A couple of post ago I wrote about the Christian rap duo the Dynamic Twins and their debut album Word 2 The Wize. Today’s post kind of ties into that one in a 7 degrees of separation kind of way. The Dynamic Twins and Super C, who produced a large chunk of Word 2 The Wize, both resided in California and were associated with another pioneering Christian hip-hop crew from California, Freedom of Soul.
Freedom Of Soul was made up of Peace (the emcee) and Cartoon (the deejay). I became familiar with Peace as a solo artist in the late nineties-early ‘2000’s and liked some of his production work on his solo records as well as some of the stuff he would produce for arguably the best Christian hip-hop collective of all time, Tunnel Rats, but we’ll dig in to that (see what I did there) at a later date. Freedom Of Soul would release their debut album Caught In A Land of Time on Brainstorm Artists International which was an independent Christian label whose focus was on distributing west coast Christian hip-hop and modern rock as neither were widely accepted genres in the Christian Community in the early nineties
I’m not sure what the critics thoughts were on Caught In A Land of Time upon its release as I’m sure most secular hip-hop critics never heard of it, and I’d be willing to bet my left arm that it didn’t receive any RIAA certifications. As long as Jesus certified it, that’s all that matters, right?
Freedom Of Soul – Peace opens up the album introducing he and his deejay Cartoon to the congregation over a sub par Victor Everett instrumental. If this is any indication to how Caught In A Land of Time is going to go I’m not too excited.
Caught In A Land Of Time – After the underwhelming first song, I got excited when I read the liner notes and saw that Super C produced this one. Then the instrumental dropped and all the excitement exited my body faster than a teenage boy prematurely ejaculating when losing his virginity. And just like she was, I was disappointed. By the way, Peace’s flow sounds like garbage on this one.
Runnin’ Thru My Mind – Peace gets his first production credit of the evening and hooks up a smooth joint as he explains how Jesus is always running through his mind. Boy, Jesus’ feet must be pretty tired. Then again, he probably doesn’t get tired, being the son of God and all.
A Touch Of Soul – Super C rips the instrumental from the classic Slave hit “Just A Touch Of Love” at wholesale as Peace stumbles through his 3 verses like a baby taking his first steps.
Cookin’ Bacon – Interlude.
Blue Sky Lies – Derek Drew who goes by DJ Cut No Slack hooks up a sample of Al Greene’s classic “Love And Happiness” record for the backdrop as Peace and his buddy J-1 discuss the things of this world and how untrue they are when viewed from an eternal perspective. At least that’s what I got from it.
Acknowledgments – Over a smooth jazz piano a female guest credited as Twiggy gives shoutouts to some of the people who inspired Freedom Of Soul, which runs the gamut from musicians, to athletes, to politicians. This was a cool way to mark the mid way point of Caught In A Land of Time.
It’s On You – Peace uses this one to explain to the listener where you go after death is determined by the decisions you make while on earth. Message! Super C’s instrumental is decent enough, I guess.
This Is Love – Peace tries to ape Q-Tip’s cadence from “Bonita Applebum” and fails miserably. At least his instrumental is pretty interesting as he samples Patrice Rushen’s “Remind Me” for the intro, hook, and outro and a KC & The Sunshine Band sample (the same one the Digable Planets would use a few years later for their record “Where I’m From”) during the verses. Guest vocalist Jon Gibson provides a solid vocal during the hook which was a nice touch.
Can’t Hold Back – Peace invites another pioneering Christian hip-hop group Idol King in for this session as each party expresses their excitement for serving the Lord. DJ Cut No Slack’s instrumental sounds like a mix between the instrumental from the opening track “Freedom Of Soul” and the instrumental from Kane’s “Nuff Respect Due”, so take that for what it’s worth. Cut No Slack does put in some solid work on the ones and two’s at the end of the song, though.
Cartoon Goes To Texas – This was pretty much just an excuse for DJ Cartoon’s to get a chance to show his skills on the ones and two’s. If ATCQ’s “Can I Kick It” had a baby with LL’s “I’m Going Back To Cali”, this is what it would sound like. I wasn’t impressed.
Skin Deep – Super C hooks up a smooth mid-tempo groove that Peace uses to discuss the shallowness of judging people based on the outwards appearance and how much our lives and the world are impacted by it. Nice intent but this was poorly executed. Peace’s rhymes sound so elementary it’s like he borrowed Marty McFly’s DeLorean and went back to 1979 to write this song.
January 15th – This is an extended interlude to celebrate the life of MLK (January 15th is his birthday). Peace hooks up a mellow instrumental with sound bites from a few of MLK’s speeches sprinkled throughout that set the mood for you to reflect on the life and accomplishments of the late great civil rights leader. Nice.
Y Don’t You Want To Play Me – Peace sends this one out to Christian radio as he questions why they refuse to play his music. If he sent them this song I can’t blame them for not playing this but rather choosing to use it as a Frisbee.
Serious Lyrics – Peace choses to close Caught In A Land of Time with a simple hand snap (that changes it’s pace at least 3,000 times) for the backdrop as he spits one long verse about Christ, crack, and his calling. He sounds horrid as the empty space behind his vocal really exposes how anorexic his flow is.
Caught In A Land of Time isn’t a completely terrible debut from our sanctified brethren. Most of Peace and Super C’s instrumentals sound incomplete but are still kind of interesting. The biggest problem I have with Caught In A Land of Time is Peace and his elementary rhyming scheme. It’s so bad at times it will make you question if he’s being serious or on some Weird Al shit. Al might have been able to take Peace in a battle. You think I’m playing? Listen to “White And Nerdy”. Al got bars, son. If this was my first exposure to Peace it would have probably been my last, so I completely understand if the few of you out there that actually heard this album or will give it a chance think it’s garbage. Peace would get better as time went on. Well, at least his production got tighter.