Reach Records (2011)
Review by Aidan Severs
Most of y’all know Reach Records, but in case you don’t, here’s what they do: they release Southern Hip Hop with an unashamed gospel message. There’s no wonder Pro is on Reach’s roster as he does exactly the type of Rap music that the label releases. In many respects Dying To Live lives up to expectations of the label and the artist.
Comparisons are likely to be drawn between Pro and label mate Lecrae and on the whole they do share common ground (they both do ‘Reach Records Hip Hop’). The major point of difference is that Pro’s music is much more ‘street’ (for want of a better phrase, but you know what I mean if I say that) and less commercial sounding. The production and lyrics both shape the album’s feel.
Pro often relies on taking Rap’s language and current trends and flipping them to make them ‘Christian’, and in this sense the LP is contemporary (see ‘Full Court Mess’, ‘Going In’, ‘Merked Pt. 2’ and ‘Never Back Down’). Sometimes this can grate on the listener’s ear, sometimes it sounds a little forced and sometimes it sounds secular (not always a bad thing, not always a good thing). This said, the album is saturated with thoughts, concepts and observations shaped by a biblical world view.
The production is nicely varied with a few rock-tinged tracks actually being the stand outs where the beat is concerned (see ‘So Far Gone’ and ‘Full Court Mess’). ‘Mission To Mars’ has a fairly unique sound, whereas ‘Get It’ reworks The Neptunes’ ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ template. ‘Beautiful’, predictably, is the most poppy-sounding track on the LP and whilst it has a much needed message it’s ‘This Can’t Be’ that probably has the most mass appeal, and it’s a great track too.
Dying To Live is a solid, bonafide Hip Hop album and whilst it’s not anything innovative, fans of the label’s output and the Southern sound are bound to enjoy this release. Pro has put together a solid hour’s worth of credible tracks – a CD which, in the hands of a non-believer, could be life-transforming; this is one to give to a Southern Hip Hop head who needs the gospel.
For fans of: Reach Records