Indie (August 7, 2012)
Review by Aidan Severs
Buy this album: Bandcamp
The links between the Christcentric camp and the Lamp Mode fold go deep with Evangel possibly being the strongest link having dropped his album ‘Expository Journey’ on Lamp Mode at the same time as realizing his Christcentric vision. Another strong link has emerged – Zae Da Blacksmith. You’ll have heard his features on Stephen the Levite’s ‘Forerunner EP’ and ‘The Last Missionary’ LP, Timothy Brindle’s ‘The Restoration’ and on Bear Fruit’s ‘Fruit Cocktail’ compilation but now it’s time he’s known for his own releases: Zae presents ‘The Mosaic Mixtape’ in collaboration with Lamp Mode’s DJ Average Joe.
You might sigh at the thought of another mixtape – let’s face it, these days they’re generally not very good. Well this one is a more proper mixtape. Sure, I’m listening to it on my iPod (not on a tape, or anything physical for that matter) but it is mixed (that’s where Average Joe really does his thing – it’s actually blended and there are scratches!). It’s also not just sub-par tracks – this is album quality. It features original beats – opinions may differ there as to whether that it is the spirit of the whole mixtape concept. Stephen the Levite, on his skit (‘Don’t Call It A Mixtape!’) ensures that the listener understands what a mixtape should be and concludes that this, indeed, is one.
On his drop Mac The Doulos sums up this project well: ‘repping the game and repping His name, all at the same time’. Zae brings together true, pure Hip Hop with a timeless aesthetic with a real, no-nonsense witness to Christ. It’s clear that Zae really tries to practice what he preaches in His music; ‘The Holy Scriptures’ is about how the Bible can speak for itself (listen to that track for a great Spurgeon illustration involving a tiger) and throughout this project scriptures are referenced to the verse to back up Zae’s claims and statements.
Zae introduces himself not only on ‘Formal Introduction’ but throughout the project and quickly proves his credentials as a creditable rapper with great presence on the mic, a commanding voice and tone and quality rhymes – he sounds like a real from-the-streets rapper, if you know what I mean. The album also features Timothy Brindle, Righteouz Knight, Stephen The Levite, Evangel, Believin’ Stephen and Shai Linne.
There are plenty of stand out tracks to choose from on here. The two tracks addressing the ladies (‘Virtuous Sister’ and ‘Excellent Wife’) had a real impact on me as they got me thinking about my own wife and really appreciating her. ‘Spanglish’ – a half Spanish, half English track – just sounds cool as the rhymes flip back and forth between the two languages. I honestly didn’t find a bad track on there – this is one of the most listenable releases I’ve heard in a while – skip button not required.
‘The Mosaic Mixtape’ is one of the most outright encouraging, joyful and dope Hip Hop releases I’ve heard in a long time. Zae Da Blacksmith and DJ Average Joe build a brilliant picture of the gospel at the same time as piecing together the very image of Hip Hop – anyone who thinks the Bible and Rap is incompatible needs to hear this.