Lately, Christian rap and hip-hop of a certain flavor has been the only thing playing in my car. A few years ago, I switched roles at HJ, from Music Editor to DVD/TV coordinator, excited for the opportunity to oversee our networking with the movie distribution companies. Frankly, I love movies but am too broke to go to the theater and overseeing the DVD circuit gave me more of an opportunity to watch. But I was also completely burned out on music. For almost a whole year, I listened to sports talk radio or drove in silence. I just couldn’t hear anything without being super critical about the music, my cynicism of over-inundated abundance had worn me out.
But then I started listening to Lecrae, and then Trip Lee, thanks to the suggestion of Music Editor Nate Watts. I quickly bought the Lecrae backlog, playing the music of these Christian rappers over and over in the car, at the gym, on my computer. I bought the music of Tedashii, PrO, and Braille, to go along with the music of GRITS and Cross Movement that was already there. I was listening for the Word in the midst of words, in the midst of the music, these rappers preached to my soul.
Beautiful Eulogy is like that, and it’s not. It’s rap, and it’s not. It’s the equivalent of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman experimenting or Dustin Kensrue making solo music from Thrice. There are the elements there of what you know, but they’ve been tweaked and something different and new is forming. Braille joins Courtland Urbano and Odd Thomas (named for the Dean Koontz character?) to form Beautiful Eulogy, and their first album Satellite Kite has guitar picking, rapping, earthy sounds, and electronic beats, all wrapped up in a Mute Math-like explosion of character and sound.
That said, I’m still not sure what I think of Humble Beast’s first release as a label. I’m definitely down with the 116 (you know who you are!) Some of the songs just don’t do anything for me right away. There seems to be a disparity in the “gospel-oriented” content that’s a pretty wide gap. Some of it is pretty direct, like the titular song about how the church is part of the love bond that holds us together with God. There’s some theological discussion of how God preordains or chooses us, and whether or not that’s allowing us the opportunity for choice, which is absolutely deep, mixed in with some songs that really drop to the background.
But the absolute truth here is that Braille shines through the threesome’s delivery. And it will take me awhile, a week, a month, to unpack the album absolutely. But it’s definitely something that will give you some food for thought, even if you don’t get sucked in by the moody music involved.