Reviewed by Andrew Midgley
"I used to live a thug life/That was before I encountered Christ", raps Greg Cooks, aka Puntin, on album opener "Amen". The narrative is promising, yet despite the claim "I talk about my past so much" on "What's The Deal", Puntin's eighth offering in nine years turns out to be less confession, and more evangelical proclamation. Such lyrics reveal that the rapper's adolescent struggles involved some smoking, drinking and womanising, but these are tick-box sins brushed over on 'Gold' in favour of gratitude for his salvation and deliverance and while this focus has propriety for witnessing, the power of testimony - doubts, enmities, conflicts - is sadly lost. Consequent boasts like "I'm more gangsta than a lot o' y'all" and "I'm crazy like Yeezy" go unsubstantiated, ultimately sounding hollow in the company of tracks such as "Gospel ABC's", which lopes from Anointing to Bible to Zeal without realising that a rap nursery rhyme in the centre of your LP compromises your credentials somewhat. Puntin would do well to observe that some of Yeezy's most affecting work appeared in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's raw, confused confession of sin and loneliness. 'Gold', for its part, ends up working best on "I Need You", a Drake-infused swimming bassline and soaring chorus that provides the album's best pop hook, and in several collaborations: 12 tracks showcase other artists to good effect, including album closer and highlight "Payday". Here, Jesse Wortham combines with Puntin to notch up the gospel dial and extol Matthew 6:19's preference of spiritual inheritance to worldly wealth. With chums like Wortham in the studio, Puntin sounds like he's having fun. But for all the virtues of his friends, it would be nice to know more about his enemies.
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