Gospel Gangstaz “Defenders of the Faith” (album review)

Trendency Records / Camp 8 (November 5, 2013)
Review by Aidan Severs
Buy this album
: iTunes

Remember the West Coast? I mean the West Coast sound from 90s championed by the likes of 2Pac and Dr. Dre? Gospel Gangstaz’ latest LP “Defenders of the Faith” sounds almost fresh as it harks back 20 years and acts as if things have never changed since then.

Formed in 1994 and bringing together former members of the most famous of rival LA gangs, the Gospel Gangstaz are now almost 20 years and 7 albums into their seemingly never-ending career. The group now only consists of Chille’ Baby and Mr. Solo, following the departure from the band of Tik Tokk. What they do is simply unashamed gospel-filled, gangster rap-sounding hip-hop music and that’s exactly what you get, 14 cuts of it, on this album.

Maybe the West Coast has continued to produce this sound, but the last time I heard it in the mainstream was on The Game’s “Doctor’s Advocate” (and the last time I made that comparison was when reviewing Tha GIM’s “Supreme” back in early 2012). The typical West Coast themes and diction are here too: bouncin’ and rizzidin’, spinnin’ dubs, pants hangin’ low, hustlin’ and all those things Snoop Dogg chatted about back in the day. Except, every track is explicitly saturated with their message.

Some tracks will get you praisin’ Mary Mary style – 2nite has that joyful exuberance that’ll have you dancing around your room Carlton style. Many tracks you’ll just wish you had yourself a LoLo to go dippin’ in whilst they rattle your trunk (Low Ridin’, Roll On, Walk With Me). Some tracks are almost silly: Braids In is all about how, despite having braided hair, they praise God and Don’t Dance and Slap That On are just funky funny. Time has a great Easter narrative (that come to think of it, is fairly rare in hip-hop) and Trying Times could almost be written for the currently incarcerated Tik Tokk (“anticipating the day you acquitted, I’m right wit you, and even if you do life, I’m doing life wit you… sittin’ wit you, flippin’ through the scriptures wit you, Romans, Yeah homey read that, you gon’ need that”). ‘Caught Up’ also laments typical real hood lives.

Immediate comparisons might be made to T-Bone, however it would seem that there is a welcome lack of the prosperity gospel here, in fact Every Man subtly address this issue and steers the listener to think more loftily by way of some rapid-fire raps. There is also much less of the (biblically unfounded) demon slaying that there was in their older music.

“Defenders of the Faith” is an easy and enjoyable listen; it’s not difficult to decipher their message and who doesn’t like a bit of G-Funk complete with the odd vocoder chorus? It may be that this album isn’t really meant for good little white church boys to listen to on their bike on the way to their legal employment… let’s hope so, anyway.

Gospel Gangstaz “Defenders of the Faith”

Visit iTunes to preview clips of each track on Gospel Gangstaz “Defenders of the Faith”.