For most rap fans, there is generally one thing that we always check out at any given time and that is free tunes. Especially when they come courtesy of Humble Beast/Fair Trade and the likes of Jackie Hill Perry. While we have not had a full-length release from JHP in close to four years, Crescendo will prove to be worth the wait as this 14-piece collection showcases an extremely personal side of the rapper. The focus of Crescendo is to remind us that as we journey on, as we walk in our spiritual lives, as we grow, our life is to become louder. As you delve into Jackie's open book, you will get a sense of her difficulties, her brokenness, and her vulnerabilities as she chooses to give herself over to God's care.
The album kicks off with "Lamentations," a spoken word song that is powerful, direct, and purpose-driven. It originates from the lowest parts of Perry's life as she rhymes "But I don't feel like it, I don't feel righteous. I know I'm whiter than snow, but I don't feel pious, I feel Pilate, trading saviors for Barabbas." The rapper touches on how we all feel at times while concluding with an encouragement to fully rely on God with the words "carry me God...I need help." "Hush" comes next and carries some seriously haunting beats while JHP spits rhymes in a beautiful and fluid way, while "No Ways Tired" is super catchy and head noddin'. "Melodies" serves as a great break from the rapping, to just chill and worship with the classic hymn, "Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus." It fits perfectly into the middle of the heaviness of this rap joint. "Thy Neighbor" follows specializing on the believer's role with other believers and among the body of Christ, and "HYMN" gives us a cypher style track which I see myself banging for years to come. The song has a most unique selection of featured artists with the likes of The Ambassador, Braille, Shai Linne, and Da Truth spitting seriously good rhymes while JHP concludes with fire: "the stars know his fame stays daily, It's reign season, His name's Jesus."
At this point, there is no denying the fact that Perry is intending Crescendo to be an open book, and when "Mustard Seed" hits, the vulnerability is evident. JHP begins rhyming "I just saw my therapist. She talked about feelings. She said that I'm scared of it" and the sense of brokenness being entrusted into God's care while the song concludes, "I wanna be grown. I wanna suffer long. I wanna be strong. I wanna be home." Near the end of the album is "Woman," which is such a beautiful and biblically based song that everyone needs to listen to as Jackie raps, "Let me be modest. Let me honest. Let me be woman. God forbid I ever tell God how it should be done," focusing on trusting the Creator over the culture that we live in. Closing out Crescendo is "Reprise," which is simply soulful singing, ending in praise to Jesus, and it is the perfect conclusion to this 14-track journey.
This album does not follow any rules when it comes to making music. You will be in the middle of a great hip hop track that suddenly turns into a beautiful piano piece, or you will be bumping some serious beats and then singing along to old hymns and it comes out lovely. Each part, no matter how out of the box it seems, flows perfectly and makes this a completely enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Jackie is honest, open, vulnerable, and encouraging as the listener takes this journey with her. The only potential drawback is that there aren't many light tracks, so it can tend to be a heavy/deeper listen. Those looking for upbeat, dance style tracks need to look elsewhere. However, that's the purpose of the album: to dig deep into this journey of life. If you enjoyed The Art Of Joy, then I am sure you will be digging Crescendo as it has the potential to be among the best of the year.
Whether she is rapping, writing, and doing some spoken word, Jackie Hill Perry is proving that she has the gifts and talents to be producing something worthy of all rap fans for a long time to come. Again, in case you missed it, the mighty mighty Humble Beast gives their tunes away for free, so drop them a donation if you can when you check out this one.- Review date: 5/17/18, written by Kevin Hoskins of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Humble Beast / Fair Trade Services
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