As if he wasn't busy enough, KJ-52 has started a band as a side project for fans of Pillar, Thousand Foot Krutch and Kutless. Peace of Mind is comprised mainly of KJ, Todd Collins (who has produced records for such bands as dc talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Out of Eden), and Pete Stewart (of the late Grammatrain and formerly of Tait). With a line-up like that, one can only expect an exceptional project; and, for the most part, this is true.
At its core, Peace of Mind is rap disc; but it mixes elements of rock, hip-hop, reggae, and an electronic sound (for a lack of better words). For the most part this formula works, but it seems a little out of place in others. But before I get too critical, let's talk about the CD's many high points.
The album kicks off with perhaps the best track on the disc, "Turn It Up." A very energetic song in which KJ-52, who provides virtually all vocals on the disc, lets the world know that not only can he rap, but he can rock too. The song is basically a party anthem with a little bit of humor thrown in. Another album highlight is the in-your-face "I Am" which continually chants "I Am" as it speaks of "Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High" and the One "Who died, but is still alive." I have to admit, the first time I heard this song it just seemed like a bunch guys screaming and rapping out of turn with rock guitar and strange electronic sounds; but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. The song still sounds a little strange, but it's definitely a great song with an even better message.
"Coming Soon," "Scream," and "After All" are also album highlights. "Coming Soon" tells the story of a man walking down a street when the Rapture occurs (it turns out to just be a dream). "Scream" is about wanting to escape and realizing that only God can fill the emptiness in your life, and "After All" is just a song of thanks to God.
On the downside, some songs border on being bland. As long as KJ is rapping, things are good, but sometimes the choruses just don't always measure up. Choruses to songs like "Don't Ever Give Up" and "We're Gonna Make It" just feel dull compared to the rest of the songs. And while "Crucify" is a good song, it is accompanied with a beat that is so awkward it nearly kills the song before it starts. It sounds as though it came straight out of an 80's pop song. Thankfully, the lyrics, which speak of Jesus being persecuted right before death, and KJ's vocals are deep and moving enough to save the last track of the album.
Peace of Mind is not for everyone. Even certain rock and rap fans - the only ones who need apply - may not dig it; but if you're a KJ-52 fan, chances are you'll love this. It's a little rough around the edges, but definitely worth a listen if you have a soft spot for a combo of rock and rap.- Review date: 3/30/03, written by Josh Taylor
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