Christian hip-hop/dance group Group 1 Crew have released an album, EP, or both every year since 2006's I Have a Dream EP. G1C follow up this year's earlier release, Spacebound EP, with their third full-length effort, Outta Space Love. If you are not very familiar with G1C, the obvious comparison is to secular hip-hop juggernaut, Black Eye Peas. While it is probably the most logical comparison, a deeper look will reveal many differences. While both groups seem to have the hip-hop/dance market cornered in their respective areas, BEP tend to lean more heavily on the hip-hop, while G1C more towards the dance. Where no member of G1C touches the talent of BEP's wil.i.am, Fergie's singing voice does not match the pipes of Blanca Reyes. G1C also features a lot more instrumentation than the Peas, and are willing to be much more experimental with the types and ways those instruments are used. Oh, and of course, don't forget the auto-tune.
Outta Space Love features twelve tracks, five of which can be found on the Spacebound EP. Track numbers one, four, seven, eleven, and twelve, respectively, were all released earlier this year; the rest of the album is new material, including the sure to be favorite, "Let's Go," featuring TobyMac. The album offers several highlights, a few songs of filler, and one song that may drive you crazy.
The album opens with the perfect lead off song, "Live it Up," which will have you ready for the weekend. Just one listen and this will become your new anthem for Friday. The album's top track, however, has to be the last, "Manipulation." The song is an ultra-catchy dance song with a hip-hop feel and will have you singing the hook all day long, "Ma-ni-ni-nipulation." The album also hits highs with "Let's Go," "Transcend" and "Breakdown."
Though it's a great song, a listen to "Let's Go" will have you thinking that the "feat. TobyMac" tag is strictly for name recognition. The song has a great feel and is perfect for Toby, but his contribution is pretty minimal. Toby has a line at the beginning of the song introducing himself and G1C, but his appearance is limited to a small section before the chorus and the "andale andale," which is repeated throughout the chorus. Toby also has a line towards the end of the song to remind you that you are listening to "TobyMac; Group 1 Crew." "Transcend" is easily a top track and can contend with any song in the genre; it's a solid dance track with hip-hop beats and features a rare moment of Blanca Reyes rapping a verse. The Eminem-esque track "Please Don't Let Me Go" will also give you a better idea of just how good Blanca's voice really is.
The lowest point in the album is "Beautiful." The song is closer to pure pop and heavily features Blanca's voice. The chorus becomes annoying after about one time through as Blanca begins to spell out the lyrics, "I'm so B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L, that's me. I'm so B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L, that's me." The song's saving grace is a funky sounding rap section found near the halfway mark of the song. "Wait" might be a good song on its own, but the Motown feel of the song seems to stick out like a sore thumb on an album full of hip-hop and dance beats. It's a fun song in its own right, but may have been better served as a special release single, or on one of the EPs.
If you are a fan of the Black Eye Peas but are looking for something with a little more substance and a lot less profanity, look no further. The beats aren't quite up to par with BEP as a whole, but there is no denying that G1C can bring it. Positive lyrics and highly danceable beats are littered throughout the album. You can throw almost any of these songs on at a party and the dance floor will not miss a beat. Perhaps taking a little more time in between albums to perfect the sound could do the group some good. One stellar album that really gets the beats down would be better than two decent albums. No matter how you view it, if you can't wait to get out on the dance floor, don't miss Outta Space Love.- Review date: 9/15/10, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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