J Rhodan - Each Sold Separately

Published Tuesday 21st March 2017
J Rhodan - Each Sold Separately
J Rhodan - Each Sold Separately

STYLE: Hip-Hop
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 164622-25239
LABEL: Illect
FORMAT: Digital Only EP

Reviewed by Andrew Midgley

We've struck gold. Quality, faith-filled hip-hop is hard to come by, with the temptation of brash proselytism so difficult to avoid for Christian rappers, and the trick of rapping godly protest politics only pulled off by industry leaders like Lecrae. J. Rhodan's second slips into neither trap, reclining like a balmy dusk in an outdoor pool; its lush instrumentation worked upon by its author's cadre of collaborators - Jav Mendez and Armand WakeUp on two of the tracks, plus Taelor Gray and Sean C. Johnson on LP standout "Honey". This latter cut, a 2016 single release, received its first follow-up earlier this year on Rhodan's Illect label with a collection of seven recordings named "Sorry It's A Tape". Of the seven, six were instrumental, and while on "Each Sold Separately" rap moves from the backseat to shotgun, it is Rhodan in the driving seat that provides the confident, cruising bliss that propels his music heavenwards. As a hip-hop production, the album shares kinship with '00s soul-rap tropes such as those brought by The Foreign Exchange; as a piece of spiritual artwork, it feels like an inclusive community meeting around Jesus. On "Nor", a touching piece written for Rhodan's girlfriend Norrisha, we meet more friends - Norrisha's friend Roz Welch as well as Jordan Nitchoff - praising the Lord with the album's characteristic cool sincerity. Here Rhodan twists his other half's name into a Romans 8 reference ("neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation .") when expounding the song's oblique title at the close: God will always give us "nor" - that is, he will affirm that none of the aforementioned foci "will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." If the album has a dip, during "Nor"'s five-plus minutes when Roz Welch's vocal enters soporific territory, the brass on "Deadstock" raises the game up-tempo once more. "The Casino II" brings the LP to a halt, Rhodan's expertise as a producer compensating for a less engaging tune by adding sparkles and strings over a subaquatic rhythm, and as the last piano chords cut out, it is most pleasant to reflect that producers of Christian hip-hop have a new standard-bearer.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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