Indie (February 7, 2012)
Review by Aidan Severs
Californian-born Tha G.I.M. (an acronym for The God In Me and pronounced “Jim”) released his first album in 2005, it’s now 2012 and he’s about to drop his fourth LP; Supreme. Having performed alongside artists such as DJ Kool Herc, Kurtis Blow, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Lecrae and T Bone, surely this MC has got something worth hearing?
With many artists associated with the Christian Hip Hop scene claiming they don’t make “Christian Hip Hop” for whatever reason, it’s clear that categorizing music made by professing believers is difficult. Tha G.I.M.’s latest Supreme definitely suits the label though – this album is out and out Christian. Within the “Christian Hip Hop” genre artists inevitably have different objectives and approaches – Tha G.I.M. doesn’t expound on difficult theologies and neither does he set out to convince non-believers particularly; this album is squarely an encouragement to existing believers. Supreme acts as a reminder of the basics of our faith – almost like a Hip Hop catechism.
“I Believe”, with its nod-inducing drums, sums up the project – Tha G.I.M. is simply spilling out what he believes across the 14 tracks. With a clear and simple flow and an unobtrusive but slightly generic vocal tone Tha G.I.M puts things in layman’s terms – there aren’t too many lyrical tricks here, nor poetic language – the themes are put on a plate for the listener, ensuring that everything is understood. The part message, part life story, of “Perseverance” is a well-crafted and impactful track which convinces the listener, using both the bible and personal experience, that by God’s grace we can persevere.
Musically, Supreme is partly without the classic West Coast sound previously heard on tracks like “Kingdom Affiliate” although the title track, produced by Wit, brings that feeling back, making for a stand-out track. “Get It How I Live It” produced by Centric, “What Up” produced by Spec (which is the first Hip Hop beat I’ve ever heard which samples an owl’s hoot) and “The Slave & The Master” produced by Tony Stone all feature that mid-noughties West Coast production sound (as best heard on The Game’s Doctor’s Advocate). Only in a couple of places (“Out of this World” produced by Centric and “Grace and Mercy” produced by Tee-Wyla) does Supreme pander to modern requirements with more up-to-date production sounds. “A New Day” produced by Peculiar Image Productions has an optimistic gospel feel to it meaning it’s a memorable moment.
Supreme is a solid LP with a fair amount of mass-appeal within the Christian community. Those who don’t go in for the more alternative, underground, lyrical style of Hip Hop yet aren’t really fans of the Dirty South or Pop sounds might find something to bump on this album. It’s a professional, creditable release, which whilst being nothing too ground-breaking, is a good listen which will stand up to repeated spins.