I first heard Tedashii on the debut Cross Movement Records album from Lecrae, Real Talk. I saw his name as a special guest rapper, but thought nothing of it, not knowing who he was. But when the second verse of "Represent" came up and I heard Tedashii's hard voice flowing like crazy, I knew I was missing out. I never actually got around to hearing Tedashii's debut on Reach Records, Kingdom People, but in 2009, he released his follow-up, the hip hop collection Identity Crisis.
The overall theme of Identity Crisis is our identity as mankind. There are three songs scattered throughout the album that are meant to explain this theme more closely. The first, "Identity 1: We Fell," is about the Fall, beginning with a reading from Genesis 3:8-9, followed shortly after by Genesis 3:6. Tedashii makes use of some beautiful piano to add to the already dramatic music that perfectly fits the drama of the Fall. "Identity 2: Adoption" shows up at about the halfway point, a much more laid back, west coast-style jam (think early Snoop Dogg, but with worshipful lyrics about God's goodness and Him choosing us when we had no one to call Father). It doesn't fare as well as the first one, but its placement after the slow "Gotta Believe" is a decent fit. "Identity 3: Church" is the next-to-last track. It's the slowest song on the album, and it focuses on the fact that the Church is not a building, but it's the body of Christ. It also points to how many people go to church, but only because they feel like they have to, and that they aren't actually a part of the Church. Musically, it's similar to an R&B song, with smooth vocals, but it's pretty cheesy at times, and is one that often falls prey to skipping when listening to the album in its entirety.
The rest of Identity Crisis is pretty good. "26's" is a dirty south rap that borrows a line from a Lecrae's "The King" and makes it the hook. The line is "These self-proclaimed kings braggin' cause they're on chrome, but 26 inches is a pretty low throne," and Tedashii (with the help of Lecrae himself) talks about idolatry and the pointlessness of worshipping objects. Lecrae hits hard with words like "When they make some hotter rims your gods get rusty so you change religions like Madonna did." Going along with the idolatry message, "26's" leads into "Hollywood," where Tedashii talks about when he was younger and how he had a tendency to replace Christ with movies. It may sound strange, but he brings up a good point about how anything can become an idol, and there's so much that people get into and look to for help and guidance instead of God. Other topics he touches on are reaching people who are having rough times and are questioning God, Christians living in harmony with one another, and making war against our flesh instead of just allowing it to keep winning. As with every album put out by Reach Records, you're gonna get Jesus in every song. That's their goal and purpose, and they live up to the call.
As I said earlier, the thing that first attracted me to Tedashii's style was his flow. In that Lecrae song, he flowed crazy fast, and I knew it wouldn't be like that in every song of his own, but I anticipated hearing it in his solo stuff. Unfortunately, it only happens on a few occasions in Identity Crisis. "Identity Crisis Intro" is one such occasion, with the latter half of the song being a nice flow. "I'm A Believer" has it a little too, when he says "You can keep the ring and the chains and the ice camps main campaign ain't to pop champagne, that's lame, no game homie I rep Christ." He still flows in the rest, but those are the main two examples of when he does it with such speed and versatility. Aside from the quick flow, the main highlights come at about the middle of the album. There are two songs in a row that I can listen to over and over again. The first of which (and my personal favorite) is "Make War," which features a verse from my favorite Cross Movement Records artist, Flame. A sample from a John Piper sermon starts it off, with some beautiful rap-styled violins in the background and a gorgeous southern beat. Tedashii urges us to stand our ground against the devil and temptation. He comes at us hard and when we least expect it, and we need to keep our guards up and fight it, "cause sin never sleeps." Flame brings it in his verse, as well (he has a way of making anything he touches turn to gold), and he sums it up with "When Jesus died in our lives something strange happened, He gave us power, yeah I know that we sinners but since He rose He's renewing the image of God in us, now we gotta start making war, now we can start saying no to them fleshy impulses that Jesus Christ is paying for." To follow it up is my second favorite, "Gotta Believe." Diamone provides her pretty singing voice, layered a couple times, in the hook, and Tedashii tackles the doubt and depression that most, if not all, Christians go through at some time in their lives ("Day in, day out, I peep them sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces, trying to figure out why's this the way the ball bounces?").
This is Tedashii's second album, and while it definitely avoids the sophomore slump curse by a long shot, in some small ways, you can kinda tell that it's only his second effort. It's very good, and he has a lot of talent and passion, and he gets his point across, so he has everything needed to succeed. But I can't deny that there's something that says that he has a little to go before he reaches his full potential. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but I have no doubt that by album number three, Tedashii will be one of the best rappers in the game.- Review date: 12/29/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Reach Records
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