Upon hearing the disappointing debut from Fresh Digress, I'd become leery about what Beatmart Recordings has to offer. I figured I would give them another chance, because I had heard Japhia Life's debut song "Love" on the debut Beatmart mixtape which came out a few years ago, and I liked what I heard. Now that his debut album Fountain Of Life has finally released, the question is: does it measure up?
Fountain Of Life is short, track listing wise. Thirteen tracks is short for any urban album anymore, especially in a world where the average album in this genre reaches 18-20 tracks. Still, Japhia Life fills most of his air time with his own blend of rap, hip-hop, R&B, and even piano-driven tracks. Though the rapper tends to keep the hip-hop flow going through the entire album, Japhia shines on his singing parts as well, and his voice and rapping style tends to take off of 50 Cent's style most of the time.
One major problem that I saw with Fresh Digress was the overuse of a chorus, and it tends to happen a lot here as well. Short verses compiled with longer choruses just don't seem to mix well with hip-hop. However, the beats and lyrics seem to be more original instead of just rehearsed, as they did with Fresh Digress, and Japhia Life has a real heart for the urban and city street youth. It's evident as you listen to his songs that he's trying hard to get the word out to them of Christ's unmistakable reality. Standout tracks include "Fire," featuring labelmate Rob Hodge, "Preacher Man," which sounds like a song about a childhood preacher who meant a lot to the rapper, and "All I Know," which includes a funky beat that compliments the lyrics of the song, making for a great hip-hop track. One song I just don't agree with, is the remix of "Love" included as the album's closer. "Love" is the song I'd heard quite some time ago and here it appears reimagined as a techno house mix, almost ruining the original completely. It would have been nice to keep the original on the album to give a small look into Japhia's past exploits.
All things aside, this is a decent hip-hop album with deep Christ-centered lyrics. Fans of Beatmart's previous offerings will find plenty to love here, and the new rap followers can at least give it a chance. It may not be flawless, but it's still worth a listen.- Review date: 7/3/06, written by Justin Mabee
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