St. Louis-bred Flame has always had two goals in his music. To reach those who don't know Jesus, and to disciple those that do (The Great Commission, which I guess makes it only one goal, but for the sake of this review let's call it two). With a heart for Jesus and an extensive knowledge of the Bible and apologetics, Flame set out to display those goals with his newest albums, a two-part musical story, individually titled Our World: Fallen and Our World: Redeemed. In part one, Our World: Fallen, Flame reconnects with a childhood friend of his and begins a personal ministry with him.
When I first heard about this project, I thought it was a pretty cool idea, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit skeptical. I wondered how it would be done. Was every track going to be some sort of cookie-cutter "here's why you need Jesus and here's how you accept Him" kinda thing? Not that I usually doubt Flame or his music, but I admit there was a tad bit of skepticism. However, it's actually a lot different than that. Flame does reach out to his friend, presenting the truth of the gospel to him, but does so by addressing the sin nature of the world and why we need God because of it. Flame speaks on issues such as not trusting in God's love, putting faith in money and possessions, gangs, and a lot of the typical stuff. But when he speaks on it, he does it with such passion and honesty, and everytime you listen, you get something new out of it.
Some Christian rappers have a tendency to sound cheesy when they rap about God. It's sad to say, and it's definitely not all of them, but with some, it just turns listeners' ears off. It's almost as if they are trying too hard to make their point. With Flame, it's completely natural for him to take a fantastic beat and just spit fabulous lyrics about Jesus, without coming off as corny. For instance: "Not just that He left His Heavenly throne/ Just to bring Ebony home/ Or whatever your name is/ He definitely claims His/ Plus exchanges filth and anguish/ Guilt and pain and makes us stainless," to a beat not unlike the style of mainstream hip hopper Eminem. Another great example is in the dirty south opener "Our World Fallen," "We live in a country where worshipping money is all a part of the culture/ No worship of God, just look at their walls, and see who they got on them posters/ And see what they got in them holsters/ Why cats be holdin' them choppers?/ The Federal Building is filled with killers/ That could've been lawyers and doctors." I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.
The last track, "Goodbye," is a big part of the story of Flame and his friend. The friend calls Flame's phone in a panic, because his cousin just got shot, and is lying in the street bleeding to death. While his friend tries to rationalize why his cousin should be in Heaven, despite him not knowing Jesus as Savior, Flame listens and responds with the truth. No one wants to have that conversation, trying to explain why a loved one might not be in Heaven, but out of love, Flame is there for his friend, and vows to be there for him the whole way through.
Though Our World: Fallen ends on quite the sad note, it ends up being a great collection of raps. It's not super easy to pick favorite tracks, but some highlights are "Shinin'," "Goodness To Repentance," "When You Step," and "Goodbye." The only real disappointments came in the odd beat and progression in "World View," and the surprisingly less-than-beautiful guest vocals delivered by Diamone in "MySpace." Her vocals aren't horrible, per se, but taking into account her other guest spots with Lecrae or Trip Lee, her contribution to "MySpace" isn't some of her best work. The rest of the song is touching, though, so it's easily made up for.
With big and catchy beats, as well as loud and outspoken vocals, almost any rap fan can find something to like with Our World: Fallen, whether said rap fan is a Christian or not. And then make sure you check out part two of the story, Our World: Redeemed to complete the story.- Review date: 05/18/08, written by Scott Fryberger
Record Label: CMR
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