Human trafficking is one of the ugliest sins this world has to "offer.” It's been around for thousands of years and even world governments are knee-deep in this evil to which many people are ignorant. We just picture the abusive street pimp that slaps the vulnerable young girl around until she submits to his demands and sells her body to countless "Johns" who have equally depraved requests for which they pay.
However, human trafficking is also a sophisticated operation in which people of all different walks of life - from the young "thug" pimp to the AMERICAN government agents who are caught with underage prostitutes in Colombia – participate.
King Kulture, Rapzilla founder Philip Rood's charitable outreach, decided to dedicate a second compilation album – Stop the Traffic - to decry this travesty and has recruited a sleuth of Gospel artists from Rhema Soul to Canton Jones. It is a noble endeavor that any decent human being can wave their hands in the air to. The last album concentrated on funding a school in the Congo. I've read horrific stories of what happens in the Congo, so it was only natural for the second venture to be dedicated to sex slavery awareness. Stop the Traffic was released on August 27.
Out of the respect for the topic, I'm not going to negatively critique any of the songs. If I don't mention any songs or artists, you already know the deal. "If you ain't got nothing nice to say...."
The songs that stand out to me are:
Skrip's "Show them" -- a solid contribution; the synthesizers in the opening measures lure you in and the sounds they opted to use on the track complemented Skrip's flow. The production by Jay Wonda on "Over the Edge" by MC Jin (Doesn't Jin mean "Demon" in Arabic?), was memorable; particularly, the chord arrangement. I could easily hear Rihanna on a beat like this but singer Dawen's soulful vocals, including his backup vocals and sweet falsetto ad libs, make me backpedal on my suggestion of calling up RiRi. MC Jin's delivery was solid, if anything, a little Macklemore-ish.
King Kulture has also done the unconventional. They have spoken word featured on this dominantly Hip Hop and R&B effort. Janette...Ikz recites a 10-minute vulnerable, soul-baring, realistically GRAPHIC poem called "What will it take?" Folks: THIS IS A MUST LISTEN! From the view of a prostitute, I never thought I'd hear prose about male bodily fluids, body parts and descriptive sex acts on a CHRISTIAN album! I thought MY lyrical content would get banned from some pulpits. In an age where the President says educating kindergarteners about sex is "the right thing to do,” I have absolutely nothing to say to oppose this poem. I love unfiltered truth when it’s presented tastefully yet impacts an audience the way Janette's in-your-face style has done with such masterful play of words.
I like Spoken Word about two percent of the time (you read that right) and Janette falls under that miniscule "thumbs up" percentage...Wow... She just got a whole paragraph from me when there are 16 tracks on this album. I am snapping my fingers right now, which is the standard form of spoken word applause. Girl, you made me listen to the whole 10 minutes when some 3 minute songs make me press skip.
I would buy this album just for that track... ok ok ok ... let me stop.
Rhema Soul's "We Win" WINS again ... Konata, as usual, pops things off with the first verse with above average lyricism and delivery. JuanLove's wordplay goes under the radar sometimes in my opinion; it was solid. The hook is simple, powerful and victorious and I like it when Konata sings. He's not the greatest of vocalists but he's perfect for their style. I don't know if this group has blacklisted me or placed me on a Russian hit list with my review of their recent "Red" album but this track, although not graphic or descriptive on the topic, does lighten the mood and remind us that WE WIN at the end. Despite the indescribable evil that permeates our society, we win. Amen.
I know I said I wouldn't say anything negative but I am wondering how some of these songs were chosen on the compilation. No amount of verbal gymnastics can assign some of these lyrics to be a fit for such a serious topic. Not naming names but just sayin' ...
The "hottest" joint has to be none other than that of Canton Jones. As soon as I saw the list, I was anticipating listening to his song along with Andy Mineo’s and Rhema Soul’s (Cough::Bias-Favortism::Cough).
Although the track was a simple 130 bpm dance track, Canton has such a knack for making catchy hooks with clever lyricism that can overshadow any other weaknesses of a song. It doesn't hurt that Canton sings really well. I wonder if Victoria Secret is going to give him a call to use this song on their modeling shows; gotta reach out to those supermodels, ya know. A definite rotation on my set.
Hillaryjane puts her stamp on thangs with "Not for sale.” The melodic arrangement of her verses won me over. The repetitive hook draws memories of Willow Smith's "I whip my hair back and forth" but that's about as far as any similarity goes.
Propaganda's "Healthy don't need a doctor" is another spoken word contribution. The interesting part of this track is that it was produced by Wlt but sounds like it was produced by Kavinsky, who happens to be one of my favorite contemporary producers, well-known for incorporating an electronic 80's sound in his production.
I had to play Andy Mineo's "Stop the Traffic" three times to see what I was missing because it took a while for me to vibe to it. I can't pinpoint it but the production by Gawvi caused me to continue pressing repeat. If you noticed by now, I have an affinity for melodic synths and unique sounds which Gawvi employs at the end of the track. I wish he would have done that earlier in the song. The fade was sweet. If your beat is going to be monotonous then choose a really catchy, cool sample loop or melody to repeat over and over and over and over again. What? I'm not being negative!
Yes, I am fully aware that they are some other well established names that I have not mentioned. Like I said, I'm not naming names. I just wanted to focus on what caught my attention. To quote Randy Jackson from American Idol: "It's wasn't for me.” But the cause alone should warrant at least a purchase as Janette and company have made it well worth it.
Have a listening session of the King Kulture album over at Rapzilla.