Not many people expect a rapper from Canada to make it very big, especially when that rapper is also rooted heavily in Christian music. Manafest has done what many probably see as an impossible feat and managed to put out two noteworthy albums in the past three years. While his debut Epiphany was not a complete bust, the rapper's sophomore effort Glory showcased some of his best tracks, in both rock and rap styles. Now Chris Greenwood, aka Manafest, is ready to release his third full length record, Citizens Activ.
The elements that separated Manafest's first two records were mainly seen in the power of each track. While hits like "Skills" and "Rockin' Me" had the rock hard edge that is rarely seen in the rap style in this day and age, many songs felt rushed and simple. Glory improved on nearly every inconsistency from his debut, so it may seem only natural to expect a lot from this third record. One thing that is definitely not absent from Citizens Activ is the head-bobbing beats. Songs like "Break Up," "4321," and the pop/rock single "So Beautiful," all have a beat that you can't help but rock with. While some of the choruses can be monotonous and lack lyrical depth ("It's a break up, oh no! / She's from Venus and I'm from Mars / I try to understand it but I'm just not from the planet"), it makes for a great radio hit. The rock edge is still evident in nearly every track, especially hard-hitters like "Kick It," which is also one of two or three tracks featuring Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch.
One thing that Manafest is never afraid to voice is his attitude and faith. Nearly every track has a real leveled feeling to it, making it seem that the rapper really wants to get to know the kids he's making the music for. Songs like "Lean On Me" are straight from his heart, while the funk-flavored "Steppin' Out" puts the rapper right out for all his critics to see, not ashamed of anything he's done or said. The only thing that doesn't work for Citizens Activ is the track "Good Day," which is way too slow for its own good. The chorus nearly makes the rapper slur his vocals to get it down slow enough for an R&B vibe, and it really ruins the feel of the song as a whole. But one song does not ruin a record, and it certainly doesn't destroy Manafest's signature sound.
While Citizens Activ may not be as up to par as his last release, Manafest has definitely matured since his debut and showcases those changes on this new release. Rock-infused raps abound, and fans of the rapper will likely find plenty to love here, adding on another record to their collection.- Review date: 6/22/08, written by Justin Mabee
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