Lamp Mode (2011)
Review by LaRosa
Highlighting the character of God, while presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ and a biblical world view through hip-hop culture is the mission statement & vision of Lamp Mode Recordings. For nearly a decade the label has been hard at work at making this vision statement a reality in their music. With many talented artists in their ranks, innumerable lives have been transformed through their music. Starting his Lamp Mode career by featuring on label mate Timothy Brindle’s debut The Great Awakening, we got our first taste of the lowercase emcee Shai Linne. Since that time, he has released three solo efforts, all of which have garnered quite a bit of attention in the Christian hip-hop scene.
Existing to know Christ and to make Him known is what Shai Linne says his purpose is, and he attempts to do just that with his latest release on Lamp Mode titled The Attributes of God. So, what’s the point of this album? Well, to summarize, try taking the infinite and magnificent God that we serve and explaining who He is and why He does what He does. This is what Shai Linne is attempting to do with this release: he is making the character and magnitude of God known as He has revealed Himself through the text of the Bible. Needless to say, listening to this album is an experience like none other in hip-hop.
With an album as purposeful as The Attributes of God, it’s quite appropriate that it begins with a heartfelt spoken word piece from Blair Linne (Shai’s wife) that mimics what we find in the Psalms. With the tone set for the remainder of the album, Shai Linne quickly jumps into his craft with high impact songs like “The Glory of God (Not to Us),” which definitely can herald as a true anthem for all believers worldwide. From there, Shai Linne takes the listener on a sonic excursion through the Scriptures. One of the things to really like about this album is that Shai does quite a bit of experimenting & stepping out of boxes, particularly with his delivery. There are several points throughout the album where his delivery & content will remind you of different Christian rap emcees ranging from the obvious like the Ambassador & Christcentric to the more unlikely in Lecrae & Knowdaverbs, all while remaining true to himself. The guest appearances by artists like Timothy Brindle, J.R., and Giano are also spot on and help carry the album’s message home. All of these work together to make the album a very enjoyable and worshipful experience.
While it’s hard to pick any area in particular where Shai Linne fails with this album, if there’s anything to nitpick about, then it’s probably with his selection of beats on a few songs. Generally, Shai Linne is one of the better artists at picking production that compliments his voice; but, he stumbled a bit on this album. In his attempt to change up his sound and come from many different angles, he ended up picking a beat or two that his voice just wasn’t able to overpower, such as with “Our God Is In the Heavens” where it almost feels like he’s whining. Also, even though there is a heavy cinematic & worshipful experience that comes with listening to this album, with so many songs bordering at five minutes or longer, it can sometimes feel like it’s on the long side.
As a whole, The Attributes of God is a work of art, just as music should be. Shai Linne is a master of his craft and it really shines through on a project of this nature. He takes a very difficult subject and leaves you walking away with a feeling that God is as big and awesome as He truly is. Even with the minor faults, this album is as complete as it could possibly be. The content & lyrics are superb. The production is stellar. The God of the heavens is made known. What more could you really ask for? There are very few albums that garner said status, but this is one that every Christian hip-hop fan should have in their collection, hands down.