Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Solus Christus In Retrospect

As requested, I just added the lyrics from my first cd, The Solus Christus Project (released in 2005) It's been interesting to notice how the passage of time has split my listeners into two camps: 1) Those who heard TSCP first and 2) those who heard The Atonement first. Interestingly, based on the feedback I've received, most people like the cd they heard first more than the other one. I guess that makes sense. You can never replace the feeling you get when something (or someone) strikes you for the first time. Also, the two projects have completely different feels, so I can understand being drawn more to one or the other. Sometimes, in order to understand a work, it's important to know the artist's intent. That may not necessarily mean that you will enjoy the work more, but it will at least give you some insight into the artistic choices that were made.

For many, TSCP was the first introduction to my ministry. At that point, I had done a few features and a song here and there on compilations. Lampmode was still new to alot of people. My dear brother timothy brindle had released The Great Awakening and we had also put out the Grassroots EP. I had some specific goals with TSCP.

1. I wanted to affirm and rejoice in the essential truths of the Christian faith, while continuing to establish and run in a unique lane for Christian Hip-hop at the time. What I mean by that is the combination of complex lyricism, explicit doctrinal teaching and production that had a jazzy, raw, underground feel reminiscent of my favorite era of hip-hop, the mid-nineties. I wanted to continue what dj essence, tim and I had begun with TGA.

2. I wanted to introduce people to the idea of lyrical theology. When I use that term, I'm speaking about lyrics that are either expositional or didactic (serving a teaching function) in nature. The goal of lyrical theology is to glorify God by communicating the truth of Scripture in a song, primarily for the building up of God's people. This is what we see happening in the Psalms. I did not (and do not) want to waste the potential that rap has as a medium to communicate large amounts of information in a relatively short amount of space. It's not that others hadn't already been doing that, but I wanted people to be able to easily identify it when they heard it, as well as distinguish it from other kinds of lyrics.

3. I wanted to glorify the Lord by expressing a wide range of emotions- joy (Solus Christus), intimacy in worship (My Portion), anguish over sin (Dark Night of the Soul), deep reflection (Heart First), etc. The album is intentionally broad in that sense. I didn't want to do a whole cd full of one type of song my first time around.

4. I wanted to expose our audience to the great truths of reformed theology- particularly what the Bible teaches about God's role and man's role in salvation.

Some have commented that TSCP is a more "fun" album and I agree. There are definitely "brighter colors" on TSCP than The Atonement. Part of this has to do with where I was in my walk at the time. Some of TSCP was written when I was still a relatively new believer, basking in the new found joy of my salvation. I think I was more care-free back then, in the sense that I hadn't walked with the Lord long enough to experience deep heart break, severe trials, and extreme brokenness over my sin- all of which transpired in profound ways between TSCP and The Atonement. The Cross became increasingly glorious to me as the Lord showed me more of His Holiness and my filthiness in light of His perfections. And I wanted more people to see these truths without being distracted by the production style or vocal delivery- which is why The Atonement has a darker, more sober sound to it musically and vocally.

The new album, Storiez, is a combination of the two cds, imo. If I had to say, I think it sounds closer to TSCP than The Atonement. It definitely has brighter colors and is probably more emotional than both of the former projects. The idea for Storiez came from the response to Angelz on TSCP. I got more comments from that song than any other. To this day, people still ask me about that song. Ironically, Angelz is probably the heaviest song doctrinally on TSCP. Yet it was received well, I think, because of the digestibility of the format- narrative. So I thought, "Why not do a whole cd of nothing but narratives?" 3 years later, voila! Storiez (spelled with a "z" to pay homage to the song that sparked the idea)

Ok. I've gone on long enough. Two blogs in one week? What in the world is going on?

grace and peace,



Matthew Robertson said...

Hey brother Shai, it was a pleasure meeting you in DC when I was there with miguel working on videos for reach. I can't wait for the new album, i'm sure it will be a blessing to me and all who listen to it. I love your emphasis on lyricism in a time where even christian hip hop seems to disregard true, doctrinally solid lyricism. Stay blessed.

Your Brother in Christ

-Matthew Robertson

Purple Soapbox Admin said...

Hmm....sounds like some good stuff. I totally love that Angelz song. Its actually one of the most inventive I've heard in my entire life. I will definately do my best to pick up a copy of Storiez when it comes out...I cant wait!

Eva said...

Not to enslave you to the blog, bro, but I'm almost high off two blogs in one week. I know not what to do! Thanks for the treat!

(Oh, and don't check the counter on this blog, which would reveal how often folks check up on your updates ... pride would become a sudden temptation if you do!)


andrew travis pantazi said...

I impatiently anticipate your next album. Thank you for your continual service in a ministry to others, the Lord has used your ministry to bless and move me in many ways.

david r. said...


brother, thank u for running in your lane. lampmode is a blessing!

can't wait to peep storiez!

til we "chat" again....


p.s. oh yeah, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! LOL!

msshaylaj said...

...i tend to agree. though my fav at the moment is 'TSCP', i truly appreciate the depth that 'The Atonement' has along with the more dramatic/cinematic feel.
it's funny you mention 'digestibility'. Angelz is certainly that. i assumed it was because of it's mellow sound and slow tempo. or just me being in the over 30 crowd...loosing my ability to decipher lyrics in more heavy, hip fast tracks. :-)

i never knew so many folks listen to "Jesus" music and haven't accepted Him or the message being i understand the matter of it getting lost in the noise.

well,...the theme for me lately has been the title to one of your older singles--"Slow Down".

thanks for breakin it down. :-)

Myiesha Gordon said...

WOOHOO! He's back!

shai said...

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to leave your comments. I'm encouraged (and a little surprised) to see that some people are still paying attention to this blog. It gives me incentive to write more.

grace and peace,

Ash said...

Hey Shai!

The writing is a big blessing man. Remember that some of the people who love the music you guys bring out aren't in the USA, so it's amazing to hear your perspectives and experiences as we'll likely never see a live concert or meet up in person. Reading about how you dudes met up with Paul Washer was crazy because I love what God is doing through him and I grow a lot through solid HHH - never thought the two would hook up! I've found narrative and poetry to be a most effective communication mechanism - from way back to OT Hebrew poetry (Isaiah is brilliant in my opinion) to the parables of Christ... and it continues with Storiez!

Peace brethren

doxa said...

Thanks for the update shai. I Heard around in the Master's bubble that were going to be performing in inglewood in oct? --Carl Hardgrove is a great brother and an even better preacher.

P.S Pastor Jorge just stared a blog

Shane Sowden said...

Hey Shai,

I came across your music about 2 months ago when a friend introduced me to the 116 Clique. I first purchased The Atonement and then TSCP. I love both! They are really challenging me. Great beats mixed with solid biblical theology. Looking forward to the next album. Can't wait.

Hopefully sometime you will be playing somewhere north of the border!!!