Indie (December 13, 2011)
Review by Aidan Severs
theBREAX didn’t let a week go by in 2011 without their name being in the collective consciousness of the Christian Hip Hop scene. Mixtapes, guest verses, videos, remixes, shows â€“ you name it, last year they D.I.Y.’ed it to swell the number of BREAXheads, consequently building an audible buzz and creating a monumental build up to an independently-released, underground LP: Never Arrive.
Living proof that hard work and perseverance is really worth something, theBREAX have created something pretty stunning â€“ I’ll make that clear from the off. The album contains pleas for the listener not to pigeon-hole the group as well as jokes about working out who they compare to; it sounds like a challenge, but actually the group are very adept at avoiding creating derivative music â€“ in simple terms, their output is creative and fresh. Their secular ties (a Blame One verse, an Exile beat, their previous Rawkus 50 exposure and a Fonzworth Bentley video appearance, for example) mean that they definitely remain relevant to the Hip Hop scene as a whole without isolating themselves in the CHH world – something of importance for those trying to reach unbelievers with the word.
Lyrically theBREAX are leading lights in the new wave of lyricism, with Ruslan fast making himself an ambassador for witty, entertaining yet poignant and relevant rhymes. theBREAX bring topics and concepts aplenty, as well as just plain old ill rhymes. The MCs litter their raps with references to their faith, firmly embedding them in modern culture, forming a positive musical experience which never comes across too preachy. Guest sings and raps are well chosen to represent the scene without compromising on the unity of the LP’s tracks; Blame One, Lecrae, Shad and Nomis all provide verses.
The overall sound of the album is impossible to pinpoint â€“ it molds together influences from Hip Hop’s 30 years of existence, making for a collection of tracks with credibility and indefinite appeal; it’s likely to appeal to most, from the more traditional Hip Hop fan to the kids who listen to modern ring-tone rap. From the anthemic, guitar-enhanced, slow, synth-fest of â€œIntroâ€ to the fusion of piano, organ and natural drums of â€œOutroâ€ via the infectious, stripped back â€œGet Betterâ€, the simplistic, dance floor vibes of â€œIf You Knewâ€, the straight-up, big beat of â€œtheBREAXâ€ and the jazz of â€œAppreciate Youâ€ the sonics of the album never get tedious despite production coming from a range of beat-makers; each track forms to create one very cohesive album. Jruckers, Cheesebeats, Jimmy Natural, DJ Rek, Exile, Sound Collage Musik and Hezekiah contribute the backdrops for the MCs’ presentation of their craft.
Never Arrive is 16 finely-crafted, well-sequenced tracks, not just some rhymes over some beats thrown together with some artwork. Its possible mass-appeal means this must be one of the albums of 2011 and the fact that they have achieved this without watering anything down â€“ not the message nor the music â€“ whilst remaining distinctively original, is something rarely achieved in an album release.