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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Higher Definition

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Nov
Higher Definition
Sounds like … the street-edged swagger of the Wu-Tang Clan, the wordplay of Jay-Z, and the poppiness of the Bad Boy label, with lyrics that are strictly vertical in natureAt a glance … The Cross Movement don't deviate from their formula of successfully putting the gospel in an extremely credible and accessible East Coast contextTrack ListingCivilian AffairsRedefinedIt's TimeHey YallLord You AreHip-Hop-cracyCard SharkQuestionsOn In HereJerseys and FittedsBig WordsEpiphanyCheck For UsWe

If you ask a kid from the Bronx how he likes his hip-hop, he will likely use terms like "gangsta," "gully," and "grimy" to describe his rap of choice. Though terms like that might scare your average bookstore clerk, they're commonplace adjectives to describe the music from the streets. To this point, the fledgling Christian hip-hop scene has been adept at developing more progressive, Southern-fried hip-hop. The West Coast is still very underground. But what about that thick East Coast sound? This beat-driven, crank-it-up, straight-talking type of hip-hop is favored by most American fans, and the sales tallies for the latest by Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Kanye West prove it.

Leave it to Philly-based The Cross Movement to be the standard bearers in the craft of making hood-friendly jams, but with a gospel bent. Both ministry-focused and extremely on point rhythmically, their fifth album, Higher Definition, is unapologetic in its exploration of Christian themes without being preachy or clichéd. The crew may not be quite the lyrical powerhouse—they lack the playfulness of L.A. Symphony or the sophistication of Mars ILL, for example—but that is merely secondary when all East Coast rap is concerned with is providing a good bounce and an easily digestible message.

From the opening strains of the military-themed "Civilian Affairs" and the relentless "It's Time," some will likely find Higher Definition to be too hardcore for their tastes, as it doesn't let up in terms of rhythmic aggressiveness. At times the crew will pause for a breather, as they do in the worshipful "Lord You Are" and the inquisitive, jazz-inflected "Questions." But for the most part, they simply dole out bangers left and right, hoping to add a little groove to a genre (both Christian and mainstream) that oftentimes takes itself too seriously.