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JFH Music Review

Propaganda, Crimson Cord

Crimson Cord

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Hip Hop / Rap
Album length: 13 tracks: 45 minutes, 53 seconds
Street Date: April 29, 2014

Propaganda has finally returned with the follow up to his aptly titled Excellent. Prop's newest album, Crimson Cord, doesn't quite carry the weight of its predecessor, but still packs a pretty solid punch nonetheless. His talent is unquestioned by most and he takes a bit of a different approach to hip-hop than most artists. Prop continues to keep his sound varied this time around with standard hip-hop mixed with some old school boom-bap and straightforward poetry. One would be hard-pressed to find another artist doing things quite like Propaganda.

Crimson Cord opens with the poetic spoken word track "Mock Me." Prop gets open and honest quickly about struggles in his life and how Satan mocks him in these situations. It's a powerful poem that will likely touch many lives of those who hear the words. The final lines spoken are actually the chorus to the title track. In "Crimson Cord," Prop explains the term by saying, "The pain that guides us; the strings that tie us; the coincidence that proves to us God's existence. Joy we misplace; beautiful mistakes; the scarlet thread; the crimson cord." The song is definitely one of the album's most enjoyable. My personal favorite song strikes next though. "Daywalkers," featuring Lecrae, has a great sound. The title of the track seems to be a bit of a reference to the movie Blade. Prop says in a half-sung rap, "We are all daywalkers, hybrids, bilingual, bicultural…" When Crae takes the mic, he throws down one of the most memorable verses on the album. The background music is out of his norm, but he seems so comfortable doing it. "Bored of Education" starts up in a couple tracks and gives a rousing message to our educational system. This track is also a spoken word, poetic venture. Prop says, "Dear Board [bored] of Education, So are we..." The words point out so many great topics, but not only does he point out problems, he offers solutions.

"Thanks Rev" has to be one of the better interludes in hip-hop history. Obviously, that's a single person's opinion, but listening to "Doctor Bishop Holton III Jr., pastor of the Mountain Dew Missionary Baptist Church of God and Christ of the greater Riverside area," talk about "Memoranda," is quite hysterical. According the "pastor," Crimson Cord is an audio sequel to the Denzel Washington movie Crimson Tide "with Denzel and Jesus starring in it, but going to war against the Devil." "I Don't See It" is another solid track and gives a challenge to not buy into the things our current society preaches. "When they closing all the currents to convince you that it's night time: Don't believe 'em; don't believe 'em. And when they tell you it's a must have and you can't live without it, listen: You don't need it; you don't need it. And when they tell you sweet this and only this is beautiful, tell 'em: I don't see it. I don't see it." Prop gets personal as he tells stories of friends from different racial and cultural backgrounds. "How Do I Get Here" follows as another enjoyable track and features Andy Mineo and JGi vens. The song carriers a slightly different vibe than much of the album, -- it's a little more mainstream -- but it works well. "Redeemed" is the final song and rivals "Daywalkers" as the album favorite. Its slower tempo gives it a completely different feel than the record's second single, but its huge chorus and tight verses really set it off. The album closes with "Tell Me Yours." The track is less poetic than "Mock Me" or "Bored of Education," but is also spoken word in nature. The words serve as a giant thank-you more detailed than any liner notes section. Prop ends the monologue by saying, "These deserve your thanks. If you see them say I sent you. I didn't know then, but I know now, and I cannot ignore, these are my crimson cord. Yo, tell me yours."

As expected from Propaganda, Crimson Cord is a deep and thought-provoking experience. The record as a whole is pretty great from start to finish, but there are honestly a couple of slower moments in the middle. Unfortunately, the totality of the album is not as "excellent" as his last, but Prop still serves up an album his fans will love. You can purchase a digital or physical copy of the album to support Prop's ministry, or as always, you can enjoy his music for free through Humble Beast. Propaganda is most definitely not your everyday hip-hop artist. If you've only heard him in some guest spots here and there, this is a good time to check out his solo work. It may not be his best, but that doesn't mean that it isn't really good nonetheless.

- Review date: 4/27/14, written by Michael Weaver of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

"Excellent" was an understatement to describe Propaganda's 2012 release, even if it was its title. Thought-provoking to the point of paradigm-shifting, with raps and beats to match, Excellent was easily one of that year's best releases across any genre. Now in 2014, the Humble Beast rapper and former Tunnel Rat is back with more to say on Crimson Cord. Relishing in the challenge of following up a project like Excellent, Crimson Cord features some equally mind-bending raps and spoken work pieces, from the opening track, "You Mock Me," to the closer, "Tell Me Yours." Indeed, to try to list all the lyrical and thematic highlights would be a fruitless endeavor in one small side-column, but trust me when I say that there are highlights galore. Never one to mince words, Prop is as comfortable addressing the deficiencies of America's educational system ("Dear Bored of Education, so are we /… if your brightest stars are always dim, something must be wrong with your glasses / if every place you touch on your body hurts, then your fingers must be broken" from "Bored of Education") as he is bringing the demons of his past to light ("I try to upgrade the way I speak and raise my daughter / but every time I open my mouth, all I hear is my father / and the same foolish pride and pitfalls he installed / leap through my pores like, 'poor me,' so annoying!" from "You Mock Me"). "Framed Stretch Marks" represents a graphic-yet-beautiful metaphor for God's love, and also doubling as an ode from Prop to his wife and her strength. More so than any other rap artist out there, Prop is done wasting words (as he said beautifully on 2011's Art Ambidextrous), making sure everything that flows from his mouth is poetic and purposeful, even on the more beat-driven tracks like "Daywalkers" or "Make," or even Alphonso McAuley's guest spot on the humorous interlude "Thanks Rev." The production is once again supplied by Beautiful Eulogy, and while it might not be quite as varied or experimental as Excellent (no haunting cello work this time around), it remains one of the album's strong selling points. - Review date: 4/27/14, Mark Rice

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JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

    Propaganda has become one of the most consistent hip hop artists of today, releasing fantastic and insightful music on a relatively fast basis. His third outing in three years, Crimson Cord, comes courtesy of Humble Beast Records once again, and it's the same quality fans have come to expect. Prop's combination of spoken word and hip hop makes for a diverse listen, as Crimson Cord takes you through a fair dosage of beat-driven tracks as well as poetry-with-beats, if you will. Prop touches on unity, as noticed in the track "Three Cord Bond" (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and in the message of "I Ain't Gave Up On You Yet," where he mentions that, though some things in life make him upset (hip hop, his city, his people), he hasn't given up on them yet. The production is on point and the guest spots are tight and fit well with the sound (though Lecrae's verse offered nothing of substance, which is out of character for the rapper; it was nice to hear Lee Green rap again, though, since the last time I can remember him rapping on a track was on Beautiful Eulogy's 2012 album, Satellite Kite). And as someone who works in the public school system, "Bored of Education" is enough to get me standing up and cheering. If you've yet to pick this album up, make sure you do it soon. - 4/30/14, Scott Fryberger of



. Record Label: Humble Beast
. Album length: 13 tracks: 45 minutes, 53 seconds
. Street Date: April 29, 2014
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. You Mock Me (2:37)
  2. Crimson Cord (4:03)
  3. Daywalkers (feat. Lecrae) (3:04)
  4. Make (2:40)
  5. Bored Of Education (4:47)
  6. Thanks Rev (1:56)
  7. I Ain't Gave Up On You Yet (3:43)
  8. Framed Stretch Marks (feat. Braille) (3:39)
  9. I Don't See It (3:17)
  10. Three Cord Bond (4:28)
  11. How Did We Get Here (feat. Andy Mineo & Jgivens) (3:31)
  12. Redeem (feat. Lee Green) (4:29)
  13. Tell Me Yours (3:48)

    iTunes Bonus Tracks:
  14. Make (Bonus Track) [Remix] (2:30)
  15. I Can't Call It (Bonus) [PRE-ORDER ONLY] (3:06)


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