After his success with his debut project and his hit single "12th Round Knockout" from the feature film
Carman: The Champion, KJ-52 decided to take a step forward lyrically and musically.
His sophomore release Collaborations tackles subjects ranging from being a nerd in high school,
to more serious topics like purity before marriage. Also in the mix are many collaborations with fellow rappers such
as John Reuben, Playdough, and Pigeon John to name a few; and while these collaborations are well done,
I can't help but wonder why KJ couldn't just do it on his own? Yes, I know teaming up with other talent makes
things more interesting, but when KJ starts rapping on his own, things get real good real fast.
For example, "Dear Slim" is by far the best track on the disc, and KJ didn't need any collaboration with anyone to pull it off.
KJ raps his way through three verses directed right at Eminem. The song, written as two letters, lets "Slim"
know that he doesn't need to rap about everything he hates and lets him know that God cares for him regardless.
While the collaborative efforts can get repetitive, they can also, as mentioned, be very good.
In fact, probably the most moving song on Collaborations is "Where Were You?" featuring Golden Child.
The song, written towards KJ's abusive father, is the cry of an innocent child asking, "Why did you do that to mommy? You said if we hit somebody we're supposed to say sorry,"
in the first verse. The second verse deals more with the pain and aftermath of having an abusive father.
It's a moving song that finally decides to forgive and longs for the father to walk into church holding
the mother's hand. Other joint efforts include "The Choice is Yours" featuring John Reuben, and
"Nursery Rhymes" featuring Playdough. The latter isn't a particularly strong track, but all the tracks
on the disc are winners. Nirva Dorsaint comes in to sing chorus on "Sonshine" and "Wait for You," which is
another moving track about staying pure before marriage. KJ lets girls know, "He's gonna leave you in ruin.
It's your body he's just using," and encourages the guys, "I waited till I was married, and I never regret it."
KJ-52 has come a long way since his debut album 7th Avenue, and it will be interesting to see where he goes in the
future. As of right now, Collaborations stands out as one of the best Christian rap discs out there.
Even if you're not a fan of rap, it's well worth a listen.
- Review date: 3/27/03, written by Josh Taylor