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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Sounds like … modern hip-hop that blends melodic hooks and world music sounds to the rap and beatsAt a Glance … a Christian hip-hop album intent on leading the genre to a new artistic standard, much like L.A. Symphony hopes to do someday.

The Tunnel Rats, the group that's launched several well-known Christian rappers, such as LPG and Peace 586, pull no punches in their ministry. The message on Tunnelvision is sometimes so in your face that the light of the truth will hurt your eyes. The group favors a modern hip-hop sound that's raw and underground, but still artistic and well done. Their song "Motivate" exemplifies their innovative sound. The song blends rapid machine-gun rapping with a Latin-sounding melodic hook, smartly programmed drums, and (get this) a harpsichord. You never know quite what to expect from track to track on this album.

I applaud Tunnel Rats for riding the fine line that challenges the artistry and originality of Christian artists, while taking aim at mainstream music's lack of integrity and ethics. Sev Statik's self-titled track on the album is a great example of this, bathing the sound with strings and Middle Eastern instruments. Another challenging track is Zane's "Ladies," which tackles biblical feminism with the same spirit that Salt n' Pepa brought to the topic years ago. "2 Cents" uses jazz-soaked hip-hop to deliver its observation that Christians are quick to judge, as well as its challenge to evangelize through action rather than words. The dissonant sounding "Line Finish" is a smart rephrasing of I Corinthians 9:24-27, and the catchy hip-hop of "Master Plan" is as sobering a statement of the world we live in as the book of Jeremiah. I'm only giving you a small sample of a lot of music — Tunnelvision features a whopping 70 minutes of music over the course of twenty-two tracks.

The Tunnel Rats are obviously not for all tastes. You need an appreciation for rap and hip-hop to enjoy it, and their lyrics are challenging and convicting. Some of the songs don't work as well as others. "For the Heads" has a little too much ego in it, as well as some questionable words. In addition, the song's argument seems a little unfocused. Songs such as this make the album a little too angry sounding, as if Tunnel Rats has a massive chip on their shoulder. Some of that is warranted because of their genre and their background, and I certainly don't mean to imply Christian hip-hop needs to be sugary sweet and positive. They make up for the anger with tracks such as "Remember," which is packed with more scriptural truth than any other song I can think of (I'm talking about quantity and quality here). Tunnelvision succeeds because it grabs the ear and stimulates the mind, challenging listeners to take a hard look at themselves and then encouraging them to change by the grace of God. We could use more Christian artists as bold and creative as Tunnel Rats.