It seems like no matter how much music you listen to these days, a members of a group or band will eventually attempt to branch out on their own temporarily and release a solo project. When it comes to The Cross Movement, founding member The Ambassador has already achieved this feat and is poised to release a second project (The Thesis) this month. However, long time CM member Phanatik recently released his first solo effort in February, entitled The Incredible Walk. At first listen, you can easily point out from his beat selections and lyrics that he has had prior experience in the hip-hop game. Clocking in at 67 minutes with just a trio of interludes, the listener is treated to a legendary lyricist doing what he does best, crafting together creative wordplay with genuine and rhythmatic beats.
One interesting factor is that the album booklet insert looks like a comic strip with the title intended to parody the comic book character The Incredile Hulk. The album opener "B Side" is rather inappropriately titled but has Phanatik setting out to prove that not every album needs a short intro, followed by the artist cranking out not one, but two amazing verses to set the pace for the entire album. Tracks such as "The Amazing Race" and "Me?" (with a Busta Rhymes-type vibe in the beat backdrop) blend together smooth lyrics with a semi-old school musical pattern and both serve as club-worthy songs. "Odd Job" features guest appearances by other members of the Cross Movement and speaks out about projecting the wrong self image to gain acceptance with one's peers and falsely assuming he can continue to give God the glory at the same time. The insightful messages continue as "Press On" is about a Christian running the race before him and striving for the goal the Lord has set before him.
Though many of the album's songs are equally polished with unique styles and rhymes, "Psych Check" stands out among the rest of the most innovative track of the project. From start to finish, Phanatik displays three different styles of rhyming, which include using certain words in several different ways and slowing down his flow in verse two while experimenting with multiple metaphors and similarities to accentuate the core of verse three. With "Hip-Hop Music," the message is basically stating how it can be used as a light for the darkness to show the lost a new way of living, while "Dirgy Dancing" is all about the dangers of being in the club scene amongst a series of dramatic events. Although the songs "Grieved Again" and "Come Home" focus more on the issues of depression and strife, the album closer "Hope in the Streetz" expresses hope for tomorrow without having to be entangled in the world's web of evil deception.
With today's young generation claiming artists such as Jay-Z, P. Diddy, and Kanye West as their hip-hop role models, it's always refreshing to see guys like Phanatik do their part to offer a more positive and moral alternative in their music and messages. Though it may never have a strong possibility of reaching the top of the Billboard sales charts, The Incredible Walk serves as a well-deserved treat amongst many dedicated fans of hip-hop. A lesson learned, as with every Gospel rapper in the industry, is that an album need not include profanity, innuendo, or violence to get its point across, just pure and simple lyrics straight from the heart of the artist as with Phanatik and his impressive solo debut.- Review date: 5/16/05, written by Paul Portell
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