Lecrae has become one of the more recognizable faces in Hip-Hop for several reasons, including his skill as a rapper and his strong spiritual beliefs (and not always in that order). Being recognized in Christian music for quite some time, Lecrae has slowly but surely begun to garner the attention of others off his skill (because, to be honest, most “Gospel rappers” can’t rap that well). With the talent being undeniable through BET appearances and stellar outputs from his brothers at Reach Records, the eyes of critics are on them now more than ever.
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Amber Bullock is the latest gospel chanteuse to earn top accolades on BET’s popular Sunday Best, taking home the crown during Season Four.
Bullock’s debut CD, Thank You, is a seven-track EP with a smart song selection and diverse arrangements to showcase her singing. The current single and title track is a spunky reworking of the Walter Hawkins classic and the album’s finest moment, although a close second is “For Every Mountain.” The Kurt Carr ode to thanksgiving teams Bullock with a small brush-on-snare jazz combo. Bullock sings with such intimacy that the song sounds quasi-autobiographical.
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Imagine if you will, the superstar sparkle of Kirk Franklin and the bravado of Michael Jackson entangled around fashionable hip-hop beats and urban contemporary extravagance. It’s probably the safest way to describe urban gospel star Deitrick Haddon. He’s since dropped his choirboy image for the cool street evangelist look since 7 Days, his 2006 project produced by hip-hop duo Tim & Bob. On his fifth studio album for Verity, Haddon plays with the concept album motif of Ne-Yo’s Libra Scale to kick off a futuristic gospel sound that plays with the Legos of Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. It’s highly ambitious, crammed tightly with eighteen tracks loaded with lots of cyber-pop and even Auto-tune. Club bounce surfaces on “Reppin’ the Kingdom,” where Haddon steps back from the spotlight to allow fellow gospel contemporaries J Moss, Canton Jones and Tye Tribbett to work in their verses. “Show Stopper” swerves into Chris Brown-style pop, while the Rodney Jerkins-produced “Power,” “One More Chance” and “Fighting Temptation” keeps him on the precipice of R&B crossover. Melodic ballads do offer up some needed balance on the lengthy set. His finest intimate moment, while staying in the realm of extraterrestrial fantasy, is “Gravity,” where Haddon deals with the pressures of Earth:”Wanna share with the world the peace that I’ve found/But gravity keeps on bringing me down.” Halfway into the set, the mood shifts from Lowrider crunk to worshipful gospel (“You Are My Strength,” “Well Done”).
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