When it comes to Canada and hip-hop, those two words don't normally seem to go well together. However, if one has Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch producing their project, then anything coming out of Canada is bound to be of good quality. Ontario-born rapper Chris Greenwood, aka Manafest, was discovered by McNevan and had his debut Epiphany produced by him as well.
Best described as hip-hop with a touch of rock, Manafest may be an artist who's styles and rhythms sound like they've been done before (i.e. Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Vanilla Ice's attempt at rapcore). Nevertheless, the listener is treated to a worthy effort that will grow on him with repeated listens.
The majority of the cuts presented on Epiphany relate to the artist's personal struggles and life experiences. The track "Rockin' Me" is a mellow rock/rap song about Greenwood's struggles and pressures of being an artist on and off the stage, while "My Life" has the artist discussing his early grievances of having to deal with the fact that his father committed suicide when he was only 5 years of age. Another noteworthy song is the upbeat, funkadelic "Let It Go," which speaks of situations and circumstances Chris faced while growing up. The true rock vibe of Epiphany strikes a big chord with songs like "Skills" (featuring guest vocals from Trevor McNevan), the raucous, crowd-shaking "Stressed Out," and the non-conformist themed "Be Yourself." What's not surprising is that Manafest takes time out to describe his love not only for God and rock n' roll, but his passion for skateboarding in his song "Manafesto." The remaining tracks on the album speak out on the issues of displaying the wrong stereotypes, trying too hard to be like other people in the world, and Greenwood's metamorphosis of Christ transforming his life into one that pleases the Lord, as reflected in the song "Changes."
The only factor that Epiphany tends to suffer from in a couple of areas is repetitiveness in some of the songs. Fortunately, overproduction and crisp sound quality never poses a problem throughout the album's duration.
As already mentioned, Manafest's debut may take more than a listen or two to fully appreciate his talent and attempts at songwriting. If you're a music fan that isn't too picky on diversity within the confines of an individual project that fuses rock and hip-hop together, than Epiphany is the project for you. However, if you're looking for an album that holds its own in the form of groups like The Cross Movement, Grits, and Mars Ill, then this particular project might be one you'd be better off borrowing from your friend before making a decision on purchasing the record itself. In all fairness, Manafest presents an effort that leaves plenty of room for improving his slight flaws in the coming years.- Review date: 8/1/05, written by Paul Portell
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