Music Review: The Reformation, by Christcentric

13 08 2008

Who would have thought that such subjects as the sovereignty of God, the sufficiency of Scripture, apologetics, the history of the Reformation, and even sermon clips from R.C. Sproull could be set to bangin’ beats worthy of testing the durability of sub-woofers and surpassing the quality of secular rap music with its self-absorbed and worldly message? Christcentric has accomplished this feat with the release of The Reformation, the group’s sophomore project.

The eighteen tracks on this album take the listener from a lesson in church history (The Reformation) through doctrinal instruction (The Sufficiency of Scripture) and solid critique of contemporary theological errors (Clichés & Apostasy) to the anticipation of Christ’s triumphant return (The Day of the Lord) with deeply thoughtful lyrics spit over tight beats and sick arrangements like nothing you have ever experienced in the realm of holy hip hop.

Christcentric does not shy away from delving into serious theology, touching on such themes as predestination, church discipline, doctrinal heresy, and eschatology, while never sounding forced or un-cool as they spit lyrics that sound like they were inspired by a seminary class syllabus. Part of the secret to the formula that makes this work so well is the lyrical genius that combines such serious subject matter with cleverly-crafted references to popular culture and skillfully designed metaphors. Take these lines from Oracles of Christ, for example: “It’s gotta be amazin’ if God is who we’re praisin’ Pride shouldn’t even be a part of the equation. Spit gospel like an actual preacher, Bump respect, leave that to Aretha.”

It has been my observation since I was first introduced to Christian rap that this music genre is particularly suited to communicate serious truth in a form that is culturally relevant and compelling. The lyrical patterns and rhyme schemes provide a canvas that a skilled artist can use as a tool for teaching, or challenging, or encouraging, or motivating with far more detail and emphasis than can be accomplished in other musical forms. Artists like Cross Movement, Flame, shai linne, and J. Johnson have pioneered and developed the pedagogical potential of hip hop.

Christcentric is building upon this foundation and taking it to a whole other level. But don’t get it twisted. This album is not a dry presentation of doctrinal formularies blandly recited over canned drum machines. This is real hip hop – slammin’ beats, hot instrumentals, blazin’ lyrics, and infectious hooks – masterfully conceived and produced to provide the total package. This ain’t Jeezus Pieces, fam… this is solid, edifying, God-honoring, educational, confrontational, motivational music that will, with God’s blessing, prepare a new generation of believers to raise up the standard of truth and spark a new Reformation. That’s what’s up

Let me leave you with a final word from the track Oracles of Christ: “The Lord makes us the earth’s salt shakers, The troup preservin’ truth for all lawbreakers, Not to blow up like helium, revealin’ sin, Not to be their cameleon, feel me friend?” Now if more Christian emcees would heed THAT challenge, imagine what a powerful instrument Christ-centered rap would be! Go cop your copy of Reformation and get your theological groove on!