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Psalm Psalm
Covenant

Artist Info: Discography
Street Date: June 25, 2016
Style: Rap / Hip Hop
Official Site: Official Website
Buy It: iTunes
Buy It: AmazonMP3
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You often hear stories of Christian artists who denounce their faith and then decide to either drop the Christian band label or form a new secular band. Occasionally, and more preferably, you hear a story about an artist who finds Jesus and then shares his or her newfound faith through the same medium. MC Jin, Brian "Head" Welch, and Josh Brown (Day of Fire) are great examples. Boise, Idaho, native David Byrd was rapping under the name Sketchy Waze until finding Jesus. Now, reborn as Psalm (or Lyricidal), he's found a new reason to rap, as we see on his new album, Covenant.

Covenant is a very lengthy album, with 22 tracks and nearly 80 minutes of music. And Psalm doesn't seem to waste a moment with frivolity. No, from the very start of "If Life Is A Contest" to the final moments of "Like A River," Psalm's aim is to bring glory to God and bring a righteous judgment of the world's sin. Early in the tracklist is a track called "Before I Move," where he also talks about the importance of praying before he does anything or tries to have his own way. Interestingly, it works itself nicely into the following track, "Everything You Wanted," a semi-satirical track that finds Psalm rebuking our worldly desires, specifically money and possessions. A few tracks later comes one of my favorites, "My Neighbor's Friend." A street rap track reminiscent of "The Anthem" by Shames Worthy, Psalm deals with the brokenness around us and claims "everywhere I look, I see the devil is my neighbor's friend." A reference to Jesus' idea that everyone around is our neighbor, Psalm closes the song out by proclaiming that we need to "turn our backs to Satan and try to be our neighbor's friends." Psalm does use a slightly uncomfortable term for masturbation in the song, but it can be easy to miss; I actually didn't even notice it the first time I listened to it. There are also several uncomfortable moments in the song "Life of a 20," which is from the perspective of a twenty-dollar bill as it makes its way through life and finds itself being used to pay for a whole host of vile services. Psalm isn't necessarily vulgar in the song, but he doesn't sugarcoat the kind of things that go on in the darker parts of the world.

It should be noted that Covenant is the product of three years of songwriting. This accounts for a wider range of styles than you typically get in a standard album cycle, and it also does make the album feel a little unfocused at times. But even with this in mind, the album is still pretty cohesive, with very little in the way of jarring transitions from song to song. The overall style of each song does vary, however, as Psalm shows us different sides of his rapping ability, from singing to a few instances of lightning fast lyricism, as the song demands. One of my favorite things about the project is that some of the songs are written using the music and lyrics from popular songs. "Walk Away" features a female vocalist singing the hook of Cutting Crew's classic "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight," and "What Have I Done" mixes and warps a section from System of a Down's "Chop Suey" right into the beat, but other songs feature actual samples. "Good Man" uses the rock sound of the song of the same name by a band called Devour the Day; it's a rather generic rock song itself, but it makes for an interesting sound for the track. "I Knew A Girl" makes use of "Daughters" by John Mayer for the music and the hook, but my favorite one is "Come Home." Borrowing the hopeful sounds of Jason Mraz and his song "93 Million Miles" (and adding a little dubstep to the mix), the song is a bright spot on the album, both aesthetically and lyrically, as Psalm raps about God's neverending grace and how He'll always let the lost come home.

Though Psalm is no newcomer to the world of hip hop; we do find him as a new creation in Jesus. In some ways, Covenant shows his journey to serve the Lord better and better each day, coupled with his newfound desire to leave the world behind, as he speaks rather harshly toward sin and the things that the world is entranced with. With a sound akin to artists like Andy Mineo and NF (though the production isn't as spotless as these), Covenant should fit quite nicely with the average Christian rap fan's music collection. I, for one, will be keeping my eye on this emcee and his future work.

- Review date: 11/11/16, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com


Outline


    David Andrew Byrd, AKA Lyricidal, AKA Psalm, had his tumultuous life turned upside-down three years ago when he became a Christian, and his first album as a Christian artist gets to the nitty-gritty of that change. And it doesn't waste any time. Lead off track “If Life Is A Contest” immediately declares “If life is a contest, we’re all losing / because of all the nonsense we’re all choosing,” and proceeds to list off a dozen or so ways in which the world and the people in it are broken. Several songs on here are graphic (in a visceral way, not a profane way), with “Life of a 20” being maybe the most graphic song I’ve ever heard from a Christian artist. Does it get extreme and overboard? A little, but it is real, true to his life and experiences, hearkens back into that message from “If Life Is A Contest,” and ties it all directly into the Gospel message. In fact, his moniker might be the perfect way to sum up this album; they are psalms, prayers, and stories that point to God. For every “Life Is A 20,” there is a “Heal Him.” For every “My Neighbor’s Friend,” there is a “Come Home.” For some strange reason, Covenant makes me think of NF, but not because he is also a white rapper. I think of NF because of how totally and drastically different they are, even though their basic message is the same. Psalm is aggressive, but his aggression comes out in his lyrics and flow instead of his volume. Psalm spends very, very little time talking about himself, even though the stories he tells are so clearly based on his life experiences. His beats are old-school and technical instead of rocking and bombastic. In short, Psalm comes across as humble and others-oriented; the antithesis of NF. A couple lyrical quips had me scratching my head for exactly what Psalm meant (most notably the line, “His mama’s worried, prays for her child every night / but God ain’t really listening cuz his mom ain’t even living right,” which I feel like is supposed to be facetious, but the context doesn’t feel right for that), but for the most part, Covenant is a gem of an indie hip hop album. Plus a significant portion of Psalm’s earnings for this album will go directly to ministry. So it is a worthwhile listen and a worthwhile cause. If you like good, solid, hard-hitting, old-school hip hop, you will love Covenant. - Review date: 11/14/16, written by Mark Rice of Jesusfreakhideout.com


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. Record Label: MasterMindz Entertainment
. Album length: 22 tracks: 77 minutes, 48 seconds
. Street Date: June 25, 2016
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. If Life Is A Contest (4:48)
  2. Here's To Forgiveness (feat. Vill and Sticky Knewso) (4:33)
  3. Before I Move (2:42)
  4. Everything You Wanted (3:05)
  5. Good Man (2:37)
  6. Poisoned (4:26)
  7. My Neighbor's Friend (3:37)
  8. Heal Him (3:22)
  9. Run Away (feat. Fly Boy Swift and Jesse James) (3:20)
  10. Out of the River (3:29)
  11. What Have I Done (3:39)
  12. Forgive Me (3:18)
  13. Come Home (3:12)
  14. Man at the Altar (1:47)
  15. Never Forget (feat. Kenzie, Kiko Romero, and Tony Spitz) (4:06)
  16. I Knew A Girl (3:41)
  17. Made For This (3:59)
  18. My Shelter (2:46)
  19. Walk Away (3:16)
  20. Life of a 20 (3:58)
  21. When It All Comes Down (feat. Jesse James and Lady Tripp) (3:33)
  22. Like A River (feat. Nexus and Exigh) (4:34)
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  • Jesus Freak Hideout (Scott Fryberger): How long have you been serving the Lord?

    Psalm: I have been trying to serve the Lord for three years now. It has been an ongoing process, and I am definitely still a work in progress. I don't believe following Jesus is a one-time decision. Baptized, for me anyway, did not instantly equal better. I have had to learn many things the hard way, and my walk has involved many times of backsliding and being brought back to my knees by my failures. But in the three years since I first committed my life to Him, I have been slowly, but surely, learning just what it means to be a Christian. I know three years is probably not a long time for some people, but the amount of blessings and grace I have received in that short amount of time is, in my eyes, nothing short of a miracle.

  • JFH (Scott): What bands have influenced your style?When you became a Christian, how long did it take to come up with Psalm and Lyricidal as your new stage names?

    Psalm: Honestly, the name Psalm was a very last-minute thing. I wrestled with whether or not to even release the music I was making to the public. I ultimately put it in God's hands, and I believe that He opened doors to allow me to move forward with the project. When I did finally decide to release it, I was in the middle of the Book of Psalms, and it really struck me how the struggles and plights of men and women from thousands of years ago could still be relevant for me today. Lyricidal is a name that followed me over from my secular rap career. I held onto it hoping that my new message might reach some of the same audience that had been into my worldly stuff.

  • JFH (Scott): Idaho doesn't seem like a hot spring for rappers. How did you get into hip hop?

    Psalm: My brother, who is twelve years older than I am, got me into rap music at a pretty young age. I remember hearing a Snoop Dogg record for the first time and I was instantly hooked. Musically speaking, though, piano was my first love. I have done some band work before and absolutely loved it. I would like to be able to bring my piano skills to the table for a Christian band one day.

  • JFH (Scott): How long did you spend on making Covenant?

    Psalm: Covenant is basically a collection of songs that I worked on throughout the course of my three-year spiritual pilgrimage. I had turned away from making music in the public eye after it did a great deal of damage to my family life, but I still felt compelled to record music behind the scenes. It was very different than any of my past projects in that I didn't have any agenda or motive for the project. It was purely a means of self-expression for me during some of the most difficult, but beautiful years of my life. Every other project I had done before then came with this sense of urgency; I felt I had to consistently create and release new material in order to keep my buzz up. So I would rush to release at least one album per year, cutting corners to just get them out. And then, in hindsight, I would regret it, wishing I had taken more time and been more critical in selecting which songs made it onto these projects. It was very freeing to be able to take my time and just make music to express myself, and to worship and commune with my Creator without the distraction and burden of the whole marketing end of things weighing on me.

  • JFH (Scott): Covenant is packed with songs. Were there any that you had to leave off?

    Psalm: Every song I recorded in that three-year time made it onto the album. I've always had a problem with over-stuffing my projects. Back when I was doing secular music, I had several industry advisors tell me I should tighten my projects up and only include the best of the best of what I'd made. But I've always had trouble leaving anything off of my album once it's been created. As soon as I make a song, I almost feel as though it's a part of me, and I usually can't bring myself to discard it. It's probably not the best tactic as far as the music industry is concerned, and again, it has resulted in me later wishing I had left certain songs off. But, for now, and for this project, I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

  • JFH (Scott): What Christian rappers do you listen to?

    Psalm: I actually didn't even realize Christian rap exists in the way it does until very recently. I went through my first three years as a believer and through the production of my album thinking that gritty Christian rap music wasn't a real thing yet. This was part of the reason I struggled with whether to release my music or not, because I was afraid the Christian community wouldn't be receptive to it, and my secular fans had already been abandoning me in droves since I announced my conversion. I was very relieved when I came across artists like Andy Mineo, Lecrae, NF, and Trip Lee. These artists speak on real topics that are relevant to everybody, not just Christians. And I think that's hugely important in evangelical music. If only Christians can relate to the message, it may be edifying to them, but it's perhaps not very effective in spreading the good news to those who need it. Anyway, I have really enjoyed discovering all the diverse talent that's out there in the Christian music industry. I have also come across some insane underground talent that is virtually unknown, just from listening to my own new Pandora station. I don't listen to as much rap as a rapper should these days, though. I have a pretty eclectic taste, increasingly so as I get older, and I am into at least some music from practically every genre. Regardless of genre, though, it always blows my mind to think about how much great music there is out there that I will probably never get to hear.

  • JFH (Scott): "Life of a 20" is a pretty rough song. Can you talk a little about its message?

    Psalm: The message to this one is, I believe, absolutely Biblical: the love of money is the root of many evils. All of the lives that I touched on in that track are stories that I saw play out in real life, mostly in my own community. Our society has geared itself to where money is essential for most everybody, but we have allowed it to become our everything. We put it above the welfare of ourselves and others, and that's a tragedy that is applauded in today's world. This isn't a song that you would probably play for the congregation on a Sunday morning, but then not much of this project is. But I feel like these topics, however ugly they may be, need to be touched on, because there are people out there living this stuff everyday.

  • JFH (Scott): What do you want people to take away from Covenant?

    Psalm: I really just want people to understand that the God I love and serve is a God of love, a God for everybody. It doesn't matter how imperfect you are, how many times you have screwed up, or how much you doubt Him - He is there and He does love you. I won't pretend to have it all figured out, but I know that the things I have experienced since turning my life over to God are beyond the scope of explainable science, and the more faith I put in my God, the better my life seems to get. I am far from perfect, and I still have a lot of figuring out to do. I also want Christians to understand that there is a big world outside of the Church. It is easy for us to congregate on Sundays, to hold hands and worship, and go home feeling good about ourselves. But there is a world that is dying all around us. There are souls that are silently scremaing for a taste of what we have. And it is up to us. We are God's light in this darkness. He doesn't just love us Christians; He loves everybody. The whole world. And I think more than judging others or trying to shield ourselves from their corruption, we need to put more emphasis on just loving the world as Jesus did. We should be eating and sharing fellowship with sinners, not screaming at them from behind a protest sign. "Above all these is love," as the Bible says. That's my heart for this project.

  • JFH (Scott): Would you like to add anything else?

    Psalm: I just want to thank you guys for doing this for me! I am very excited to see where this new venture takes me. I have already been blown away by how well things have done. It truly feels as thogh God has His hand directly involved with my musical pursuit. But then, that doesn't surprise me. It seems all I've ever had to do to receive God's hand and blessings in any area of my life was ask and listen and truly be ready to follow His direction when I received it. My prayer is that everybody will one day get to know the joy and fulfillment that comes with that.

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