LABEL: GODCHASERZ ENTERTAINMENT
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2012
I’ve never really been able to define Brinson’s style of hip-hop. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that he eschews labels and changes things up from album to album. His newest release No Other Heroes is no different. A bit more upbeat and fast-paced than previous outings, Brinson shows no signs of slowing or making it easy to categorize him.
Stellar-nominated singer Jai lends her vocals to “3D StandOut” and you can instantly feel her influence. Sounding like anything from her Culture Shock album, Brinson might be a good artist to feature on her inevitable sophomore project. The theme of Christians standing out in the culture, Brinson handles himself well and Jai’s hook is fun and poppy.
“Hit The Floor” is a great club-inspired anthem. It’s kind of all over the place, but it still manages to work well enough. The accompanying Space Cherry Films-produced video is equally “whacky,” but it is a decent visual that I think boosts the song overall.
“All The Way” features Champ and he’s got a down South, slurred speech style of rhyming that has become more popular within CHH thanks to Reconcile. The beat here is thick and features some impressive drum looping.
I hated the song “Bodyguard.” I’m going to go ahead and guarantee that it’ll work well in a live setting. But, as an album track, its cheesy and the beat is whack. It sounds cheaply produced, synthetic, and dated. Brinson’s rhyme scheme even takes a serious here. It sounds like he’s just starting out, still having to look at the words on his iPod notes app in order to remember the words.
“Last Time (feat. Uncle Reece)” is likely the best record on the project. The beat is solid, the crooning hook is crisp, the pacing is mid-tempo and never loses itself, Brinson’s rhyming fits perfectly, and it touches real life experience. This would make a fantastic music video.
Brinson ends the project with “Most Importantly,” which is essentially an altar call. Far be it from me to criticize the prayer of salvation, but I’m not sure its necessary at the end of the project like this. And while I’m a fan of “Sinner’s Prayer,” there’s not much support for a person after the music stops.
A particular strength of this project is that Brinson features far less guest spots than he has in the past. He’s been around for a while and its about time he showed what he can do on his own. Other than a few hooks provided by crooners such as Jai on “3D StandOut” and Rossi and The Voice’s Nikki Dawson on “Not Too Far,” Brinson is center stage on this project, showcasing his very capable hip-hop style. Even when there are other guest emcees, Brinson is still a commanding presence.
The theme of the project is also strong point. We live in a culture that worships its heroes and flocks to the Cineplex to watch the latest superhero film. (By the way, the Iron Man 3 trailer released today. Just sayin’.) Brinson takes that and asks the question, “What if Jesus were our only hero?” It’s more overt and in-your-face with the gospel than much of what is going on in the Christian hip-hop market at the moment, but there is still plenty of room for this approach.
The difficulty with an album like No Other Heroes is that when an artist isn’t as popular as some of the guys on larger Christian hip-hop labels, people are liable to label it whack without giving it a chance. But, in a world where even big label names like Andy Mineo use hotel bed mattresses as a makeshift sound booth, more respect should be given to artists who invest their hard-earned time and money into expensive studio time to produce an album that far less people will hear because they haven’t been co-signed by DJ Don Cannon. So, the problem isn’t so much with the album itself, but with the expectations and attitudes within Christian hip-hop fandom. Still, it remains a liability. With the saturation of the Christian hip-hop market by the “big names” and the flood of independent albums featured every single week on Rapzilla, I question whether No Other Heroes will languish in relative obscurity after its first week on iTunes.
Overall, No Other Heroes isn’t perfect, but it does boast a more mature Brinson and features a number of tracks that are worth multiple listens. It’s always nice to see an independent artist who is willing to hone their craft and do something different than what we continue to hear from Reach, Lamp Mode, and Humble Beast. There’s more out there and Brinson is proof of that.