Review by Aidan Severs
MC and high school teacher Paradox already has some great material under his belt both as a solo artist and as part of various groups and collectives. The father of two has worked with a remarkable selection of Christian Hip Hop’s leading lights and he’s a staunch Joni Mitchell fan – that’s got to make for some good music, no?
Paradox has matured since his last time in the lab (the still good Called To Mind); it’s his cadence and vocal tone that benefit most whilst his lyrical ability remains strong and in many cases spiritually challenging. Another strength of Paradox’s is his capacity to create a variety of tracks. Last Time is a brutally honest exposé of a struggle with drink whereas Forecast is a conceptual track which uses weather metaphors to describe life. He’ll Come Back is full of gospel truth whereas Here Lies gets somewhat political.
Despite the potency of the words of Paradox, the fact that the 1 MC + 1 DJ/Producer formula has been used for Mending makes for one of the most powerful aspects of this LP; DJ Sean P’s production is just sublime. Mending takes you on a journey through Hip Hop’s most classic influences starting with the whining persistence of some Bluesy guitar on the rowdy Paradox X Sean P and ending with the solid boom bap soul of Lift taking in the fuzzy funk of He’ll Come Back, the jungle drums of I Don’t Believe Them, the Rhythm n Blues of Last Time and ‘not Worthy’s chopped-up ballad along the way. Despite the sample pool being this diverse the album has amazing consistency whilst keeping things interesting.
One thing that will stand out to the astute Christian Hip Hop fan is the impressive guest list – a selection of the genre’s who’s who including Manchild (of Mars ILL), Sivion, Sintax the Terrific, Freddie Bruno (all of Deepspace 5), Braille, Ruslan of theBREAX, JustMe and Wonder Brown (both of Scribbling Idiots). Each guest only adds to the equation; each bringing their distinct styles to the melting pot. Some even contribute to stand out moments, IZK being a great example of this as he brings his expressive spoken word vocals to I Don’t Believe Them.
Paradox and Sean P have put together a solid and nicely traditional Hip Hop album packed with variety without resorting to tasteless pop tactics. This is a record that I believe would stand out in the secular underground scene, just as Braille’s Shades of Grey did back in ’04 and is a release that should not be overlooked this year.