Propaganda – Excellent

By Jessica C on October-8-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , , | Share

Propaganda – Excellent
Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/55
4.7 (18 votes)

Band: Propaganda
Title: Excellent
Record Label: Humble Beast Records
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Reviewer: Jessica Cooper

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Listen To Me
  2. Excellent
  3. Redefine Cutter ft. Lee Green
  4. Raise The Banner
  5. Excellent Analogy ft. Alphonso McAuley
  6. Conquer ft. Theory Hazit
  7. Precious Puritans ft. Kevin “K.O.” Olusola (cello)
  8. Forgive Me For Asking
  9. I Ain’t Got An Answer ft. Sho Baraka
  10. Warm Words
  11. Lofty ft. Joel (Ascend The Hill) & Beautiful Eulogy
  12. Be Present (Live from Catalyst Atlanta)

It’s not a commonality in the music industry for an artist to create something and give it a name that sums up its entirety in such a bold and accurate way. Props to Propaganda and his new project Excellent, a superior piece of art stuffed with truth, bursting with originality, not lacking in boldness, that accurately conveys his brilliance as an artist. There’s no surprise in that when you also consider that the album is saturated with the organic production stylings of Odd Thomas, Braille, and Courtland Urbano, the collaborative genius known as Beautiful Eulogy.

The sound on Excellent is so diverse, incorporating backwoods blues, almost orchestral composition, and instrumental components produced from scratch by Beautiful Eulogy, giving it a natural, cohesive flow of sounds that are both organic and futuristic. Lyrical content is potent, hard-hitting, and challenges listeners to take charge in all walks of life, using political, cultural, and social awareness as a backdrop for its overall message. It’s aggressive, passionate, and convicting, and those characteristics are what make a great hip hop album.

The guest vocal collaboration on this album is incredible as well. “Redefine Cutter” features Lee Green, who lays aside his ample rap skills for a bluesy vocal part. Then we have the return of Alphonso McAuley, who was on the Art Ambidextrous project Propaganda did with Odd Thomas, on “Excellent Analogy”. This track is centered around defining the word ‘excellent’ according to pop culture and social norms, and while it takes a comedic turn towards the end, it still gives the audience a glimpse of how our foundation of excellence has more than metaphorically crumbled over time.

“Conquer” features Theory Hazit, another Humble Beast artist known for his realness and authenticity. This track is so impactful in its content: “I’m sick and tired of people blaming the devil when we need accountability, growth, and never settle, for your maturity level’s like filthy rags, and when He conquers, everybody wave the white flag.”

Probably my favorite track on Excellent in the realm of composition is “Precious Puritans”. The track features Kevin “K.O.” Olusola on the cello, and his contribution to the song is enough to give you chills. After an 8-count of the bow rapidly gliding across the strings, classic bass beats kick in along with what sounds like a torque wrench, followed by a snare drum roll, various clicking noises, and I’m pretty sure I heard the squawks of a seagull faintly in the background. It sounds like this track was recorded adrift at sea. All these crazy sounds coming together to create such a cohesive piece of art blows my mind. One of my favorite lines is in this song:  “So I guess it’s true, that God really does use crooked sticks to make straight lines, just like your precious Puritans.”

There’s so much beauty in the simplicity of an acoustic track, but when it’s laced with simple hip hop rhythm, a new form of appreciation is awakened in me. Two completely different musical components that work so well together, paired with the vocal collaboration of Joel Davis from Ascend The Hill, and Beautiful Eulogy, “Lofty” is hands-down my absolute favorite track on this album. Joel’s voice is so unique and fitting for the part that he has in this song, and is perfect for what he sings: “I don’t know why, but still I try to wrap my mind around You, Your thoughts are higher, Your ways are better, and I’m in awe, so bring me up to where You are.

And as if you needed any more convincing as to how incredible, monumental, and out of this world this album is, here’s more sampling of “Lofty”:

“It’s evident in creation that God is the primary cause / the origin of all scientific laws / everything else is secondary / the very breath that comes from lungs is caused by the fact that God is involved / one must begin with the mind that was given to him to even believe he’s evolved / I’m in awe when I think about quantum mechanics and the rotation of planets / and the exact calculation of the universe is permanently impossible to manage, / how photosynthesis takes place to perfectly convert the vividness of light into chemical energy for the purpose of maintaining and giving life, / intelligent design doesn’t even begin to define His creative craftsmanship, / any attempt to align the mind of mankind to divine is insufficient and inadequate.” 

Other tracks on Excellent include the title track “Excellent” that poetically conveys the meaning of the word; “Don’t Listen To Me” which is a sort of autobiography in its content; the emotionally-driven “I Ain’t Got An Answer” featuring Sho Baraka who shares his insecurity and fear of failure in parenting his son who deals with autism; the anthemic “Raise The Banner”; “Forgive Me For Asking” which explains the boldness of questioning and acknowledging the fact that it’s sometimes not our place to challenge things; “Warm Words”, a message of encouragement; and “Be Present” which Propaganda uses to express his thoughts on just paying attention to things that matter, like your marriage, rather than spending so much time focusing on how your environment is responding to your relationships with people.

Overall: Excellent is excellent. It’s as simple as that. If you’re a fan of hip hop, and you’re looking for something to either add to your collection, or something that will challenge you in a whole heck of a lot of ways, this release is for you. As with all other Humble Beast releases, it’s available for free download on the label’s website, but I encourage you to purchase it via iTunes. Neither you, nor your wallet, will be disappointed.

RIYL: Braille, Odd Thomas, Beautiful Eulogy, hip hop.

Propaganda - Excellent, 4.7 out of 5 based on 18 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Jessica C

28 Responses to 'Propaganda – Excellent'

  1. Luke Foster says:

    Actually i could legitimately see this as a 5. Excellent rap album. 2012, year of gospel rap?

    • Jessica C says:

      Totally agree. It’s definitely going to be on my Best Of list.

    • ^^ Totaly disagree, lol. I gave it a 3. Its a gud album, but nower near a 5, imo. Also, dont b so quik 2 hand out 5s, Jessica C. Seems like yur esily imprest lately, from wat i can tel, lol. Just an observation.

    • Lucas says:

      First of all Phil, I couldn’t understand your last sentence. Second of all, this album has gotten outstanding reviews from everywhere I’ve looked so far so I don’t think Jessica is being generous.

    • Iaya97 says:

      I don’t think I would give it a 5, either. Probably a 4 (4.5), but not a 5. By all means, it is excellent, and if it is being compared only to the spoken word genre then it could be a 5, but I don’t think it is quite that good.

    • ^^ “Lucas”
      1. Ask me if i care, o thats rite, i dont.
      2. Refer 2 statement #1.

      “Iaya97″,
      Thats prety much wat i was tryin 2 say as wel, xcept 4 the 4.5 part, lol. .

  2. It is a great album!… Sorry I mean Excellent. :P

  3. Lucas says:

    I dislike all things rap/hip hop, but after all I’ve heard about this record I’m gonna have to check it out.

  4. calends says:

    Precious Puritans is without a doubt the best song on the album. I was sort of on the fence about most of the other songs. The music on PP is simply outstanding and the vocals match. I’d give the album a 3.5 out of 5. But then again…I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a Christian rap album I’d give a 5.

  5. sam30 says:

    I think half of the album is really amazing – the second half. The first half isn’t so grabbing for me, though the intro track is really cool in its own way.

  6. Josh Hamm says:

    I’d almost give it a 5 just for the strength of tracks 6 through to 11. The 2nd half of this album is some of the best music of the year, but if I’d be fine if I never listened to “Redefine Cutter” and “Raise the Banner” again.

  7. Jessica C says:

    Thanks for the feedback, guys. As for my “being generous lately”, maybe that’s my flaw as a writer. I look at things from the perspective of potential more than cultural acceptance. Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinion, though I was reviewing this album solely based on its impact and the evidence of incredible quality that it contains. It’s not my fault I’ve been asked to review great releases. ;)

  8. Delyn says:

    Ill have to say, this review is spot on. I give this album a 5 simply because of the poetic genius behind it, matched with the quality of production. And the boldness and raw truth Prop brings on this album has the potential to be unbelievably life changing because I feel he addresses things people need to hear. It has changed my view on so many things and although I’ve listened to it probably over a hundred times already, it still hits hard in my spirit.
    I have to say I ain’t got an answer hit me the hardest. That song has more raw truth than anything I’ve ever heard before. When Sho comes in with the autism thing, it wrecks me every time. “It’s possible he’s a version of me that’s more humble” for him to be so transparent about this is the most amazing thing because its so real.
    Overall the entire album is, dare I say, excellent

  9. Irish Rover says:

    I listen to a fair amount of hip-hop and there is no doubt in my mind this is a 5. It’s been a while since I’ve been so enamored with an album.

  10. Jamos41 says:

    Humble Beast is killin it, what with Beautiful Eulogy’s “Satellite Kite” and now this. Honestly, these 2 albums have just blown my mind. There’s just somethin about the more organic music that connects with me because it’s so different from 99% of the rest of hip-hop. Propaganda tackles issues that I’ve never even heard other Christian rappers address, and in such a uniquely creative and poignant way.

    Rating this album lower than a 5 would be absurd and….. un-excellent.

  11. Steven Cosand says:

    Same here. I probably listen to more secular rap and hip hop then I do metal/hardcore. This album is flawless.

  12. tommy says:

    I encourage everyone to give it a try. I’m trying not to over hype it but it is good.

  13. Ian says:

    Hi, to the person who criticized Jessica for doling out too many 5s I say this: look through the albums she has reviewed, she only chooses amazing music to talk about. Propaganda made a 5.5 here, and in my head it is a front runner for album of the year, and I LOVE metal/hardcore, folk, ect.

    Yer just hatin cuz Jessica has amazing taste in music

  14. earthseedz says:

    I’d give this a 4 or 4.5, but not 5. Beautiful Eulogy’s “Satellite Kite” was flawless, and a 5 and their presence on this CD, is incredible. Humble Beast is building an impressive talent roster!

  15. jason says:

    I Ain’t Got an Answer is the best song on this album. Just insanely relevant culturally. There’s a couple songs that I don’t care for but it’s fantastic overall.

  16. jesuguru says:

    “Excellent” album, 4.5/5. Agreed with others, half the songs are beyond stellar, the other half good but not great. Would almost deserve a 5, but it’s just slightly behind Beautiful Eulogy’s epic, 5/5 “Satellite Kite”. Humble Beast is setting the standard nowadays.

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