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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Praise Life: Beyond 1.0

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Feb
Praise Life: Beyond 1.0
Sounds like … a worshipful collision of R&B, hip-hop and soul, as if Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton, Jay-Z and Destiny's Child had learned the art of worshiping GodAt a glance … not as reverent as one would hope, Praise Life: Beyond 1.0 still succeeds at offering well produced R&B and hip-hop with a worshipful bentTrack Listing We Should Praise Him - Ricky B & V3 Beyond - Zondaflex The Only One - Antonio Neal & Lisa McClendon Here I Am to Worship - Nirva Dorsaint Lift Him Up - Shonlock Glory to You - DaMonsta Heart of Worship - Shanea Askew Great Jehovah - Soul So Into You - Jason Eskridge & M.O.C. Steppin' (In the New Year) - Antonio Neal

Although the worship music overload seems to have plateaued, record labels still keep churning them out. But if you think you've seen or heard everything in the genre, think again. Out of left field comes Praise Life, a new product line EMI Gospel is calling "praise and worship music for the hip-hop generation." Indeed, Praise Life sounds a lot like a rhythmic pop radio station where all of the featured artists know a thing or two about praising God.

Chief producer Antonio Neal—himself a recording artist—and helper Mo Henderson could've gone the easy route by recording an album of popular worship covers by simply giving them an urban facelift. Instead, much of this compilation consists of original expressions of worship, which come across as very idiosyncratic given the compilation's urban flair. The trick works, and you need not look further than the two lone staples ("Heart of Worship," "Here I Am to Worship").

Though the beats are thick, the production is glossy and the "street" feel of the tracks is palpable, the lyrics are Christ-centered, delivered either by way of rappers ("Beyond," "Lift Him Up"), crooners ("Great Jehovah," "Steppin'"), or vocal groups ("We Should Praise Him"). None are established artists, but rather up-and-comers and independent cats, which forces you to focus on the songs rather than the star power (or lack thereof) behind them.

At times, the spirited, carefree atmosphere of Praise Life dangerously mimics the hard-driving cadence of an ordinary hip-hop party, losing some of its spiritual edge. But on the whole, it's a good example of what worship music would sound like if married to R&B, and it's a breath of fresh air amidst other more typical worship selections.

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