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Commanders of the Resistance

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Oct
Commanders of the Resistance
Sounds like … Black Eyed Peas, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Nelly Furtado, Group 1 Crew and other urban-pop artists with a heart for hip-hop.At a glance … pop smarts and an eclectic sound are all over this ambitious album from the group formerly known as Souljahz.Track Listing Move
Take It to the Streets
You Are My World
Love Is Like an Ocean
She Can't Love You
Zephyr Wings
(Interlude) Deliverance
Outside Your Window
I Will Stay With You
You Talk Too Much
That Girl
If I Can't Have You
(Outro) Tired of Livin

Those who remember the group know that Souljahz should've been big. The trio splashed onto the Christian music scene with buzz and a bang, landing a record deal with Word/Warner, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in pop, and filling a huge void for urban music in the faith-based arena. Siblings Joshu'a, Je'kob and Rachael Washington had the looks, label push, sound, and songs to launch their national debut, The Fault Is History, over the edge.

Instead, the group went under. Label restructuring at Word/Warner did them in, entangling them in corporate red tape and causing the indefinite shelving of their second album. It prompted the sibs to move to Hawaii to clear their heads. After a few years of legal limbo, the Washingtons were finally released from their contract, under the condition that Souljahz became a nonentity.

Now after a long five-year wait, the siblings are back as The Washington Projects, independent and one member short (Joshu'a is no longer in the group). It hasn't robbed the remaining duo of any of the energy they once had. If anything, the lack of big-business oversight gives their new offering, Commanders of the Resistance, an air of liberty and celebration that's more natural than the festive flair of The Fault Is History, which felt more like a studio calculation than the result of life experience.

More noteworthy is the tandem's pop smarts, which,coupled with their brand of hip-hop, urban, dance, and soul tendencies make this disc genuinely accessible—more akin to the work of Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, or Pharrell than previous Fugees comparisons. There's something inexplicably indie sounding about the whole thing, but Je'kob and Rachael micromanage it well with balance, knowing when to hold back and when to let loose, when to sing and when to rap.

Of course, their similarity to today's urban-pop means they have to keep their lyrics similarly immediate, lest their message falls on deaf ears. They certainly don't make qualms about their spiritual intentions ("You Are My World"), but they're just as concerned with inspiring self-respect ("Diamonds"), character ("Move"), and smart life choices ("Time"). Much like their previous debut, this is a responsible, well-rounded urban pop album that's unlike anything in Christian or mainstream circles.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.