Classic Album Review: Shai Linne – The Solus Christus Project
Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was listening to “To My Heart” by Flame on his album “Rewind.” It was featuring this guy shai linne, who I had not heard of at that point. I was still new to the faith and very new to Christian Hip-Hop at the time, so I was looking for new artists to expand my CHH playlist. When I heard shai lyrically dismantle that track, I immediately hopped on my computer and went to MySpace (yes MySpace) to find out more about him. That lead me to his debut album The Solus Christus Project. This record had a profound affect on me.
The Solus Christus Project didn’t just have a huge affect on me, but it had a huge affect on CHH. shai brought something different to CHH with this record. He coupled wordplay, outstanding lyricism and theology all in one, and he did it in a way that no one else could do. The lower case MC rocked the CHH community and provided fans with a certified classic right out of the gate.
The Solus Christus Project fits the anatomy of a classic in every way possible; it was great musically, it left an impact on the genre and it has stood the test of time.
You can’t have a classic album without great music. When you think of shai linne’s music, the first thing that comes to mind is lyricism. shai got his reputation as a great lyricist from his performance on The Solus Christus Project. He showed all the traits of a great lyricist. He had wordplay, analogies, story telling, double entendres and punchlines. shai’s lyricism was utterly captivating at times. He lyrically assaulted each track and didn’t relent throughout the entirety of the record. His lyricism alone was enough to elevate this record into the classic conversation.
shai is a phenomenal lyricist, just one listen to any of his work will prove that, but lyrical ability alone doesn’t get it done. It takes a good delivery and flow to make the lyricism sound great. On The Solus Christus Project, shai brought a strong (as well as unique) flow that brought out his incredible lyricism. For a debut album, he had a very confident and polished delivery. He showed the range and versatility to switch his tone and pace throughout the record, which is rare in a young MC. shai displayed a lot of potential on The Solus Christus Project, but what was most impressive was how talented and polished he already was. This record was about more than just a good lyricist, it was about a great MC.
If lyricism is the first word that comes to mind when you think of shai linne, then production is probably the last thing you think of when it comes to shai linne. The Solus Christus Project is no different. The production itself won’t leave you in awe, but luckily the record isn’t a soundtrack. It’s a full-length album and the production compliments shai very well. The production on this album does what production should do, and that is create a canvas for the artist to work on. The sound was varied throughout the record. The production on The Solus Christus Project was far from great, but it didn’t have to be. It just needed to compliment shai and bring the music to life, and it definitely did that.
Impact and Longevity
The music is very important, because it is what these artists do. Another huge quality of a classic is its impact and longevity. An album’s impact can be judged in a couple different ways. The most notable of ways is record sales. If an album is #1 on the charts and sells hundreds of thousands of records, then it’s obvious that it made a huge impact in the Christian Hip-Hop community. That isn’t the only way to judge an albums impact. Another way is to look at its effect on the genre itself. Though The Solus Christus Project didn’t shatter any album sales records, it definitely made an impact on the genre.
The biggest and most notable impact shai’s first project had lies in two simple words; “Lyrical Theology.” This is a term that was made famous by the “lower case mc” and has now essentially grown into its own sub-genre. “Lyrical Theology” has been attached to any artist that uses their music to break down specific passages of scripture, theological terms or doctrines. All of this can be traced back to The Solus Christus Project, and more specifically to the interlude where shai breaks down what exactly “Lyrical Theology” is. Songs like “Dark Night of the Soul” and “My Portion” show shai taking “Lyrical Theology” past simple explanation and put it to practice. shai forever changed the genre with this record, and CHH is better because of it.
Another good barometer of how classic an album is its longevity. If the album can stand the test of time and still sound fresh 5, 10 years after it was released, then it has a special quality to it. Most albums usually fade out after a year or two, when trends change or other records come out. It’s only the really special records that transcend time. Linne was able to achieve this with The Solus Christus Project. This record still sounds as good today as the day it was released. To take it a step further, this record is still widely regarded as his best project even after eight years and five albums. The Solus Christus Project transcends the genre, time, changes in trends and music. This record will never get old and that makes it a classic.
shai has had an incredible career and an amazing impact on CHH. All of that started with The Solus Christus Project. This record was something like a precursor for the outstanding career shai was going to have. It is hard for an artist to create an unforgettable album on their first try, but that is exactly what shai was able to do. He created a record that has everything you would want in a classic. It changed the genre, has longevity, a fantastic and strong message, and the music was great.
Whether or not this is shai linne’s best album is irrelevant, because this was the record that started it all. The Solus Christus Project jump-started one of the most impressive careers in CHH. So if you’re a fan of shai, Lamp Mode, lyrical theology or just good music, then The Solus Christus Project is a must have on your playlist.