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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Government Name

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Government Name
Sounds like … Eminem, but without any of his belligerence or crass lyrics, plus the levity of KJ-52, and the carefree spirit of early John Reuben.At a glance … Bobby Bishop serves up a debut that is adequate, but that relies on too many rap clichés to be viewed as entirely original.Track ListingIntroGovernment NameGet Down He Won't Leave YouAmy's SongInterludeWar Cry Change the GameHere We GoShow LovePursuing AmyStimulate My SensesLike ThisMind ControlUp off the WallFor the CrowdHip Hop PieThe LaundromatOutro

Unless you're Will Smith and have a prior acting resume before your budding "rap" career, it's very unlikely to find an emcee who uses his real name in hip-hop circles. Most rappers come up with all sorts creative monikers, nicknames, and aliases, hoping to build a more outspoken public persona and to gain a fresh start.

Newcomer Bobby Bishop will gladly tell you his is not a marketing tool or a funny one-liner, but his actual birth name—his Government Name, which is also the title of his debut for Beatmart Recordings, the upstart music label spearheaded by producer Todd Collins (KJ-52, Out of Eden). What Collins does for Bishop here is similar to his output for KJ-52—bouncy, poppy beats and a slight old-school vibe. Unlike KJ and John Reuben, however, Bishop keeps his feet firmly planted in hip-hop territory, avoiding unnecessary excursions into the nether regions of rap-rock.

This hip-hop foundation is the right vehicle for Bishop's testimonial storytelling, which focuses on urban life and the afflictions of others in order to make a point about life in general. But while it's well intentioned and well produced, the album is peppered with the usual hip-hop clichés and thus loses much of its impact. Whether it's the irreplaceable "Intro," the shout-out track "Show Love," the inevitable party song ("Get Down"), the autobiographical account ("Government Name"), the token hip-hop lamentation ("Change the Game"), or the too-serious-for-the-album-but-let's-include-it-anyway "Amy's Song," it seems Bishop is following a script. It's fun and carefree, but too calculated and picture-perfect to determine which parts are truly Mr. Bishop, and which are merely part of the standard hip-hop playbook.

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