BEC Recordings (Sept. 26, 2006)
Reviewed by Ahnon Knomis
Overall of of
Trying to describe the Canadian, Caucasian, skate boarding, Christian rapper named Manafest and his sophomore album “Glory” is hard enough… but I’ll say it like this. “Glory” is like the analogy of taking Linkin Park, Gym Class Heroes, and KJ52 and putting them all into one of those science fiction, x-men type of power sucking machines to generate a super villain or hero. Then watering down the content a bit so its digestible enough for a 12 year old in a youth group to enjoy. How’s that? ha!
“Glory” is the result of great production, decent raps, and a few exceptionally talented engineers and producers behind the BEC label. The project shows solid effort towards putting out a marketable product for the mainstream Christian music audience that is aimed at youth group aged fans of rap/rock such as the secular artists I mentioned above.
A clear focus of the album was reaching the younger generation with surface level topics spreading a Gospel message of hope and lyrics blanketed by power chords and strong backup vocals. Trevor McNevan of the Christian rock group Thousand Foot Krutch put his mark on the project providing the power ballad “Impossible”. When you match Manafest’s raps over rock you get reminded of any number of Linkin Park tracks especially when Trevor adds his strong voice to the mix. Travor was also responsible for producing the track with contributions from Adam Messinger as well. Speaking of Adam Messinger, he along with Manafest (according to the liner notes) appear to be responsible for the bulk of the production. Without familiarity of Adam’s work I have to give credit where credit is due and say that they did an excellent job providing a solid sound scape.
A few highlights for me where “Runaway” that hits very hard on the low end boom-bap and replaced guitar rifts with soft piano keys and bass lines. Enter in soft female back-ups then comes Manafest’s story teller rhymes speaking on a kid stuck in the streets dealing with remorse and regret for running away from home. This is a good example where I say the topics are surface level for a clear younger audience was the intent. No social issues being targeted here, no deep Spiritual inflections, its pretty much a story of regret for running away from home wishing he could get back to what once was but not sure if its possible to do so. A few lines turned me off like “where is Daddy / is he still mad at me / I wonder would he have me / back in the home / back in the zone / back where I can eat / where there’s a seat and use the phone”…. I mean lets face it. Doesn’t get much more elementary than that. A really amazing production but hands down could have gone deeper. Maybe had it not been intended for a younger audience? Still having said that I think BEC and Manafest’s potential to hit their market and relay their messages is spot on. Maybe just not for the 18 and up crowd.
“Dreams” is another one of those incredibly produced tracks and all in all I give Manafest props for his catchy hooks here. Content I was again looking for more but the message was clear… Kid does all the good things in life, stays away from drugs, doesn’t get into trouble even know he’s tempted… Other kid does the opposite… Guess who ends up married to the super model? haha! Yea… you get the drift. Still beat and hook was fresh.
“Critics” is a more Gospel message, again surface level basically saying ignore the critics cause God’s got your back.
“Where Are You” is a track focusing on a child dealing with the loss of his father who committed suicide and asking “why did you leave me / where you thinking about me / do you love me?”… A touching track that will certainly make those with similar experiences relate and hopefully seek solace in God.
By now you’ve probably came to the same conclusion that I have. The album although containing solid music seamed more contrived by a committee of analysts coming up with a list of topics that would be consumable and safe for mainstream Christian music and acceptable by the same crowds as KJ52 does (just an example). Although successful for their intended audience those of us who are a little older and who’s tastes are a little more rigid may not quite enjoy this – but your kids surely will. A good alternative to all the crap crowding the air waves and television screens. All criticism aside its worth picking up if that’s exactly what your looking for.
For fans of: P.O.D., Gym Class Heros, KJ-52, Sean P, Braille, Thousand Foot Krutch, Rap/Rock combination’s