12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Gadfly

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jun
The Gadfly
Sounds like … old-school peers SUP The Chemist, Peace586, marsILL, and other purists who continually strive to preserve the street credibility of the hip-hop cultureAt a Glance … incorporating elements both old-school and new, LPG's farewell album is an important case study of the current state of hip-hop, as well as a call for our need to go back to the basics

Before reviewing this CD, I had no clue what gadfly meant. I gave the disc several spins, bopped my head to the hard-hitting beats, and gave deep thought to the lyrics, but I never "got" the album title. So I looked up gadfly and found these two definitions: "any of various flies … that bite, annoy, or agitate livestock into movement" and "a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism." Once I put that second definition into the context of this body of work, I suddenly got it.

LPG may have not intended it, but The Gadfly–the third and last offering for the duo–feels like a concept album meant to educate young emcees and hip-hop aficionados about how to keep it real in an industry saturated with contrived, mass-marketed hip-hop, both Christian and mainstream. Having honed their skills in the streets, far removed from the glitz and the glamour of commercialized rap, LPG offers bits of wisdom to those aspiring to follow in their footsteps. "Place Called Hip-Hop," with its punchy old-school beat and subtle live bassline, opens the CD nostalgically, noting what hip-hop used to be before Band-Aid-donning soundalikes and b-boys with fat platinum chains took over.

Pop and R&B followers may notice that "Old Emcees" stylistically resembles the Eve and Gwen Stefani collaboration "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" from a couple of years ago, sans the thematic glorification of the pseudo urban power of females. Rather, it reinforces the idea that veteran emcees won't stoop to the sellout tactics typical of rap's newbies-all taking place over a simple live drum sample and sweet wah-wah guitar sample. Next up is the bounce-in-your-spot beat of "Never Did I," a blazing party track that encourages listeners not to buy the tired, old platitudes of many a hip-hop darling gracing the Hot 100–or even of those who claim to preach the gospel with their flows.

That's not their only indictment of so-called "gospel rappers." Both the underground "Liquid" and the interestingly produced "Wackness Like" scold those who use Jesus as a medium for dishing out questionable "art." Speculations as to who they're referring to aside, the boys from LPG criticize the "hustlers" and the "biters" who offer quick pat-on-the-back solutions and rehashed styles in order to present the Good News, later pointing out that their lack of vision and originality keeps them confined within the walls of the church, rendering them useless to preach to anyone other than the proverbial choir.

As with other Uprok releases, this CD's heady subject matter and serious declarations are best digested by diehard hip-hop enthusiasts-or at least by those who put more stock into lyrics than hooks. The Gadfly has both of these components, but from time to time the "underground" feel is more prevalent, like in "Record Keeps Spinning" or "Wackness Like," where the beats are irregular, the samples old school, the atmosphere dark, and the motifs a bit brooding, forcing you to heed what's being communicated. Some will see this as an asset, whereas many mainstream rap fans will likely skip ahead and only groove to the tracks that are more rhythmically engaging.

The Gadfly is LPG's farewell. Now focusing on solo careers and production, the lyrical tandem of Jurny Big and Dax will no longer record together. But their hopes for a better tomorrow and for up-and-coming cats to realize that rocking the mic is no easy matter will live on through this album, a timely testament to how to make it without compromising your values. Though it may seem one-dimensional in scope, The Gadfly's core message succeeds at conveying the need to impact our culture without settling for presenting a half-hearted gospel, but a vibrant one that promotes forward-thinking motion and progress within the soul. As one of the album's interludes fittingly points out, that's LPG's sole desire: "to pick at you, just enough to cause a reaction, [for] any movement is better than none." Just like a gadfly.