Lamp Mode Recordings (October 19, 2010)
Review by Aidan Severs
After featuring on Timothy Brindle’s The Great Awakening in 2003, Stephen the Levite signed to and dropped his To Die Is Gain album on Lamp Mode Recordings in 2006. Both the artist and the record label have become known for releasing theologically-rich, unashamed Christian music which appeals outside the realms of the typical hip-hop audience.
The Forerunner EP, as the name suggests, is the precursor to a forthcoming LP and on the whole it certainly gets taste buds tingling. At only 6 tracks long it’s a nice bite-size piece of what Stephen is capable of: rugged, underground, credible hip-hop injected with a healthy shot of musings on the Bible.
The Appetizer sets things off with I-don’t-know-how-many-bars-worth of hungry spitting, no choruses, and its title is more than apt. Its live show-style production is raw and rowdy giving Stephen’s diatribe even more energy â€“ pretty much how hip-hop music should be. Posse cut Friction, which features Mark Arthur, Anon and Zae Da Blacksmith, is a great example of how to pick guest spots â€“ choose MCs with a different flow, a different voice but the same point of view â€“ in this case a spiritual perspective on life’s trials and why they are necessary. The remix of Membership gives another forum to the important issues of belonging to a church.
If you’re a fan of those female spoken word tracks that some rap albums have then you’ll like Shrink Me but for such a short record a track on which you don’t hear the artist whose name is on the front might come as a disappointment. Lyrically Slept In? is good and the production is excellent but some may have a problem theologically with Stephen’s pre-tribulation stand point. Whatever your views are it certainly provokes thought and promotes accepting Christ before its too late.
The Forerunner EP contains some meaty hip-hop both in content and style and whilst this is only a foretaste it’s fairly satisfying. Most tracks will take a few listens to fully digest and repeated listening only reminds you of Biblical truths, characters and stories â€“ and that can’t be a bad thing.
For fans of: Redeemed Thought, Shai Linne, Lampmode Recordings, lyricism