Reviewed by Stephen Adams
'Soul Purpose' is a record that takes a three-albums strong partnership (namely KJ-52 on the mic, Todd Collins aka T Cleezy on the beats) and make it an official group, with a few changes along the way - the major change being that Todd Collins is singing the hooks. The album has a summery, poppy feel throughout with some old-school influence, which is presented in the format of a US radio station. Firstly, to analyse the individual parts. KJ-52 who, prior to signing with Uprok/BEC, was most known for his respected underground group Sons Of Intellect as well as his "7th Avenue" released on Essential. However, since signing with Uprok/BEC, KJ-52 has found a style that attempts to place itself between the zany antics of artists such as Pigeon John and John Reuben and perhaps most notably in terms of vocal style, one Marshall Mathers III (known to worried parents everywhere as Eminem). But whereas those artists are seen as talented due to their original rhyme styles, KJ-52 appears highly derivative and cliché. Where the old KJ sported more complex vocab and street attire, the new KJ is found here hamming it up for the church youth group with painfully simplistic rhymes, whilst being subtly marketed by the ever-so-interesting Christian music industry as "the fun of Eminem, minus the nasty lyrics." How about producer Todd Collins, whose fantastic ear for melody blessed many a hip-hop/urban track? Well, even the best have their off-days, as Todd almost completely drops the ball here too. Instead of catchy beats capable of competing with secular beat giants like The Neptunes and Kanye West, we get the kind of boring pop-rap beats made by adults who think they know what the "dem kids" are into, while Todd's singing is wasted on sickly harmonies and cringe-worthy lyrics. Then a quality song like "You're The One" comes along with some funky guitar riffage and Todd on top vocal form over a definite made-for-summer track, and makes me ponder what could have gone wrong to leave this gem trapped between trite tracks and annoying interludes. This CD, unfortunately, epitomises everything I dislike about the Christian hip-hop scene that I usually love. While work has been done to restore some credibility to Christian hip-hop in the eyes of the cynical secular world, this album and others like it take us a step back instead.
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