The power pop/dance music movement has boomed amazingly over the past couple years. Of course that's a statement that would make you say "Duh!" but being a fact, this phenomenon doesn't seem to be dying out much, if at all, either. Forefront pop/dance artists with a big heart for kids, Raze debuted an EP in 1998, with their first full-length album, Power, released in 1999. The group has become known for their high energy shows and encouraging, upbeat message.
Their second full-length album, The Plan doesn't seem to carry quite the "power" that their debut album possessed. With a little more emphasis on beats and a little heavier hip-hop influence, The Plan is another vehicle for the foursome to share the message of God's love and for the group to stretch their vocal chords. The album begins with two very short intros, made up of various sounds including a modem dialing up to the internet. "The Plan" is the first song on the album, a slower-paced tune with bouncing synths and pop vocal harmonies. "Amazing" is an even slower-paced track with a highly prominent rap beat accompanied by deliberately choppy vocals in the chorus and more bouncing synths throughout. Raze's lyrics are quite simple, but effective for the music, mostly praise lyrics singing of the Lord's love.
Some may recognize "Celebration" from 80s, which was originally written by Kool and the Gang in 1980. Raze does a decent modernized dance version of this 80s party classic. "Follow Your Dreams" picks up the tempo more like previous Raze material. Major difference this time around is Mizzie and Donnie offer up more rap vocals from time to time, and often flavor the songs with a party feel as if the song was recorded at a dance party of sorts. It works for the music, but may sound a bit corny at times to some. "If You Go" is a pleasant change for Raze. Given the feel and rhythm of a power pop ballad, but is enhanced with strings performed by the Nashville String Machine. A lot of the remainder of the album tends to sound alike and flow together. However, "More Than a Dream" is a power pop ballad with a Backstreet Boys/NSync feel before the beat picks up and takes the ballad up a notch. "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble," which first appeared on Forefront's Eterne praise compilation earlier in the summer, closes out the album with its subdued vocals and fast tempo. When the song ends, the track continues with a slow dance beat that leads into a bold message from Jamarc sharing of God's love and inviting the listener to seek God's plan for their life and to accept Jesus into their heart if they don't know Him. The track carries on for an additional 8 minutes after the song is over as the music continues and Jamarc and the crew share scripture and encouraging words with the listener.
It's obvious where Raze stands with their mission and ministry as The Plan is an open book to that. A decent follow-up to Power, but nothing really extraordinary, The Plan is still a hip dance party album to check out if you're looking for some new positive tunes to groove to.- Review date: 1/16/01, written by John DiBiase
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