This post is a bit late coming but I was out of town/working/a bit lazy. For that I apologize.
- Chapter 1: Bethesda (feat. J.K. & L.I.B.E.R.T.Y)
- Chapter 2: Michael
- Chapter 3: Get Happy Intermission
- Chapter 4: Mahalia (feat. Deuce Banner)
- Chapter 5: Mrs… (feat J.R.)
- Chapter 6: Ali (feat Ali)
- Chapter 7: Denzel (feat. Chantae Cann & Suzy Rock)
- Chapter 8: Madoff
- Chapter 9: Jim Crow
- Chapter 10: Peter Pan
- Chapter 11:Cliff and Claire (feat. Christon Gray)
- Chapter 12: ME! (feat. Lee Green & Theory Hazit)
- Chapter 13: King (feat. Lizi Bailey & Tedashii)
- Chapter 14: Nicodemus (feat. Diamone)
Overall I was extremely pleased with this album. I breaks the status quo and has something for all fans of hip-hop/rap. Sho has recently stated that he doesn’t necessarily want to be defined as a Christian rapper but more along the lines of a rapper who happens to be Christian. This album helps his cause. The lyrical content is far more edgy than what you’ll find in most Christian rap. For example “Jim Crow” had to be edited before receiving radio play due to repeated use of “the n-word.”
“Jim Crow” is a track that has drawn both praise and criticism, mainly due to its use of the n-word. Typically I cringe at the use of this word and find it distasteful when used in a song, but because of the point Sho is trying to make I feel it is appropriate. There are times when it is necessary to use harsh language to drive home a point. As the song says, racism is not just something that is past tense. Its seen every day. As a white dude I can’t even begin to understand the struggle the that black people face. We have come a long way. We still have a long way to go. Race talks are something we need to face, especially in the context of Christianity and Christian rap. We are brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of skin color. I love that Sho takes racism head-on. I’m reminded of Propaganda’s “Precious Puritans” when I listen to “Jim Crow.” The maturing of Christian rap in taking on of difficult and controversial topics is encouraging and I pray for the artists as they attempt to communicate these topics.
A theme that resonates throughout this album is that of the devolution of culture. The hook in “Michael” says “Burn baby burn/my cultures going down.” The song speaks of the hopeless existence in this world outside of Christ. A culture full kids growing up with outs fathers, the violence over petty things, politicians and thugs lusting after power. In “Madoff” Sho raps about the dichotomy between the rich and the poor. This is a culture where doctors prescribe medications whether than treat problems. Where its easier for a girl to go strip rather than go to college. Where young men can profit more from the trap than from education. I love that Sho uses his platform to discuss what is relevant for young people. He raps about the struggles that we all face on a day to day basis, but unlike is secular counterparts he speaks the truth about what life his. Secular rappers so often glorify violence, drugs, and sex but rarely, if ever, speak of the consequences.
With this album I feel Sho is bridging the gap between secular and religious. Its an album that doesn’t forget his past but isn’t so overtly religious so as to be palatable to non-Christians. In my opinion, this is Sho Baraka’s best album thus far, and I am excited to see what he does in the future.