An initial listen through Group 1 Crews debut disc indicates an obvious appreciation for tobyMac, Out of Eden and Souljahz, though the trio still throws in several unexpected curve balls. Main emcees Manwell, Pablo and Blanca unite for a series of soulful harmonies placed over funky backbeats and the occasional DJ scratch, creating a robust, spiritually assertive sonic salsa. Love Is a Beautiful Thing may have been released this year, but its instrumentation sounds like old-school Stevie Wonder meets Sly & The Family Stone crossed with Manwell and Pablos confident rhymes and Blancas soothing soul. Come Let It Roll, the band is transported into the modern landscape, evoking the solider struts of Gwen Stefani or Black Eyed Peas, but with an underlying Outkast groove.
Aside from a hot soundtrack, this collection is packed to the brim with relevant messages that simultaneously serve the church and attempt to engage the world. Take, for instance, the dark and brooding soul rocker Cant Go On, which summarizes members reliance on Jesus throughout the crazy confines of the music industry, but also during daily living. The rap slapped Forgive Me (think Coolio but current) is an open-hearted approach at reconciliation, running the thematic gamut of calling upon the Lord with a repentant heart to self-acceptance (despite even the most disastrous pre-conversion choices). Yet, the discs ultimate anthem is the throw down I Have a Dream, which reminds all to
follow their God-given paths no matter what roadblocks may pop up along the way.
ANDY ARGYRAKIS- CCMMagazine.com