- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jul
- Red Letterz
- The Blood
- I Believe
- How Many Times
- Make a Choice
- He Loves You
- Lost Soulz
- Mary Go Round
- I Need You
- Red Letterz (reprise)
Rob "Fresh I.E" Wilson, or "Freshie" as he's affectionately known, is a Vancouver, B.C., native whose heart is in music and ministry. His turbulent lifestyle as a young person prompted him to make some radical changes and commit his life to Christ. He began to write songs of encouragement for those caught up in the same vices he once indulged in. That in turn led to a position as an inner city youth minister and soon after as the founder of Life Inc., a ministry to kids via the sounds of hip-hop, R&B, rapcore, acoustic pop, and many other influences present on his self-produced, academy-endorsed
Despite its multiple stylistic directions, what Freshie has concocted here is a strange amalgamation of in-your-face, Bible-derived lyricism—think Cross Movement sans their rapid-fire street introspect.
Freshie also gets major props for his ability to write and produce solid hooks. In "Lost Soulz," for example, he brings in featured vocalist Malynda (who sounds like a less sultry version of Monica) for a simple yet ultra-catchy line about the direction only God can bring to one's life, while a simplistic, fast-paced beat hops along effectively. Malynda appears again in the mid-tempo "Alright," a memorable track whose melody recalls Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry," but stripped of its insular influences and favoring early '90s R. Kelly. Sure, this is no Missy Elliot/Timbaland collaboration, but it's nice enough to work as a pop/rhythmic single at Christian radio.
The most accomplished track is the testimonial "Jaynelle," detailing the story of a girl whose circumstances move her to aspire to something more. The dark, conversational tone of the cut is facilitated by a subdued acoustic guitar and the use of foreboding Casio strings, both of which complement the straightforward pop beat. A similar mood is maintained in "How Many Times," whose sinister strings and dissonant harmonies are highly reminiscent of GRITS' "Supreme Being" from
For a small album from a small label from an independent distribution company that almost nobody knows, Mr. Fresh seems to be off to a good start. While it's dubious that he will clean up come Grammy night—though stranger things have happened—this project's level of appeal is undeniable. Yes, he could use some more introspective material instead of so many word-for-word Bible quotations, but the album's still fresh (no pun intended) in its own special way.