect of the album isn’t overwhelming though. So even if that type of hip-hop isn’t your thing there is still something for you on this record.
The Resistance is a very good record. It was solid throughout as Wes Pendleton and Tragic Hero had solid performances, but there were a couple of things that could have pushed this record past very good to great. The first was the length. This is one of the first things that you’ll notice about the record. It’s short. There are only seven tracks on The Resistance. Now I know it’s an EP so it’s not supposed to be long, but after listening to it I was begging for more. I don’t think I would classify this as a misstep, but I feel like with a few more tracks, Wes and Tragic Hero would have had a classic on their hands.
Another thing that would have made the record a little better would have been more direction with the concept. A great concept isn’t necessary for a great album, but a great concept will always take a record to the next level. I love the title, the cover art and the political/social aspect of the album. I just felt like there could have been a little more done with it all. I don’t know who ‘the resistance’ is and what they are resisting. The topics and lyricism is so heavy on this record, clearly stating some things about the concept would have drawn the listener in more, and made it easier to connect with the record.
These things may keep the record from being great, but they don’t stop it from being an enjoyable listening experience. Overall, the missteps on the album are small. The Resistance is an album any fan of hip-hop is sure to love. If this is the trend in CHH, to make good music that will challenge the listener as well as entertain them, then I hope that this trend continues.