Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
What makes Christian music different from other music? The answer seems obvious Christ. This one thing has always made Christian music different than secular music as the music wasn’t just music. The purpose behind the music is often bigger than the music itself.
That same idea is also true in Christian Hip-Hop, and has fathered campaigns, slogans, movements, albums, songs and concerts. All have the idea that music isn’t just music for Christians. With the whole “Christian” rapper debate going on, this idea is more important than ever. Every once in awhile an album comes along in CHH that reminds everyone that there is more to the music they make. That record is Tre9’s Missionary Minded. Tre9 set out to refocus everyone’s mind on what’s important, and that is bringing the gospel to those who need it.
More Than Music
“It’s more than music, it’s more than getting behind the mic. We’re H-town missionaries.” Tre9 made this statement at the beginning of the title track Missionary Minded, and that is the heart of this album. This album was much more than just music; it was about being Missionary Minded. I took that to mean, that we (Christians) need to have a disciple making mindset, a passion to go outside the four walls of the church and bring the gospel to people in our neighborhoods.
That is the theme of the record and that is Tre9’s heart. You can hear his heart in every bar and beat throughout the entire album. Tracks like “Missionary Minded”, “Slow it Down” and “Fatherless” have Tre9 (amongst others) highlighting the need for strong Christians that are “Missionary Minded”. It’s these types of tracks that make the listener forget about the music and focus on the message.
The message on this record is what makes it special. Tre9 used his theme of being Missionary Minded well and used a variety of topics and stories to shed a light on the importance of urban missions. This is an important message that Tre9 made the star of his album, and it most certainly deserves top billing.
As great as the message of this record was, I would be remiss to not talk about the music. Though the message was the star there were moments where the music wasn’t at the same level as the message.
Being a Houston native Tre9’s album was very much a southern album. It had a heavy southern sound, with a huge focus on Texas. This was encouraging because many of today’s artists can lose their hometown sound in their quest to reach national and even international audiences. With Missionary Minded there is no mistake where Tre9 is from and what influences his music.
Sound aside; there were other things that made this a typical “southern” hip-hop record. There wasn’t a large variety in the sound and the lyricism wasn’t all that great. Tracks like “I Made it Through it All” and “Red Bible, Red Letters” seemed elementary in its delivery and couldn’t hold my attention. While there were times that Tre did a good job of telling a story, like on “Fatherless”, he lacked consistency throughout the record.
One thing that stood out musically were the amount of features Tre9 had on this record. Every track, except for the intro and outro, had some kind of assistance on it. With features like Sho Baraka, D-Maub, Gideonz Army, ZG, Corey Paul and Bun B, it’s safe to say that they did more than assist Tre9 on this album. The biggest and most notable feature was on the song “Slow it Down” with the aforementioned Bun B. As shocking as it was for most CHH fans to see a secular artist on this record, it worked really well. Bun fit right into the mold of what Tre9 was doing and the duo turned this song into one of the standouts on Missionary Minded.
One Last Thing Worth Mentioning
Highlighting the importance of urban missions is something that Christian Hip-Hop fans have heard mentioned in songs like Thi’sl’s “Urban Missionary”. Outside of a few mentions, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to it, and rarely do you ever hear pastors talk about it. I applaud Tre9 for dedicating a whole album to it, because it needs to be brought to the forefront.
With that said, there was something Tre9 said on this album that stood out to me, and I felt important to address. In the song “Teach Me Your Ways” Tre spit this:
“Need missionaries in U.S. hoods, but we send them on vacation
a couple g’s to go overseas, I’d rather spend it at the gas station
to put gas in my tank for the rest of the year to go back and forth to that hood
come follow me as I follow Christ, discipleship is all good.”
These bars left me a little stunned at first, because of the perception of what he said. It seemed as if he was saying that overseas missions are less important than urban missions, because overseas missionaries are going on “vacation”. I don’t believe that is Tre9’s heart. I think the perception here could be wrong. The thing with music is that perception can become reality, as it is the listener’s job to interpret what they hear.
The perception here is dangerous and I am willing to admit that I could have misunderstood what Tre9 was saying here. My purpose isn’t to attack Tre or try and stir up controversy but whether my perception is correct or not that is how those bars could be taken. It brings to light an important conversation. Neither overseas missions nor urban missions are more important than the other. Urban missions does get overlooked within the church so it can come off less important, but if Tre9 did anything with this album he showed us how important it really is. That is what’s important.
All things considered Tre9 put together a good album. He had some really good features and some memorable moments on Missionary Minded. Tre9 has done some great things in the Houston area, and this record looked to be an extension of that. That is something that is very inspiring and motivating for other Christians. Any time you see someone doing what he or she talks about, it pushes you to do the same. What we all can learn from Tre9 is that music isn’t just music if we are Missionary Minded.