STYLE: Hip-Hop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 171514-27088 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Of all the hip-hop/grime verbalists putting spark and vitality into the London scene, I've been wondering for some time when a Midlands act would emerge with the same level of streetwise authenticity and pop chart immediacy. My ponderings have now been answered and I'm not surprised that it's Manchester's renowned Message Trust who have brought VS to the scene. (As long-time followers of UK Christian music will know, in the 2000s, The Message's The Tribe were UK Christian rap's top band.) Make no mistake, rappers Nick Shahlavi and Marvin Gilbert aren't some third-rate wannabees trying to ape Drake with a bedroom studio setup and some internet bought beats. These guys trade in flows which are fast, furious and fiery while their tracks are skilfully produced by the likes of Al Swettenham and Ryan Peers. Particularly effective are the vocal hooks with "Ain't No Chains (ftg Alison Bethune)", "Don't Suffer In Silence (ftg GJD)" and "Back In The Day (ftg Tyler Daley)" and all three sound like cuts you'll be hearing on Cross Rhythms or xRhythms in the months ahead, while the haunting closer, "Pray For Me", is as beautifully executed a plea for prayer as I've heard for years. If there was any justice, 'Starving Hearts' would get a MOBO award (though that's unlikely without a megachurch support behind them). Not that glittering prizes are what motivates Nick and Marvin. They are anointed evangelists, who by taking their message into schools and prisons are doing great things for the Kingdom of God. So buy their album. . .and pray for them.
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