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Hip Hope Hits 2007

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Aug
Hip Hope Hits 2007
Sounds like … a cross-sample of various hip-hop styles, including East Coast, pop-rap, crunk, underground, rap-rock, and the occasional oddball selection. At a glance … still not quite all it could be, this hip-hop assemblage is a decent though not exhaustive sampling of what the Christian rap genre has to offerTrack Listing Changes - GRITS Stepped On – Pettidee Gotta Go Now – DJ Maj More – Mars ILL Crazy – Liquid Hey Now – tobyMac Nuisance – John Reuben Let It Go – M.O.C. Money Song – L.A. Symphony Preacher Man – Japhia Life Plain White Rapper (Kalimba Remix) – KJ-52 Lean – Shonlock Rodeo – Manafest Mutual – Verbs Go On – B. Reith

"How do you like your hip-hop: underground or kinda pop?" That's the question that now-retired underground eminence SUP The Chemist posited in his sleeper masterpiece, Dust. It's an inquiry that's become increasingly harder to answer in 2006, arguably the quietest year for Christian hip-hop in some time. This puts Hip Hope Hits 2007—the third installment in the still-young Hip Hope franchise—in a strange predicament, as there aren't that many proven hits to highlight.

Still, Gotee Records did all it could, recruiting tracks from its expansive hip-hop vaults and borrowing a few from competitors, to mixed effects. Though the veterans (GRITS, DJ Maj, Mars ILL) lead the pack authoritatively, the compilation gets off to a rather subdued start, at least for a set that boasts to contain "the hottest positive hip-hop of the year." It's indeed an underwhelming listen at times, even during its attempts at lightheartedness—tobyMac's "Hey Now" is funky but two years old, and John Reuben's pop/rock ditty "Nuisance" simply doesn't belong here.

If anything, this collection is at least a good excuse to get ahold of material not available anywhere else, like Shonlock's on-point "Lean" and M.O.C.'s chaotic "Let It Go," two tracks culled from their upcoming 2007 debuts. There's also the inoffensive "Go On," from Gotee's newest white rapper B. Reith, a quirky-voiced emcee who sounds like a cross between KJ-52 and (!) Jason Mraz. But the real exclusive here is the return of hip-hop pioneer Verbs, whose soulful "Mutual" gives a sneak peek at his forthcoming The Groundwork Theory.

All else is just a fifty-fifty combination of winners (Pettidee's crunk anthem "Stepped On") and losers (KJ's unfunny "Plain White Rapper"), plus the occasional oddball (Manafest's rap-rock offering "Rodeo"). Oh, and once again my question is, "Where in the world is The Cross Movement for these albums?"

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