Album Review :
Stephen The Levite - The Forerunner EP
Artist: Stephen The Levite
Title: The Forerunner EP
Label: Lamp Mode Recordings
Release Date: 10/19/2010
1. The Appetizer
2. Slept In?
3. Shrink Me ft. Dot
4. Friction ft. Mark Arthur, Anon, & Zae Da Blacksmith
5. John The Baptist
6. Membership (John The Boom-Baptist Remix)
Darrell Bell aka Stephen The Levite has been around in the christian rap/hip-hop industry for quite awhile now. He was first in the christian hip-hop group Redeemed Thought. It started with 8 members and ended with 2 before they disbanded in 2007. Darrell was one of the last remaining members and the other was Gabriel aka muzeOne. Since Darrell’s debut album “…to die is gain” from 2006, he’s been relatively quiet. He’s guested on other hip-hop albums here and there but that’s been about it. He caused a lot of controversy because of some content on his debut album from calling out false teachers and doctrine to exercising the right to judge the believer. There’s also been some controversy in the fact that he found a love in christian hardcore, metalcore, and death metal bands. Almost every monday he posts a blog called metal monday in which he features a new metal song from a different band. So flashforward 4 years later and we have the latest offering “The Forerunner EP”. It’s titled as such because his 2nd full length is due to come out shortly after, though no word yet on an exactly date.
– Things kick off with the song “The Appetizer” and it’s pure underground East Coast hip-hop. No choruses or hooks, just straight rappin for 4 and 1/2 minutes just like a lot of hip-hop was in the late 80s. No over-produced commercial stuff and no drum machine here either. It’s fresh to hear live drums on this track as well as throughout the entire album. The song is a refreshing account of what Christ did for us on the cross and what’s going to happen when he comes back.
– “Slept In?” comes in next and no hooks here either. More rappin, this time it’s about the rapture. The song has a nice story about how he wakes up and he finds his kids missing and later his wife too. It has some cool keys that makes the song sound fresh and never boring. This is the shortest track on the ep but easily one of my favorites.
– Things take a step back with “Shrink Me”. Darrell is not actually on this track but a female who goes by the name of Dot. The song itself has a slowed down house beat that’s real chill sounding which was great. The problem is the execution of the song from Dot. She doesn’t really rap but it’s more closer to spoken word. It fails mainly because almost everything rhymes with me. I would have preferred the track as an instrumental but as it stands it just seems like a filler.
– We have three guest rappers on “Friction” courtesy of Mark Arthur, Anon, & Zae Da Blacksmith. Darrell leads followed by the others as each gives a different take on a particular friction the christian will endure. At the end of the song it reminds us that when Christ comes back the friction of this world will be over with. This is the first song on the ep that features any hooks and they happen between each of the rappers verses.
– “John The Baptist” is titled so because it’s about John the Baptist of course. I can’t recall any songs written about this story but Darrell lays down some amazing verses to re-tell the story of this prophet. The beats equally compliment the keys and synths on this track as well. This track is the first to feature a chorus with the hook.
– And there wouldn’t be a Stephen The Levite album without a song to once again stir some possible controversy. “Membership (John The Boom-Baptist Remix)” is about church membership and how if you’re a christian and not part of a church body then you probably not saved. He’s not saying that you are definitely not saved but that you are PROBABLY not saved. You can read all the lyrics to the song here for yourself. I don’t have a church body that I’m currently a part of. Does that make me not-saved? No it doesn’t. There are a lot of people that go to church every week that aren’t saved but that’s a whole other story as well. But being part of a church is definitely important because as Darrell says in the song
If not the elect, who’s inspecting your fruit?/ Just a select group of heads from your crew? (that’s not a test dude!)// It’s more like a bad science experiment/ with no control groups in the lab and bias experiences/ It’s foolish to laugh denyin’ it’s serious/ when the only proof that you have is kinda mysterious//
Darrell isn’t afraid to turn some heads and I applaud his honesty in his song writing. Most christians are afraid to tackle subjects like this and he makes you put your thinking cap on and ponder the seriousness of it. The remix of this song done by Deejay Sincereone turns this track into a sweet rocker.
Overall: I really enjoyed this album. It’s five hits and one miss. DJ Official produced some excellent beats, keys, synths, and scratches throughout minus “Shrink Me” and “Membership”. Deejay Sincereone did an amazing job remixing “Membership”. Justword produced the chill “Shrink Me” which fell completely flat due to the lyrics. This is underground east coast hip-hop at its finest. You don’t hear much like this anymore as most hip-hop has been following a more commercialized pattern. This ep more then gave me an appetite for the up-coming full length. The appetizer that it is has my mouth watering for the full course meal. It seems like I’m going to have to wait a little while so I’m going to be hungry.