If you follow Christian pop/hip-hop music at all, chances are you've already heard of Shonlock, although you may not know it. Deshon "Shonlock" Bullock has for many years been a singer and dancer with tobyMac's famous Diverse City Band, and has been a guest on several tobyMac songs, including a version of the hit "Boomin." Last November, Shonlock had the chance to step out on his own as an artist with the release of his debut EP, Where Never Begins.
Where Never Begins is six solid tracks (along with intro/outro tracks and an interlude) ranging stylistically from pure radio pop to high-energy club music to raw rap. The EP's single, "Something In Your Eyes," has already garnered significant airtime on Christian radio, although it gives a somewhat misleading impression of the rest of the album. "Something In Your Eyes" is a relaxed, melodic, pop song driven by a steady electronic beat that would sound right at home on contemporary hit radio. It turns out to be by far the most radio-friendly track on the record, as the rest of Where Never Begins is significantly heavier and geared more towards the club and party scene.
Fortunately, it's excellent music. Shonlock shows himself to be a capable and versatile songwriter and lyricist, and he has top-notch chops when he starts rapping, especially in "Simple Man." Meanwhile, "Bet Yah House" is a frantic track that goes from straight-up hip-hop into a chanting female chorus into some soulful electric guitar. "Set It Off" is begging to be played at a club, while "Monsta" borrows a page from rock music with a chugging hard rock beat and a heavy guitar layer. The latter track even features some screaming. Considering this EP only has six full tracks, Shonlock manages to show some remarkable stylistic diversity, with very few missteps.
Word has it that we may get a full-length release from Shonlock sometime this year. If so, this EP is a very encouraging preview of what he can bring to the table musically. It's also an excellent release by itself, sure to make you tap your feet and get down perhaps just a little bit. If you missed this EP when it released last November, you would do well to pick it up now.- Review date: 3/19/11, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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