The cross and crown are two important things that Christians have to focus on in the midst of this walk. As Christ said "it is finished" He gave everyone who confesses and believes a chance to share His crown with Him. Killeen, TX resident, Gritty, speaks on this in impressive detail on his latest album, The Cross and The Crown, Pt. 1.
1. The Choppers: this song starts off with one of those musical breakdowns that usually precedes an epic composition. When the beat does drop though, the results are somewhat underwhelming. In spite, Gritty takes the time to introduce us to the mission behind this album, to express the proper approach to both carrying the cross and looking forward to the crown that awaits in Heaven.
2. Crown Him: honestly, I wasn’t feeling the beat on this track even after multiple listens. I hear clearly the message of Christ’s sovereignty that Gritty spits on this track, but the music did pose a bit of a distraction. Also, this is one of the first songs where the fact that Gritty tries to fit too many words in his bars is evident. Message is strong but overall execution left room for improvement.
3. Lift Him High: the music is pretty much on point for its lane here, but the slow down/ sped up hook left a lot to be desired. That and, though the verses are pretty strong, some of the “errr, errr, errr, err” Gritty added on the end of a couple bars didn’t sound natural. This is the type of song that will play better at shows, crowd participation and all.
4. Follow Him feat. Benjah & Dillavou: arguably the best song on this album, with a pure reggae assist from the Lov’d Ones. Something about this track brings a smooth vibe that stands above the other tracks heard so far. Gritty definitely seems to be a lot more comfortable on this track and wrote his verses to fit better.
5. Let My Light Shine: this song is another that shows that Gritty has the ability to “shine” the better a track is musically. This is another one that gets your ear but things do take a turn left when the hook comes on. Even with the autotune turned up, the guy on the hook didn’t really stay on key.
6. Rep, Rep The King feat. T.M.P.: TMP starts the song off with a smooth, laid back flow that has a touch of west coast styling to it. Gritty jumps in with a steady southern drawl, continuing the thematic focus on counting the cost and following The Boss. The track has a melodic feel to it that’s kept interesting by a nicely implemented flute.
7. The King Saves: Gritty comes through with the classic, latin- influenced commercial sound on this track, and it works. I’m not clear on who the cat was that spit in Spanish but he was on T- Bone’s heels as far as the speed of his cadence. Definitely something for BBQ’s, skating rinks, and the like.
8. Hated: the title sums this song up very well- since Christ was/ is hated, how can we not expect to come across the same treatment. Gritty shows his strong ability to tie together multi-syllabic rhymes with only a couple hiccups throughout the track. Musically, the beat doesn’t necessarily add or take away from the song, not necessarily a negative considering the weight of the subject.
9. I’m Runnin’: this song is about running the race, some may call it “cross” country (see what I did there). Musically the melody seemed not to fit Gritty’s approach to the and left a bit of a rushed feel to it.
10. Zoom: creative beat in tow, Gritty got things rolling off quickly on this hard hitting song. That is until the hook comes in, sounding like an alternate for the Mazda commercial with the “zooom, zooom, zooom!”. The message is relevant, of course, but the hook takes away from the overall effectiveness of this song.
11. King Of Kings: now this is another track that accentuates the subtle southern twang Gritty mixes in with his pretty complex flow. This song of devotion will have you listening and re- listening to catch everything Gritty said, his flow is that packed with words. That works for and against him, depending on the type of listener that hears this song.
12. We Made It feat. Cheno Lyfe & Rey King: another strong song on the album as Gritty reaches out to Florida for an assist from Rey King and Cheno Lyfe. Cheno brings his usual edge, Rey provides the vocals/ lyrical bravado, and Gritty keeps it..well... gritty. Testimonies abound on this one and the “crown” of freedom in Christ is championed.
13. Speak Life: the second half of the album continues to shift towards the victorious, or crown, portion of the salvation equation. This upbeat track focuses on speaking life as connected to Christ and the healing/ resurrecting power of The Gospel. Pretty good track here, another one that compliments Gritty’s style.
14. Change The World: another of the handful of near perfect album tracks based on the beat, flow, and content. I know a lot of folks are tired of screwed and chopped hooks but I’m from Texas- as Gritty is also- and don’t think it’ll get old to me. This is one of the more re-playable tracks on the project.
15. Dethroned: another strong piece of production provides a good backdrop for Gritty’s triumphant flow. Speaking on the triumph that Christ and His church has over Satan and the fallen angels. The hooks says it plainly as The Second Coming is referred to, when Satan will have to relinquish his temporary throne, eternally. A decent song that will definitely appeal to the Reach Record fan base.
16. Our Cross feat. Adam Gilley: video- made song right here, the visual could really help people connect with this heartfelt song. Between the beat and Adam’s vocal ability, the emotional aspect of this song takes deeper root for the listener. Very strong song but one issue I have is that Gritty’s approach wasn’t as heartfelt as much as it was lyrical. In other words, it felt like he worked to construct multis more than a mood.
17. Forever: this is probably the most “cross-over” ready track on the album, featuring a musically Pop sound and an autotuned female (uncredited) who executed the hook well. This song has a tone of worship about it and Gritty does well on this track, with only a few minor rough spots where it felt like he was trying to fill too many words in some lines.
18. Overcomers: good song to close things out from a content standpoint, the crowning of the album in a way. Features a poignant word from Gritty’s pastor, Scott Hawkesworth, that sums up and caps of the project effectively.
The Cross and The Crown Pt. 1 is the first in a two part series that Gritty is releasing to break down what it means to relate our walk with Christ to both the rugged cross and coming crown of His glory. With a long tracklist of 18 songs, it provides a combo of biblical detail with some expected lyrical repetition. The music has a pretty nice range to it, and fits well with Gritty’s style. Speaking more specifically about style, Gritty actually has a cadence that he leans on which reminds me a lot of a country version of Believin’ Stephen or several other Pennsylvania rhymers. With that said, there were some times that his approach to each track was the same when it may have called for a slightly different flow to fit better. With these factors in mind, I give this project 3 stars. Very much edifying in content, uneven musically, this project is worth sampling and supporting.
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