I would be remiss to not start this post out by sending a rest in peace to Black Rob and the heart and soul of Digital Underground, Shock G. Thank you both for your contributions to the music genre and culture that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Freedom of Soul was a Los Angeles-based Christian rap duo composed of Peace 586 and DJ Cartoon. The first time we heard from FOS was in 1991 with their debut album, Caught In A Land Of Time. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you probably already knew that, but if you’re new here or just skim through my posts occasionally, you can read my thoughts on the album right here. Or you can just read this quick recap: The album was full of weak rhymes with good intentions, decent production and plenty of room for development on both sides. A few years later, the two-man army for God would return with their sophomore effort, The 2nd Comin’. Get it? Their second album, Jesus’ return? Okay. Let’s move on.
Peace 586, along with his Christian ally and the heart and soul of the group, SFC, Sup The Chemist, handled most of the production on Caught In A Land Of Time, but this time around Peace takes a back seat (well, front seat, since he is still the lead emcee of the group) and lets Sup, DJ Cut No Slack and his partner in rhyme, DJ Cartoon, produce the bulk of The 2nd Comin’, only receiving one production credit out of the album’s nine tracks (technically ten, if you count the hidden three second interlude). The 2nd Comin’ would also be the last comin’ for Freedom of Soul, as Peace would begin his solo career, and I have absolutely no idea what DJ Cartoon went on to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his name pops up again on this blog somewhere down the road receiving a production credit for another Christian group, because God works in mysterious ways, and interesting enough, that saying is not written anywhere in the bible.
Disclaimer: I’m not sure where I got the above album release date from, but I’m pretty sure it’s incorrect, since I recently looked at all the album inserts and copyrights and everything has “1994” written on it. But I’ve invested the last few weeks listening to The 2nd Comin’, so you’re gettin’ this post, even if it’s chronologically out of order.
The 2nd Comin’ – The title track finds a more animated than normal Peace 586 and DJ Cartoon talking sanctified trash, while mixing in a few biblical references and a few hints to get you to prepare for Christ’s return. The rhymes were kind of corny, but Sup’s instrumental was cool, and DJ Cartoon scratches in a portion of a Busta Rhymes’ bar from ATCQ’s classic posse joint “Scenario” on the first hook, satisfying Tribe Degrees of Separation for this post. The song is immediately followed by a short, subdued and uninteresting instrumental before the next song begins.
Home – The concept of this song is loosely based around the biblical text from Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. Peace discusses home, first in the literal sense, as he reminisces about his childhood memories coming up in the Bronx, before ending the song from a spiritual perspective of home on the last verse. The rhymes were so-so, but I like the concept and I enjoyed Peace’s smooth instrumental.
Dusk Till Dawn – Over a super creamy backdrop built around a heavenly-dipped piano loop, Peace is in freestyle mode, touching on everything from his rhyming abilities to his album being banned in some record stores (I’ve heard of albums being banned for being overly sexual (i.e., 2 Live Crew) or too violent (i.e., N.W.A.), but can you be too holy? Or maybe Christian record stores thought FOS’s content was too carnal. Either way, I would love to hear Peace elaborate on that line.), and of course, he mentions Jesus. At this point it’s safe to say that Peace won’t wow you with his rhymes, but Sup, once again, concocts a great backdrop for our host to rhyme over.
Sooner Or Later – Sup The Chemist and T-Bone join Peace on the mic for this posse joint, as the threesome take turns showcasing their rhyming abilities, but ultimately use it as a witnessing tool for Christ. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you already know that I’m a fan of both of Peace’s guests, and they rap circles around their host, but the true star of this one is Sup’s up-tempo backdrop, drenched in soulful airy vibes.
Not This Record – Pigeon John and B-Twice (collectively known as Brainwash Projects) join Peace on this zany joint that finds all three emcees rhyming animatedly and interrupting each other every few bars, and after several listens, I still have no idea what’s going on here. Sup, whose production has been super impressive up to this point, dishes out his first mishap of the night, making this already difficult listen even more of a battle to get through. Everything about this song reminds me of a bad imitation De La Soul record, circa De La Soul Is Dead. Later down the road, Brainwash Projects would polish up, refine and direct all their infectious charisma and animated energy into one of my personal favorite hip-hop albums of all-time (The Rise And Fall Of Brainwash Projects), but we’ll discuss that at a later date. At the conclusion of this song, you hear that irrelevant three second interlude that I talked about in the opening. Side note: If you’re looking for the correct track listing for this album, make sure to follow the listing on the back of the jewel case, since the listing on the inside of the liner notes incorrectly places this song after the next song. Of course, that’s only if you’re old school like me and still have CDs. Moving on…
Never Changes – In a super abstract roundabout way, Peace uses this one to rap about the everlasting unconditional love of God, while Crystal Lewis stops by to sing the hook, sprinkling her soft and sweet voice over the track. Cartoon’s instrumental sounds borderline sappy, but I still enjoyed the song.
Soul Swingers – Peace uses this one to spew more freestyle rhymes and of course shouts out JC a few times during the process. DJ Cut No Slack’s instrumental goes through three different metamorphosis and all three phases sound dope as, for lack of a better word, hell.
SonShyne – Peace invites LPG (Dax and Jurny Big, who we’ll be talking about more in the very near future) to join him on this one, as the three emcees elegantly rap praises to the Father’s only begotten son over DJ Cut No Slack’s beautiful banger of a backdrop. This is easily the best song on The 2nd Comin’.
How Much It Cost? – The last song of the evening finds Peace calling out emcees he feels have sold their souls in order to get a foot into the music industry. As usual, Peace’s rhymes are mediocre, but they sound even more drab when placed over Cartoon’s yawn-provoking instrumental.
The 2nd Comin’ is definitely an improvement from Freedom of Soul’s debut album. Peace’s decision to render most of the production duties to Cartoon and Sup, works out well, as the instrumentals are tighter this time around. And with the production responsibilities off his plate, Peace is able to focus more on his rhymes; and while no one will ever mistake him for Rakim, he does sound better than he did on the first album. Ultimately, The 2nd Comin’ is a concise satisfactory listen that will probably feed your soul more musically than with the rhymes. I’m sure that wasn’t FOS’ intention, but they should be proud they were able to provide some type of nourishment.