Review

LABEL: GOOD CITY MUSIC
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 26, 2012

R

emember that hit song,  “The lady in Red”? Of course you do. In fact, I am sure that no sooner than it is mentioned, a series of breakout performances tend to take place by every form of crooner- from the self-acclaimed ones whose bathroom walls are audience, to those singing away on stages. Hands down, it is just a standout hit.  Interestingly, it was penned in 1986, yet it is still one of those songs that defy the ’15 minute of fame rule’. Curious about it origin, I did some research which led me to discover that it was written as a tribute to the singer’s wife, and the particular event of him meeting her for the first time Obviously, it refers directly to what she wore at the time, but metaphorically now, the term is used to refer to a lady who, whether by dress or personality is able to arrest the attention of people around her. It is an event like this that will cause me to be forever amazed at the few things, especially in the entertainment realms, which have somehow been able to transcend their own era and have advanced beyond the proper, established, or usual limits because they stand out. They are indeed, ‘the Ladies in Red’.

Fortunately, the term is not concretively used to define people only. In this case, I hold up to you Rhema Soul’s newest musical presentation, RED. Not only is the project brilliant, it is in fact very brilliant. I obviously said that twice to underscore how impressive the 13 tracks LP is. I alluded to the fact of a lady in red earlier because I desire to liken both this new album and the group to that branding, for obvious reasons. In the past, the Rhema Soul trio, consisting of K-Nuff, JuanLove, and Butta-P was ‘that lady in red’ in the banquet feast of CHH musicians for more negative than positive reasons. They were chided for the ambivalence of the lyrics in their songs and touted as a ‘secular group’ because of the down to earth method of delivery and ministry that they used.  Though, most of that has changed now with their last album, Fingerprints, the back end of that dark cloud some times still dangle overhead. Though, on the other hand, and on a lighter side, this new offering is one that is draped in excellence such that it does stand out among the albums that have been recently released as being top class. Even the deejay at the banquet feast has asked for a copy this time around. In fact, he’s stop spinning in protest as he claims has been deprived. Still, RED is an album to write home about.

Without any hesitation, they point out in the title song and first track of the album that, ‘(the color) red communicates passion, emergency, [and urgency]; it is the ailment and the cure’. It is an emotion driven album, and from the outset, listeners would expect the album it to be that feel-good-type music. But, oh no! This is not by any means what you could have expected from them.  From their last two albums, they stepped it up a notch and present this album that you will listen through all the way non-stop, and twice if necessary. As said, it opens up with ‘RED’, which features Mr. X himself, This’l on a very short4-8-bar, but head banging verse. The song comments on the connotations that come from the color red and then proceeds to offering encouragement to develop a risk-taking passion for something, while concurrently responding appropriately to the besetting social ills that would seek to cripple a person. Sonically, while you prepare for your minds to be blown 40+ seconds in with the hook, the song is a great representative of the rest of the album.  It is followed up by ‘No Walking Away’; a heavy-metal infused hip-hop track, complemented by a riveting melody, which captures the whole message of the song; “when the pain in your mind starts to blind how you see the day, No walking away!” Remember how I said that this was feel good music? Well, I take it back-because it’s so much more.

The album also includes standout hits such as ‘Danger’ and ‘Celebration’, which tout the Rhema Soul sound that you know oh so well, but still cant seem to get enough of-that ‘Steez’ type of music. The instrumentation on each of these tracks insist that you repeat the songs, but if that is not enough, listen in as the group gels so well with each other to make a hit song of each single. Another like song is ‘Need An Answer’; yet, it is wholly in a class by itself. They successfully experiment with Dubstep to give listeners this pop-motivated song while still maintaining their hip-hop presence. I especially enjoy K-nuff’s work on this song and Butta P’s lead on the hook over the trembling synthesizer beat!

In keeping with this method of grouping songs, “Off The Edge” and “Break Out” are the songs that are riddled with a risk-taking faith message throughout. Personally, I prefer the former one more, though the latter is by no means inferior.

They offer encouragement in songs like “So Beautiful”-a tribute to women, which is Butta P featuring R&P headliner Jai, and “Not forgotten”, which is a somber, yet potent piece.

The album closes out with them teaming up with up-coming artist Shonlock to sing “Stop The World”, on which they put things in perspective by focusing on the power of the Lord to essentially provide peace in a world full of hustle and bustle. It is also consistent with the message of finding a passion. If that is not enough, they threw in some more dubstep to agitate any form of civil behavior out of you, so that you will want to dance!

While production on the album is impeccable, I still am somewhat dissatisfied with the transient lyrics of some of the songs. I strongly feel that this venture could be a bit more potent if the messages were communicated a bit clearer, and furthermore had material to agitate me to actually pursue a passion. Sadly, I do not have that feeling after putting the album down. That is not to say other will not. I however, I look forward to more. All in all, the album is a stellar piece of art, which shows the group’s growth spiritually and musically. One thing that cannot be denied them is their originality as a group and their ever rising above the status quo characteristic to produce awesome music. RED is ‘the lady in red’ album at life’s CHH banquet, which has the ability to strut across any dance-floor and sway to any beat. It is not a frolic, for sure, and it sits up there with those classic ones where sound is concerned. Indeed, in all the complaints about what CHH is missing, call me the pied piper of Hamelin for proclaiming that the masses sleep on Rhema Soul.