Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Crooked – Propaganda

Propaganda’s first album since 2014’s Crimson Cord is hard-hitting and challenging, with excellent vocal (spoken word and hip hop) delivery, musical backing and production. Much has happened in America since Crimson Cord and some of the lyrics are right out of the news.

Below are a few thoughts about each of the songs:

Crooked Way featuring Terence F. Clark – This is a powerful opening track, produced by Braille and written with Terence F. Clark. There is much to take in here, which will require multiple listenings. He covers a history of racism from Native Americans and the Confederate flag. Interjects humor about skinny jeans and Dickies. Says he is not a leader, just a hippie with daddy issues, crooked with halos balanced on the tip of his horns.

It’s Complicated – He has zipped up his emotions into a dusty duffel bag that he’s named poetry. He speaks of transgender issues, that we are a laundry list of identity issues and that sometimes our plumbing doesn’t match our urges. It’s complicated.

Bear With Me featuring Marz Gerrer – Produced by Ohmega Watts. This track is about the ups and downs of being in love. Love is not love if it’s never been tested.

Cynical featuring Aaron Marsh & Sho Baraka – This powerful track is produced by Beautiful Eulogy. It hits on several items out of the news – Trump rallies, refugees, immigration – but he’s concerned that Christians are arguing about bathrooms. He addresses being lied to, intolerance and fear.

Slow Cook – This track is produced by Courtney Orlando and Steele, and it’s about his musical influences. “That’s the hip hop I fell in love with”.

Do Know Wrong featuring Macho – Produced by Wert and co-written with Macho. His love letter to California (Cali), with numerous references (earthquake, smog, Poly High, palm trees, traffic, lack of water, ocean, Fatburger, King Taco).

Gentrify – Produced by DJ Efechto. This upbeat sounding track with Odd Thomas on keyboards, addresses a serious subject, gentrification. “And when you see them billboards yelling “cash for homes” Gentrify.”

I Hate Cats – This is a very creative spoken word piece on racism and stereotyping, substituting cats and dogs for Blacks and Whites. Funny and serious. Continue reading

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Music Review:  Selected Songs – Propaganda Selected Songs Propaganda

Propaganda has been described as a poet, political activist, husband, father, academic, and emcee.  In the song “Don’t Listen to Me”, included here, he also tells us that he is the son of a Black Panther with a Mexican spouse and Caucasian best friends. He is a college graduate with teaching credentials, and a rapper who brings a bold message through aggressive battle raps to smooth introspective rhythms. I first heard him via his contributions to some of Lecrae’s songs.   The first of his albums I purchased was his excellent 2014 release Crimson Cord. Five songs from that album are included here in this compilation of eleven of the best songs from his work to date, which includes five studio albums.

Propaganda’s style of rap (poetic, spoken word, etc.) and his excellent use of percussion distinguish him from some of the other artists (Lecrae, Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, KB, Tedashii) that I listen to.  He brings passion to his subject matter, as varied as public education (“Bored of Education”), or what it feels like to a black man when pastors quote the Puritans (“Precious Puritans”), the latter of which particularly got my attention. You see, I love the writings of the Puritans (Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Matthew Henry, etc.), and use The Valley of Vision (which he mentions in the song) as part of my daily devotional reading. It was good for me – as a middle-age Caucasian male, to hear how pastors quoting some of these writers can impact African Americans (he raps of them being chaplains on slave ships, etc.), something I hadn’t thought of before.

Propaganda will challenge you with his bold messages. It may stretch your mind and heart.  That’s good for me. I highly recommend his music, and this compilation is an excellent introduction if you are not currently familiar with him.

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