Flame is arguably the best artist on all of Cross Movement Records. Credit obviously has to be given to The Cross Movement themselves, as well as the other hip hoppers who call the label home, but there's just something about Flame. More of a rap artist than a hip hop artist, he's still able to not only put out bangin' rap tracks, but also slower, more laid back hip hop jams. 2007 saw the release of his best work to date, Our World: Fallen. The sequel, Our World: Redeemed, however, is even better.
If you listened to Our World: Fallen all the way through and followed the story, at the end you heard about Flame's new friend losing his cousin, and his friend calling to Flame for help. Since the listener had to wait till the following year to follow up on it, Flame thought it appropriate to start off Our World: Redeemed with a little flashback, to remind the listener about what went down. After getting caught up and wondering what became of everything, the actual first song on the album takes you to the funeral of the cousin. More of an upbeat, happy song than what you would expect for a funeral song, but after the first verse, the happiness makes sense. In the midst of the eulogy, which has lots of Scripture reading, the friend says "You know there was nothing I wouldn't have did for him, was willing to die for him, now I wanna live for him, with every breath that I'm breathing tonight, if you hear me, I promise your death will lead me to life, it's time for a change, to start living it right, I'm ready to make a decision for Christ, I wanna give Him my life". If you're really into the song, that part has potential to hit your heart pretty hard. It did mine.
The songs that follow talk about different subjects. "Go Buck" is all about how "there's joy up in Heaven when a sinner repents," which leads into the confidence that nobody can pluck us from God's hand, "Who can pluck us from His hand? Not even the professional pluckers who plucks for life to pluck the unpluckable, rooted and grounded, doctrinally sound, when taking my options it's obvious that God wins," and following still into what is simply a praise song to God, "It's You." The first of three interludes is next, "Confession." The friend talks to Flame about finding it hard to live for God, and Flame shows him understanding and gives him great encouragement, and tells him to just hold on, the anthem for which comes right afterwards, "Hold on, He's strong, hold on, cause our God is a warrior....but yet His yoke is easy, and His burdens are light, but that's the fight for us, to rest and find in Him delight."
The aforementioned ability to go back and forth between straight up rap and slow jams is displayed after "Hold On," with the chopped and screwed chorus and dirty south feel of "I Been Redeemed," and then is further displayed in the almost Ambassador-ish "On That Cross." The softer raps continue in the wonderful "See More Him," in which Flame references Luke 19, when Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree to see above the crowd just so he could see Jesus coming his way, "I wanna see more Him, cause I'm sick of more me, I'ma be like Zacchae in that sycamore tree." "Power In Your Name" follows, with the same kinda feel musically, but bringing even more of a worshipful tone, and just as much beauty, especially with the soulful voice of Dawn Dia in the chorus.
In the third interlude, "Drama of Redemption," Flame speaks on the plan of creation and redemption laid out by God in the beginning before time even began. The harder beats start to come back a little in the next track, "It's All Gon' Pass," which talks about how all of our possessions "ain't gon' mean nothin' when the Lord comes back," a perfect segueway into "2nd Coming," a song about Jesus coming back for all His people. For the very last track, Flame enlisted the help of another phenomenal rapper, Lecrae, and a singer from Philadelphia, John Reilly, of the indie band Reilly. It's an intriguing sound, putting melodic singing in the chorus of a straight up rap song, but the result is fantastic. Using Psalm 95 as the chorus makes this a perfect ending to the album, and it fits right along with the theme of redemption.
With music and vocals that are relevant to today's culture, and a love for God and lyrics that can convict and encourage at the same time, it's easy to strongly recommend Our World: Redeemed. It's even good if you haven't listened to Fallen at all (though you might not fully understand the first two tracks). This is also a good album to show mom and grandma that rap CAN be clean, and more than that, Godly. This is definitely one to check out if you're inclined to listen to rap. You would be doing yourself a favor.- Review date: 05/19/08, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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