STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 160256-24832 LABEL: Fo Yo Soul 751394 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2016-03-11 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
The latest release from Ohio-based singer and rapper Christon Gray is his first since being signed to Kirk Franklin's Fo Yo Soul label and the result is magnificent. As Gray fans will testify, he is as dazzling a singer as he is a rapper and the first two tracks - "The Glory Part 1" and "Stop Me" - pave the way for an album chock full of soulful falsetto-laden vocal performances and biting wordplay. Set to an inventive and varied musical backdrop of slick beats and occasional piano accompaniment, Gray references his faith in Jesus with realism throughout and, whilst the likes of "Nowhere" and "Follow You" could well be classed as worship songs, he is not afraid to tackle earthly matters such as relationship problems in grittier tracks like "Ft Knox" and "Afraid With You". Equally, Gray is not scared to be controversial but lines that reference an entertainer facing charges of sexual assault ("I'm just trying to give them less (Bill) Cosby, more Huxtable") and a nod to a recent erotica novel-cum-film in "50 Shades" - albeit with tongue in cheek due to the fact that he nearly shares the same name as the book's male protagonist - might be a step too far for certain listeners. Arguably the album's standout track, the incredibly poignant and illuminating "Blackmail (Black Male)" displays an obvious Stevie Wonder influence and highlights the still-rampant prejudice found in America against young black men in a way that will simply take your breath away.
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