After the well done mixtape called “Bridging the Gap”, Army debuts with his first album by the same name. Many aren’t aware of this artist, so it will be an introduction to most; however he has been doing music for some time now. This can be easily seen from many tracks on this album, from how drops are done to consistency, intricacy of flow, and placement of bars.
The album starts off with a strong intro, a simple chorus, but nonetheless it’s a great introduction for those who haven’t heard of him. The purpose is simple in bridging the gap with those who need to hear and the God who wants them to hear Him. This track shows the ease with which Army brings imagery with his punchlines, and it’s something that is very enjoyable throughout the album. The next track, “Blackout” does what the name describes, with him going off with bars and the flow is great. However, one thing that I really desire for those who are great with rapping like that to move away from is the tendency to brag about being the greatest, or close to it. While I don’t like false humility, I never have and never will like it when the attention is brought to how nice someone is. Don’t think the whole album is bragging and pride, it’s just that those things stick out to me and is something that diminishes over time(there’s more honesty/humility than bragging on the album) and since in the first track he knows where the gift comes from, this is just something that will continue to decrease as Christ increases.
One of the standout tracks for me on this album would be “50 Names”, and when I first saw the title, I thought to myself, “This will be something great”...I was not disappointed. As you listen to the song, he weaves the fifty names in the song in such a way that it doesn’t feel contrived or forced, but it flows naturally with the purpose of the song coming through. Another thing that stands out is the amount of study that I know it took to be able to bring not only the names, but the stories that the names bring to mind. As you try and list the 38 names that are relatives to Jesus and each other, plus the 10 mentioned and 2 referenced, here are some lines that stuck out to me: “Run until I finish so I gotta check my stamina/people never get it so they judgin’[book of Judges] like I’m Hannah’s son/cuz I’m makin’ profit[Samuel was a prophet]/similar to Habbakuk/I write my words to God/I’m just happy that He has a book”
I felt proud of what I was listening to after hearing the track, and while the production on the track doesn’t grab when it starts, Army more than makes up for it and the track works for him instead of against him.
In saying this, that note about production comes through in a couple of songs for me, and at first I didn’t really know how to explain it, because the tracks weren’t bad, but there were a couple of things I felt with some of them. Some of the sounds used in the production sounded dated, and the melodies for certain songs began to sound similar, YET at the same time, the beat produced in totality for some of those songs weren’t dated. I would listen to the album at times and feel as if the beats needed updating and at other times it not being a big deal, and in fact Army’s rapping enhanced the beat for me. This doesn’t go for all the songs on the album, I just felt them for certain songs like, “Run”, “Ultra”, “Go”, and “Book of Eli”. Like I said, they aren’t badly produced songs, it’s just some of the sounds used were dated to me and that feeling came through the beats for me.
Another song that really stood out to me when I listened would be “Questions”, which featured fellow Regime label mate Watt and singer Denny Marie, and the song was a “Job-like” depiction of a Christian struggling in life and trying to reconcile his faith in Christ with it. Again, Army’s lyrical dexterity shines through here as he starts off rapping for 45 seconds straight without a pause to breathe, and a couple seconds before he goes again for a little more than 30 seconds straight again with expressing his plight. The line that stood out to me was when he mentioned the Christians who smoke the ganja, which unfortunately is very true in our churches, and what many see from us there. The song is able to close out nicely with Watt who presents strong Biblical answers to the questions plaguing the gentleman pictured in this song. Things in his verse that stood out was his mentioning of the Bible verse in not trusting in moral men and also the fact that the man still breathing is evidence of his need in the earth as well as it being evidence that God is never absent. This is a powerful reality that is very hard to come to with all the pressure that hits many and can make us neglect the amount of things that has been given to us by Christ already. Even then on top of all of the things we’re given without realizing at times, we are still provided strength and the assurance of God’s presence in our midst whenever we feel weak, which is comforting as God produces patience and endurance during our seasons of trials.
One more song that I don’t want to miss is “God First” which features another Regime labelmate as well as producer, Tune$. The track is produced by Double A, which features an urban pop feel to it. As I’ve said before, the ability of Army to adjust and enhance tracks comes through on this one as well, he rides the groove well for me, and it’s great that Tune$ verse was a real strong verse to round out a truly great song, definitely on repeat for me!
Army has shown with his debut album that he is most definitely called to bridge the gap, and his heart bleeds through it. You will find someone that is continuing to grow in God’s grace and perfecting his craft, which is a gem in this genre, whether it’s called Hip Hop or Christian Hip Hop, it’s something to truly cherish in the age of digital accessories that can make a workload lighter and a thought process weaker. Many producers also brought a unique element(some even rapping) to this project, from Pyro and Double A, to Tune$ and Millionarie Music, plus more. I like when I can feel that I haven’t had all to say about an album because there is so much to speak about. Aside from certain beats that I feel bring it back a few years, the content and flow make up for it in many ways and as Christ increases, through Him the gap will always continue to be bridged.
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 3.5/5