Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Editorial: CHH Needs to Focus on Pastoral Care

My man Edward Shelton crafted this editorial for that deals with some of the issues of this past year.

What are you thoughts?

One thing that 2009 taught us is that no rapper or label is untouchable. When you hear the names Tonex, Ambassador, and Da’ T.R.U.T.H. unfortunately the negative comes to mind before the positive. The issue these men have brought to the forefront is the fact that, overall, the current systems of accountability and, more importantly, pastoral care ministry may be poorly executed within their industry. With so much riding on not just the strength of one’s music, but the character one presents, pastoral care for the artist is essential.
Click here to read it in full.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My 5 Favorite CHH Albums of 2009

Tardy but still relevant, here are my five (or so) favorite Christian hip hop albums of the last year. I’m so done with ratings and don’t wanna see anyone brag over getting a rank number over someone else, so these are just going to be presented in chronological order.


shai linne – Storiez
Lampmode Recordings

I believe this was actually released in November of 2008 but I listened to it mostly in 2009. Storiez is a perfect mix of theology and art where shai utilizes a parable approach to getting his message across.

As the title implies, each track tells a story and wholeheartedly pulls the listener into the narrative. shai flexes his MC side too with an alternative rhyme pattern on “Passover” and slays me with the simple, yet poignant, “children’s” tale “Penelope Judd.”

Further proof of how much I dug this project: I bought a copy to give to my former pastor as his first introduction to Christian hip hop. If for nothing else, I figured he’d get a kick out of the biographical “Spurgeon.”

Buy it now from The Bus Shop


Thi’sl – Chronicles of an X-Hustler
X-Hustler Music

Fierce. This album is the antidote for the poisonous, yet flashy fairytales spun by mainstream acts like Rick Ross. Thiz shares the truth about a host of issues ranging from the crack epidemic (“I Hate You”), fatherlessness (“Daddy Did Me”), and urban violence (“Picture on a Shirt”) without glamorizing or glorifying anything other than the redemption from those things he found in Christ.

Beats and lyrics are raw, uncut, and feel 100% real. In fact, when I interviewed him for Tha Message Magazine back in August, we both (only half) jokingly compared it to HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire.” Again, another album that truly paints pictures with words.

Buy it now from The Bus Shop



Von Won – Answering the Call
Gifted da Flamethrowa – Street Symphony
Much Luvv Records

Because I’ve seen them perform together so often, it’s hard for me to mentally separate these two artists so I’m going to make an exception and put them both into this one slot. I know (and have known) them personally for several years which makes the fact that I actually like these albums all the more enjoyable.

That hasn’t always been the case though. The first music I heard from Von Won and Gifted was somewhat lackluster. But with Answering the Call and Street Symphony, I’m a full blown fan of each.

As I mentioned in my review for, ATC finds Von a more mature believer, a fiercer MC, and a better manager of beats and hooks. His strength is in his seamless transition between singing and rapping – often in the same song. “Thief in the Night” exhibits the flavor of his Caribbean roots while “By Any Means Necessary” is an example of the Houston-freestyle flow that will excite fans of the Screwed Up Click.

Gifted showed an improved ear for tracks and choruses too. Merging the flavor of his New Orleans roots with his current H-town residence, Street Symphony shows confidence and talent. There’s creative wordplay, extended metaphors, and a demonstrative love for the art of hip hop here as well.

Both projects make for fun, high energy listens.

Buy Answering the Call now from The Bus Shop

Buy Street Symphony now from The Bus Shop


Sojourn – Sojournalism
Hip Hop Is Music

Really, Sojay just makes it sound too easy. This Future Shock veteran was always dope, but on Sojournalism he gives the appearance that being a true MC is absolutely effortless. It’s not.

The backgrounds pop, his voice booms, and he’s saying something of substance in every lyric. A line that particularly caught and stayed with me had to do with him changing out his cell phone wallpaper photo from a mic and headphones to a picture of his unborn son. Similar, mature imagery is brought to topics like blood diamonds (“Fools Gold”), being a Christian with a platform (“Solutionists”), dealing with industry woes (“Art Verses Commerce”), and the internal battle of flesh versus spirit (“Civil War”).

This joint is just plain beautiful.

Buy it now from The Bus Shop


Wit & Dre Murray

Wow, did this thing come out of nowhere! I mean, I’d seen the Tweets from both Wit (of the Frontlynaz) and Dre Murray about the project, but I certainly didn’t expect this.

Like many, I heard it was going to be offered for free and thought “mixtape.” But once I downloaded it I discovered a full album. And a really good one at that. No wack remakes here – all original production. Note I didn’t just say beats. Wit put his foot in this and came out with a concept album that reminds you of Kanye’s better days and Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool.”

I’ve listened to it several times and am still not certain I’ve nailed the full story. But I kind of like the ambiguity. What I take away from it is that it’s an illustration of the futility of sin and the sort of empty life it will leave us with if we continue to indulge our selfish desires.

Listen intently as Murray shares the pain of a broken relationship with his girl (“Spazz Out”) or about the pointless of drunken excess (“2 Steps”). Dre brings it too – with patterned flows that weave a narrative thread and still reveal a poet who enjoys his God-given talent.

Although I appreciate the free gift, these guys need to know this is a project for which I would have gladly paid full price.

Download it now from

Honorable mention:


Teddy P - Word & Deed

Philly producer/media mogul Teddy P gathered his friends for this quality album that took me back to the day when I first heard Mark of the East and the debut of Corey Red. There is solid, birthground styled backgrounds along with instrumental tracks that just carry a creative vibe. It’s another that you should definitely give a spin – particularly since he’s selling downloads of the full thing for just a simple buck.

Buy it now from Teddy P

Your thoughts?

Vidz: Throwback - Nuwine "Do That"

I noticed this throwback clip on Lil Raskull's site. Brings back memories.

Think Christian hip hop videos have improved a lil?

Favorite part: Ras getting his MJ on with the wind machine. Enjoy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

RIP: Richie "s/ave" Douglas


On Thursday morning, December 31, 2009, Richard “s/ave” Douglas (36) went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas from an epileptic seizure. While he had battled the condition for many years, this was an unexpected occurrence and a complete shock to his friends and family.

Born on March 27, 1973, s/ave was a devoted follower of Jesus and passionate fan of hip hop music. In the mid-90’s he was on staff at Grapetree Records and served as editor of Heaven’s Hip Hop Magazine – one of the first true attempts at Christian rap journalism and a lifeline for fans of the faith-based music in the pre-Internet age. He penned the “Real Criticisms” column and initiated an “Unsigned Acts” issue that spotlighted future Christian rap figures such as Nuwine, Future Shock, and Raphi Henley (aka Shames Worthy).

After moving to Houston, s/ave started the ONEMIND newsletter in 1995 out of his one-bedroom apartment and continued to cover the genre. As the one-sheet garnered more readers, it grew to into ONEMIND Magazine and featured the writings of James “Bad Luck” Parry, Excelsius, Kenneth "Bus" Falls, Jr. (owner of The Bus Shop), Jelani Greenidge, and Sketch the Journalist.

As the world wide web boomed and ushered in the Information Age, s/ave adapted his magazine to an online forum. continued to bring album reviews, news, and analysis to the Christian hip hop culture. Its vibrant message board continued to build community until the launch of

That site was created to be unified banner site for gospel rappers in the Gulf Coast area. The concept was that artists would forgo forging their own web identities and adopt the name. Not only that, s/ave was strategic in the launch of The Bus Shop - the first and longest running Christian Hip Hop store on the web - along with Kenneth "Bus" Falls, Jr. He gave the store its name and also created its first website.

After several years, the ties that bound began to fray as artists joined but also kept an individual URL on the side. It became harder to sell and get buy-in for the idea and eventually the site withered away to a simple, yet lively, message board. s/ave also found his passions steadily shifting away from the Christian rap community to a group nearly as underground.

“Deaf culture,” s/ave explained. “I left the world of hip hop to serve the people who didn’t hear it.”

s/ave enrolled in college level American Sign Language classes and began to get involved in deaf church ministries and stage plays. This left little time to maintain

However, he knew of a local Christian rapper and business owner who was an emerging leader in both his city and the movement as a whole. In 2008 s/ave handed over ownership of to Bobby “Tre9” Herring.

Since then, s/ave served as an educator for deaf and special needs children in the Cy-Fair Independent School District.

He is survived by his wife Theresa “Tee” Douglas.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Theresa Douglas c/o the Richie Douglas Memorial Fund through Wells Fargo Bank, acct.#7963198499, benefiting the Texas School for the Deaf.