Lamp Mode Recordings (October 16, 2012)
Review by Aidan Severs
Buy this album: SphereofhiphopStore.com
For a good few years Lamp Mode Records would have been defined by their sound as well as their theology-driven lyrics. These days there is no “Lamp Mode sound.” O.K., so Json broke the mold a while ago, but the production on S.O.’s “So It Begins” began to depart from the typical aesthetic of Timothy Brindle and Shai Linne’s earlier albums and then Shai Linne himself truly shook off the shackles of the traditional Hip Hop sound with his album “The Attributes of God.” Timothy Brindle and Stephen The Levite brought it back with their latest LPs whilst Json continued doing his thing, then we started getting wind of the new signing God’s Servant and his music: something new, production-wise, for Lamp Mode.
And that’s what makes the greatest impression. Here we have an album full of the usual rhyming doctrine, but one which doesn’t sound dissimilar to the average Reach Records release – make of that what you will, but that knowledge is important to the prospective listener. I’m not usually one to draw comparisons as I deem it to be lazy, but God’s Servant’s vocal tone reminds me a lot of Lecrae and Pro. Perhaps we can deduce that Lamp Mode are aiming to branch out to a different group of Hip Hop fans, and we can’t fault them for that as this album, in the right hands, could change a life.
With its catchy chorus, God’s Servant covers relationships candidly on Boy Meets Girl (as his label mates have also done on recent albums) although the majority of the album focuses on basic Christian truths in the form of autobiographical and often encouraging-to-others songs. All In featuring Christon Gray is one of those tracks that sounds familiar even on first listen; it’s one of those tracks you find yourself singing when you didn’t even realise you knew the words – and that’s a good thing in my books. Plenty of the songs here have great melodies incorporated into the beats; Lay It Down for example and the dubstep breakdown in finale track Worthy Is The Lamb is effective in emphasizing the message.
Not many albums these days truly contain original-sounding material, but this one does. Oh the Deep is the stand-out track on this album, perhaps simply because it’s like nothing I’ve heard in Hip Hop before. Kicking off with only a Eye of the Tiger-style monotone muted guitar rhythm and Lauren Monique singing “Oh The Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus” it’s clear that it’s something quite special. Then you realize it features Timothy Brindle and Shai Linne and you know nothing else on the record will top it. Taking a song from 1875 and making it relevant and dope in 2012 is a real skill – hats off. Elsewhere on the album there are verses from S.O., Trip Lee and The Ambassador – voices who fit the sonic and message of the album well.
Witness also has an element of originality about it, and quietly cements itself as a lyrically great track. With its reference to recent Kanye/Jay-Z lyrics and gently challenging lines like “I’d rather be awkward than not helping someone to see” this is a rallying call to all Christians to be lights to the world. Eyes on Him is a great reminder of Jesus’ words on worrying in Matthew 6 and God’s Servant applies it well to real-life situations.
God’s Servant has produced a very competent and polished debut album which, stylistically, will appeal to a wide-sector of the market. Although it does have the aforementioned highlights, it would have benefited from an album-wide uniqueness in its sound in order to help it stand out against its contemporaries.