- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jul
For all you sports fans out there, this is indeed thatRay Buchanan, the defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons who helped lead the team to Super Bowl XXXIV in 1998. Before you start conjuring images of awkwardly performed songs by other sports figures (Shaq, The Chicago Bears' 1985 hit "Super Bowl Shuffle"), you should know that Ray is no stranger to music. Originally from the south side of Chicago, he's been writing and performing music for some time now and released his first album in Dallas during the off-season in 1998. Since then, he's been featured here and there, performing and recording for various sports-related activities, most notably his song "Roll With Me," which was performed during Super Bowl XXXIV week in Atlanta. More importantly, Ray also is a devoted husband, a loving father of three, and a devout Christian. He's dedicated much of his time and efforts to a wide variety of charity events, and like his previous recording, he's devoted his self-titled national debut on BEC to God.
He may be a writer and a rapper, but Ray's album likely is saved from obscurity and novelty by producer Blake Knight of Ill Harmonics. Blake lends an air of credibility and sophistication to Ray's songs, and the results are better than you might expect. The opening track on the album, "On the Floor," also is perhaps the weakest. A somewhat uptempo and rhythmic rhythm-and-blues groove, it features popular R&B artist Sam Salter on vocals (sounding very much like Babyface or R. Kelly). The lyrics communicate little more than "it's a party so let's dance," and the song wears out its welcome at more than five minutes. "Rock With Me," on the other hand, is less about getting jiggy with Ray and more about coming to a relationship with Christ before it's too late. It has a vibrant hip-hop sound reminiscent of L.A. Symphony.
"Hotland" is another standout track that reminds us to place security in God's grace rather than in the things of this world, sort of a paraphrase of Matthew 16:26. Sam Salter also lends his singing voice to the soft R&B ballad "That's All," a love song about Ray's godly commitment to his wife and family. The gospel-seasoned "Wind Still Blows" praises God for his eternal presence in our times of need, while "Do For Me," which features R&B diva Cherelle on the chorus, condemns people's tendency towards a selfish lifestyle. The darkly hued modern R&B of "Hold On" encourages us to remain strong in the face of the temptations of the evil one and is featured twice on the album (the original as well as a "Flamenco Mix").
Overall, Ray Buchanan's self-titled album isn't bad. He doesn't quite distinguish himself as one of the great hip-hop talents, but the album is still an admirable effort. Even if it's not your music flavor of choice, you've got to admire a successful Christian athlete who seeks to use his God-given blessings for good, both in helping his community and in sharing his faith with others.