Every year, Gotee Records collects several of today's hot Christian hip hop stars, puts them on one disc, and calls it Hip Hope. This year is no exception. While Hip Hope Hits 2008 contains some of the same staple genre artists (like TobyMac and KJ-52), it also offers some new emcees and new songs from some of your favorite artists. This year's collection gets started off with a song from TobyMac's newest release, Portable Sounds. The song "Boomin'" isn't anything special, though they do rock out the bridge pretty nicely. It's followed by a new track from Family Force 5, "Whatcha Gon' Do With It." At first you might be surprised to see a band like Family Force 5 on a hip hop sampler, but when you think about previous FF5 songs like "Supersonic" and "Put Ur Hands Up," and when you hear "Whatcha Gon' Do With It," it makes perfect sense. Grits and Pigeon John collaborate to invite you to an "Open Bar," but don't worry, "It's livin' water baby, get your mind in order baby."
John Reuben follows with "Make Money Money," and as usual, makes for one of the best tracks on the disc. His clever lyrics and experimental music is a match that is sure to please. A new artist, GabeReal (from TobyMac's entourage), is next with "All My People," which proves to be a good debut for the artist, and makes him one to check out in the future. The three songs that follow just seem like filler songs, as they aren't nearly as good as the rest. "Do Yo Thang" by KJ-52 is just another KJ song, "Let It Roll" by Group 1 Crew is a little better with a catchy beat and chorus, but it's followed up by Manafest's song "Bounce," which doesn't seem to be a good choice for the compilation.
Soul P.'s "Hear My Cry," musically, reminisces on old school west coast rap, and has a style of flow somewhat similar to Snoop Dogg (He even pronounces words funny like Snoop). One of Christian rap's top DJ's, DJ Maj, brings us "Back To Center," and leads to another of Christian rap's top artists, LA Symphony, who encourage us to "Rise" over upbeat and even "happy" music. The torch is then passed to TobyMac's crew, minus Toby, known as Diverse Citizens (though TobyMac does make an appearance in the background vocals). It's a good "solo" debut for the Diverse Citizens. Just.Live brings a new slang to the table with "Bolla Atcha Hoy." He also brings a fairly repetitive song, and an unnecessary explanation of what "bolla atcha hoy" means ("let me bolla atcha hoy, yeah it's kinda like holla atcha boy").
Toward the end, we get Kansas City native Lyrycyst with "Showbiz," an improvement over his self-titled EP, but he still seems to lack a little bit in his flow. It's followed by newcomer Willie Will and his song "Move Something," which fairs better than the previous song, and then we hear from underground giants, Mars ILL. "When Heaven Scrapes The Pavement" is one of their slower jams, but manCHILD and Dust have immense talent that shows us just why they're still around, and why they will be around for a long time.
The 2008 edition of the Hip Hope series is definitely one of the best they have released, with lots of new songs from up and coming artists, and brand new tracks that are worth a listen for sure. There are enough good songs on the compilation to outweigh the not-so-good, and it's worth checking out - especially if you're looking for some new hip hop artists, or if you're trying to find some good alternatives to those in the mainstream.- Review date: 9/8/07, written by Scott Fryberger
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