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EP Review: Deraj – Mirrors & Medicine

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

Reflection Music Group is setting themselves up for a big year in 2014. With the recent signings of B. Cooper and Deraj, they are showing us the diversity they plan to bring to the table. B. Cooper recently dropped a mixtape and now, Deraj is sharing what he has to offer on his EP, Mirrors & Medicine.

I like when labels stretch themselves by picking up artists that don’t exactly sound like their “brand” (a couple examples for me would be Json with Lampmode and Eshon Burgundy with Humble Beast). In my opinion, it helps the label expand their reach and break out of whatever box they may be in. That is how I felt when I listened to Deraj. His sound is different and I think he will be able to reach a different group of people.

In this review, I will share what stood out to me on this EP.

His Sound

As I just stated, Deraj has a unique sound. It was hip hop but it was different. There was a strong EDM feel behind it. I think the best term I can think of is progressive pop. He rapped but he also sang. Songs like “Solitaire” , “What You Say” and “Runaway” had a strong pop/dance  feel to it. I think that his sound will be able to reach people who don’t like normal hip hop. It reminded me of The Washington Projects at one point, as Je’kob is featured on the project, and I could imagine a song like “Runaway” on a CCM radio station. I’m not sure if that is what he was going for, but I definitely pulled that from the sound of the project.

Message

Deraj did a great job encouraging the listener on this project. There were moments where it was as if he was speaking directly to me. The best examples of this were on “No Fear” and “Runaway.” I really love the message he presented in each song.

On “No Fear” he encouraged the believer to have no fear and to be bold. While this message may be heard all the time, I liked the way he presented it. I think it is easy to create an “us vs. them” mentality in Christianity. The rally cries can catalyze more division than love. In “No Fear” he was encouraging believers to not be afraid to fail. To not be afraid of the “world” and shine light amongst them. It was a refreshing message that will inspire many.

I appreciated “Runaway” as well for a different reason. In this song, he is speaking to the believer or non believer that continues to run away from God rather than run to Him. At first, you hear a verse where he’s telling a story about a person that continues to run. Later in the song, he flips it on the listener and speaks to how they may be running. I thought this was a creative way to set up the track. In the beginning, he shares moments that people may be able to relate to, but then he brings it straight to the listener. I believe this track will also touch lives, especially if performed at a concert.

Dislikes

I do feel like there were plenty of good things about this album. The production and lyrics were very strong, but there were some things that I wish would have been better.

I think the struggle with short EP’s is that it is hard to have a clear direction. It felt like this was a project thrown together to showcase Deraj’s talent. I don’t think that is bad, it just made for an uncomfortable listening experience. I also think that some of the songs were over produced. There was so much going on sometimes that I had to really focus to pull the message out. It sounded pretty fun, but I wasn’t sure what was actually being said.

Conclusion

I think that the listener will walk away feeling that Deraj is a very talented artist. I think that this project did a good job showcasing what Deraj is capable of. I do think that this project may be  hit or miss for some. If you are looking for head-knocking, beat-banging hip hop, this project may not meet your needs. If you like the new direction of music and the EDM influence in hip hop, you will most likely appreciate this project.

I walked away curious as to what he will put out in the future. I think he could do a lot within CHH and CCM. Although there were some moments I disliked on this project, I can hear that Deraj has a lot to offer. I am excited to see what is next for him.

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#WadeO317 - Da' T.R

Branden Murphy has served as a Campus Missionary. He loves Christian hip hop and uses it within his ministry to reach and converse with many different students. He plans to use his heart for music and ministry to write album reviews on Wadeoradio.com. Branden is also married with two children. You can follow Branden on Twitter: @Bmurph633.

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