ILLECT Recordings (December 12, 2006)
Review by Matthew Kern
Deepspace fans can rejoice and exhale as Sintax.the.terrific once again blesses the ears and minds of the listening masses with his newest release Curb Appeal. One of the most articulate and thought-provoking members of the Deepspace5 family gives to us in his second solo album a wealth of things to consider as he successfully brings together the mysteries of the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life as finite beings. Curb Appeal is one of those albums whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While there are certainly songs that stand out more than others, it was difficult to pick particular favorites because of how important each track was to the feel of the album as a whole. Sintax gives to us in Curb Appeal a rich tapestry that is to be enjoyed as a complete work.
There are consistent themes presented throughout the album that grow in depth as the album progresses. One very noticeable trend found throughout the tracks is the notion that all are welcomed in both the journey of faith and the experience of hip-hop. When Sintax speaks of God during the course of this album, he always seems to do so in a manner that never creates a divide between the Creator and the created. He succeeds in doing just this in the track “Soul Weep” as he candidly expresses not only his own emotions, but also the emotions God bears. A God who cares and (as the track presents) weeps is presented here as the thoughts and feelings of the divine are explored. This warm sense of welcome is also evident in the title track “Curb Appeal.” This is one of the more up-tempo cuts on the album where Sintax is able to flex his lyrical muscle a bit. Yet even here there is the inescapable invitation to the listener to come into the realm of hip-hop, as he writes,
“Some of y’all yappin how you raised the bar,
so I stepped over it, lowered it, now everyone can follow”
The listener is challenged to become participator in this track as Sintax takes the topics of hip-hop and life and turns them over to the listener, asking them how they will approach each.
Sintax successfully allows his innermost thoughts and emotions to be exposed during the course of Curb Appeal. This refreshing touch of his own personality not only helps to welcome into the album’s conversation any who may be listening, but also gives the project a sense of genuineness. Sintax has proven himself to be an intelligent and thoughtful individual who is able to aptly transfer his ideas to a beat. Yet he never appears to lord these extraordinary traits over the listener; instead he is willing to expose himself to the listening audience during the course of the album. In one line from the track “Crowbar Method,” he does so very bluntly, stating,
“Didn’t want to write this, [it’s] hard to admit love
for a people and a culture you can never be a part of”
Sintax allows us access to his personal world in “King Charles” as he takes us for a nostalgic tour of his hometown. Through his poetic eyes he paints a beautiful picture of the town he so loves and the longing he has to return to it. In “Moonlighting” he walks us through his hectic day-to-day schedule as he jumps between being a family man, a lawyer and an artist. In each of these aspects of his life, Sintax makes sure to touch on how his faith and following of God is integrated into each one.
Sintax’s strongest point, however, doesn’t necessarily reside in his ability to make the listener feel welcome or to bear himself fully exposed on the tracks. If his preceding showings on his first solo album Simple Moves and his appearances on the various Deepspace5 records have revealed anything to us about Sintax, it is that he is a theological wiz. While the validity and acceptance of the theologies he presents are up for interpretation (as is always the case with this topic), one thing is clear â€“ the theological statements and positions he presents in Curb Appeal are the result of his own deep reflection of life, God and Word. Sintax is not one to hastily say something about the Almighty or the Son just for the sake of making sound good on a track. If the listener is to only pay closer attention to the words he speaks, Sintax’s spiritual and intellectual depth become undeniably clear. Perhaps the most important result of his contributions in this area is that, in the end, the listener benefits. “Hurricane Crush” is a track that exudes confidence in the potential one has in a life of faith. “Immanuel” revisits the birth of Christ as Sintax portrays in his own words the immeasurable importance of that moment in human history when God broke into the world. Also presented in this track is Sintax’s take on the inherent and deep longing for God that we as finite beings have. “Make Believe” delves even deeper into the mysteries of God, as the ideas of belief and faith take center stage. The passion Sintax has for this idea of faith is beyond evident in this track, and leaves the listener riding high on the wonders that are found in God.
Sintax set the bar fairly high for himself with the depth and breadth of skill and thought found in his first album, Simple Moves. In his second solo release, Curb Appeal, he did not fail to impress in these same areas. Once again Sintax has provided for the listening faithful a masterpiece by way of the marriage of hip-hop and faith. This is an album available to all who are willing to consider the provoking thoughts Sintax displays during the course of this journey. The only possible thing I could ask for in this album is a tad more diversity in the feel of the tracks. The appearances of Sivion and the Scribbling Idiots do switch things up a bit during the course of the album, though only seemingly to add a livelier tone to the overall project. However, the unparalleled depth of each track absolutely makes up for what small bit of diversity that might not be present. I don’t think it was any mistake Curb Appeal is both opened and closed by two somber and introspective tracks. “Broken Toys” welcomes the listener into the theological journey that is to follow, and “One More” concludes the album by leaving the listener with a challenge to reflect and respond on the things contained in the tracks before it. This is no album for those looking for smash-hit singles or repetitive choruses. Sintax is uncompromisingly articulate without ever alienating the listener. His mixture of conviction, articulation and passion provide seeds of growth for those who have the ear to truly hear what he has to say. This finely fermented brew is not to be guzzled down, but rather sipped and taken in as to enjoy just how rich and deep the flavor is.
For fans of: Mars ILL / Manchild, Deepspace5, Playdough
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