STYLE: Hip-Hop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 158318-24914 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
The UK Christian hip-hop/grime scene is burgeoning beyond anyone's expectations in recent years and one of its shining lights is the London-based rapper Karl Nova. Innovative as he is skilful, this release sees Nova continue to deliver the kind of adept hip-hop that he's been developing since releasing smart phone-recorded albums earlier in the decade with the opener "Maintain Your Aim" setting the scene for a number of tracks that feature the scatter gun delivery of the man's trademark intricate wordplay - all backed initially by a range of grime grooves. With Christian themes such as God's refinement ("Break It Down"), perseverance ("More Than Conquerors") and Christ's victory ("Overcomer") bubbling under the surface, Nova makes sure his listeners know who his heart belongs to although the repeated refrain of "oh my God" in the undoubtedly Jesus-affirming "Wow" may sound like he's taking the Lord's name in vain to everyday ears. That small criticism aside, this is a release that offers up all the sass and brass of mainstream hip-hop but with all the sex and violence replaced with the lyrical goodness of a man redeemed by Jesus - a case in point being the self-explanatory "Venting" which sees Nova let loose about music critics and a whole lot of other stuff without a single speck of unrighteous anger. By the two thirds mark, the beatboxed a cappella of "Invincible Joy" signals both Nova's soulful side and the album's change in tact with more accessible tracks like the inclusive "What Is Your Story?" and the afro dance of "Flowing On" helping to bring a lighter touch to proceedings. The simply sublime "I Was Frustrated", complete with gospel choir samples and a challenge to us all about what being a Christian is not about, helps close a captivating and thrilling release from an artist who is certainly not a frustrated one in terms of his abilities.
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