- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Dec
Funny guy John Reuben can rightfully claim the title of Christian music's first white rapper. Initially dubbed an Eminem ripoff, John Reu had no trouble getting past that notion and winning the hearts of many fans with his first two releases, catapulting him to become Gotee's top-selling solo rap artist.
In the year and a half since
Though gone are the days of beaty, dance-ready numbers á la "Gather In" or "Up and At 'Em," a couple of new tracks could still be construed as such. First single "Move" is highly rhythmic, accentuated with a pulsating synth bassline and high-pitched guitar spikes. "This Life" might be the only track that's strictly a banger—a definite party track featuring a memorable Mexican-styled trumpet and electric guitars with verses pointing to the brevity of life: "I'm well aware of my history/So I approach life a little more humbly/because being full of yourself will leave you empty." "Treat," another fast-paced ditty, resembles "Hello Ego" from Reuben's self-titled debut in its use of annoying but effective sampled kids' vocals, accompanying the punchy cuts courtesy of DJ Manuel.
The fun stuff is largely outnumbered by darker, more somber numbers that give us a glimpse into Reuben's mind and his struggles, questions, and self-searching. The jazzy, live production and combo of sax, drums, and bass of "All In All" serve as the perfect background for Reuben's musings about his purpose in life. "Freedom to Feel," another pensive track, features ethereal chants from The Benjamin Gate's Adrienne Liesching complementing Reuben's earnest lines about his willingness to be real in a religion that—he complains—promotes fakeness and represses emotions. Liesching reappears in the hook to "I Haven't Been Myself," an introspective track recalling Reu's previous song "X-Ray." In this succession of songs, "I Have No Opinion" is the best cut, with Reuben's band effortlessly replacing the programmed beat during the verse-to-chorus transition.
At 11 songs and just over 40 minutes, some may not like the album's brevity—atypical of a rap album. Too bad, since many of these songs are more meaningful than a number of Reuben's past fun songs combined. Despite the profundity and level of maturity of