Artists like Tupac, DMX and Scarface are revered for their content that ponders spiritual purity and enrichment on this cold rock. Though most of these artists are unabashed and open about their spiritual beliefs, it’s always presented in the midst of duality: “Yeah, there is a god and I try to follow his path, but it’s too hard to tame myself 24/7….so this isn’t Christian Rap“
God only knows why the hangup exists (pun intended), but irregardless it’s hamstrung the potential of many an artist. The term “Christian” Rap seems to automatically marginalize the visibility of an artist, no matter how preachy it doesn’t sound.
Lately though, artists like LeCrae and London’s Guvna B have created music firmly entrenched in Christianity that doesn’t manage to remind the listener of awkward conversations with older family members or Ned Flanders. Guvna B’s sound is universal, and his latest release Odd One Out exemplifies this. It falls in line with the standard sonics of the day, from the intro track “Big Boy Riddim’s” Dub-Step inspired whirling, to the airy Europop synths on “Free”.
This album doesn’t have to be pigeonholed or categorized as anything, yet Guvna willingly decides to.
“I’m a christian, standing, yeah man I said it”, he proclaims on “Do It Like You”. After that make-no-mistake moment, it’s rarely obvious, which leaves the listener to take the music in on it’s own merit.
Guvna doesn’t exactly revolutionize sonically though. This project relies on an up-tempo pace full of huge snares and synth melodies to lull the listener, and Guvna shows up with an energetic flow that rarely astounds lyrically. He doesn’t immerse himself in internal struggle ala DMX or analyze hypocrisy within the church ala LeCrae, Guvna just feeds an upbeat atmosphere with uplifting lyrics. A track like Say Cheese for example sounds like fodder for an early set of the club yet Guvna’s upbeat “I aint perfect but Im gonna try” refrain gets his point across just fine.
The album actually falters when Guvna tries to expand lyrically and get too serious. The track “Way Out”, utilizes the tired “3 verses, 3 different stories of pain”concept and an amateur hook by Mark Asari doesn’t help. “His Love” finds Guvna explaining his relationship over a relatively sparse beat and he just isn’t lyrically adept enough to create a lasting impression.
This album succeeds in irony, much like a decent portion of Hip-Hop in 2013. The idea that Guvna presents a Christian Rap album that could potentially get the glory of god into a party is impressive. It’s fairly obvious that as a writer he wouldn’t have been as successful with a straightforward approach, so he tries the reel-in route with commendable results.