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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Thug Love

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Apr
Thug Love
Sounds like … Southern-styled hip-hop with "crunk" and party influences akin to Lil John, Petey Pablo, David Banner, Nelly, Ludacris, Three G Mafia, and GRITSAt a glance … Pettidee's fifth album, with its catchy hooks and shout-along chants, will generally satisfy fans of the party hip-hop genre, but the repetition and production values may grate on the nerves of othersTrack Listing Glide Aside Stepped On (Ice Whites) Don't Stop Never Give Up Represent Run for Cover Can't Make It Without You Butterflies Huh Man Roll Call Push Learn to Let Go Come Wit' Dat Fire

It only seemed a matter of time for a Christian rapper to apply "crunk" (slang for "crazy drunk") to the Lord's work. Actually, Pettidee has been recording party hip-hop since 1999's Still Alive, before Ludacris and Outkast made it fashionable a few years later. Raised in the gang-infested neighborhoods of Jacksonville, Florida, 33-year-old Dewayne Petty is all about sharing the love of Christ through his testimony and his love of Southern-styled hip-hop.

Pettidee is proud of the creative effort that went into his fifth release, Thug Love, and to some extent it shows. Starting off with "Glide Aside," he tells hindrances to move out of the way as he carries out his ministry, setting the stage for pure party anthems like "Represent," "Never Give Up," and "Push" (featuring GRITS and Verbs) that aren't ashamed to express the joys and challenges of faith. But he's actually at his best with songs that address weightier subjects like abuse ("Butterflies") and gang life ("Huh Man"), as well as his tender side with a love letter to his wife ("Can't Make It Without You," featuring Antonio Neal) and the confessional "Learn to Let Go," built around a rich piano loop.

Still, the guy may be an acquired taste. With his gold-plated choppers ("grillz") and throaty growled rap, he comes across as part gangsta thug, part Dr. Teeth (from The Muppet Show's Electric Mayhem house band). "Come Wit' Dat Fire" has an intensity that's engaging yet almost comical, and the radio single "Don't Stop" similarly has a two-note pop hook that's catchy yet annoying. The production values are often quite good for Christian hip-hop, but occasionally hampered by some cheap-sounding synth loops.

Though it may not be the most innovative album, this is still generally more accessible than the typical underground Christian hip-hop effort. In trying to balance fun, creativity, ministry, and credibility, Pettidee generally succeeds in his seemingly incompatible fusion of crunk and Christianity.

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