Friday, 5 June 2009

Tedashii: Identity Crisis - Best Album of 2009 (so far)


If Christian music can make you cringe with embarrassment, Christian rap can be extra cheesy. So often it’s just a pale imitation of whatever was big with secular audiences 10 years earlier.

Which is a shame. Cos if there’s any musical form suited to preaching in song it’ s rap. The typical rap track contains as many words as a whole rock album, giving an unparalleled opportunity to treat a subject with all the necessary nuances and qualifications – vital when most heresy is birthed trying to make God simple to understand. Sad to say much hip-hop has failed to live up to it’s potential. The Christian alternative to ‘bigging yourself up’ is often preaching ‘actualise your potential, ‘be your best you now’, ‘God loves a winner’. Yadayada...

Things are changing however.

A new breed of rappers seems to be emerging, particularly around the Reach record label, guys like Lecrae, Trip Lee & Tedashii. Clear on the doctrine of sin & the importance of the local church, wise to the snare of worldly approval, they rock hard, preach holiness and sample John Piper. Tedashii’s new album, Identity Crisis, is exhibit A.

Intro get off the starting line full throttle, taking you from “Hey baby, what’s up?” to rapping about “Imago Dei” in 1:43 backed by a hyperactive classical piano riff.

I Work follows right on. An aggressive renunciation of peer pressure perfectly welded to a track that would feel at home on the Rocky 2 soundtrack.

In a similar vein 26s’ gives a wake up call to idolatry in the low rider culture. Tedashii perfectly captures the wide-eyed worship of the ride while guest Lecrae preaches to the “self proclaimed kings”

“Tell me where it ends boy,
‘cos the truck don’t bring you luck,
and it sho’ nuff ain’t gonna pay your sins, boy”

Though there are several mellower tracks on the album, Tedashii is at his best when he plays hard. And he plays hardest on Make War.

Kicking off with a sample of John Piper bemoaning why Christians don’t fight harder against sin in their lives, Tedashii grabs the baton and rams the point home so powerfully that I almost wish he could back Piper every Sunday morning!

And maybe Piper would be glad to have him - there’s a mature theological grasp on display here that should make many Christian singers ashamed to open their mouths when they have so little to say, and say it in such a bland rehashed way.

After spending most of the time out in the world, the album bows out with a pair of tracks closer to home.

Church’s hilariously sleepy groove paints the futility of the nominal churchgoer “Jesus must know me cos I heating up a seat in the church” and contrasts sharply with Community’s relentless forward motion. In fact the contrast is almost too sharp. A casual listen could give the impression that this exciting ‘community’ is something to be found ‘outside’ the church. But the chorus spells it out. There’s a blessing on “them church boys” when they “live in community”.

Overall verdict – a relentless drive-by against idolatry and apathy.

If you love rap – Buy It
. And if you think you don’t because your only point of reference is DC Talk - Buy It anyway.

Related Posts: John Piper vs. Led Zeppelin

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