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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Open Book

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jul
Open Book
Sounds like … Lecrae, Ambassador, The Tonic, Phanatik, Trip Lee, and other associates hailing from the Cross Movement camp of hip-hop.At a glance … unflinching lyrics and a hard-hitting production are the identity marks of Open Book, with another helping of uncompromising, in-your-face gospel rap from one of Christian hip-hop's rising stars.Track Listing Intro
Who Am I? (feat. Tye Tribbett)
Man Up (feat. John Wells & The Tonic)
Star Struck (feat. The Ambassador)
Price Tag (feat. Trip Lee)
13/30 Interlude
13/30 (feat. Twyse)
Every Day (feat. Tia Pittman)
Why I Do
That Great Day (feat. Donnie McClurkin)
I Need You (feat. IZZY)
Open Book
Rose Interlude (feat. Lisa McClendon)
Rose (feat. Lisa McClendon)
Fig Tree

Can Da' T.R.U.T.H. and nothing but Da' T.R.U.T.H. save Christian hip-hop? Not only is the emcee one of the top-selling solo rappers in the genre, but he's also the one with perhaps the most exposure between the high-profile opening slot on Kirk Franklin's national tour, appearances on the BET network, a much talked-about DVD concert, and raving endorsements from gospel favorites like Tye Tribbett and Donnie McClurkin. He's got it going on.

That rising star is something of a mystery when you consider the emcee's background. Unlike other Christian rappers who have been rescued from the hood by Jesus and other similarly dramatic life-altering circumstances, Da' T.R.U.T.H. prides in being the exact opposite—a clean-cut, suburban kid who didn't even like rap growing up. He's even wearing a polo shirt for the cover of his third album Open Book—you can't get more un-hip-hop than that.

Still, this conflict-free testimony is also an asset for the thematic album, which unlike most holy hip-hop isn't really aimed to evangelize or reach out to the lost. Instead, T.R.U.T.H. uses Open Book to encourage believers not to be ashamed of keeping to the straight and narrow, and to remind us that there is a reward in living consistently and completely for Christ. It's a message of identity that shows up in nearly every song, and one that Christian teens need to hear more of.

While the lyrical scope is clearly defined, Open Book isn't as immediate rhythmically. For a message this urgent, the beats need to be crisp and engaging, not dark and foreboding. The rhythmic beds here are still top-notch, but they're not necessarily inviting, at times more distracting than complementary. But aside from the limited pop quotient, hip-hop heads will still find much to savor in this effort, one of the strongest cases for holy Christian living in recent rap memory.

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