Joe Thorn:

Propaganda is one of the hip hop artists on the Humble Beast label. You may have seen his spoken word piece, G.O.S.P.E.L. You may have heard his earlier album, or even seen him perform live. But you probably haven’t heard his newest album yet. Excellent is dropping on September 25th, and I’ll be honest-some of you aren’t ready for it. It’s too different, too much—too hard. And I don’t mean hard like it will blow your hair back. I mean this album is hard in its content, confrontation, and cause. It’s an album that will stir you and challenge you. If you try to just kick back and easily enjoy it you just might find yourself unprepared to wrestle with Propaganda’s grave, yet gracious words.

You have to listen to Excellent like you’re supposed to listen to a person, not like one might mindlessly listen to your average pop album. You need to listen to this album to understand, not just enjoy. If you do the former, you’ll get the latter.

So, what does it sound like? I’m smiling while I try to think of the words to use… I’m listening to it for the sixth time as I write this. This is not just a different kind of hip hop album, it is elevated. It is excellent. The beats and music are the work of Beautiful Eulogy who handled all the production and delivered a completely original (and I mean that in every way, no sampling) urban, bluesy, acoustic, electronic sound. As I was saying above, the lyrics are strong, but strong lyrics with weak lyricism equals an impotent album. Thankfully Prop’ is genuinely gifted. His rap is powerful and persuasive, and his delivery is varied throughout every track. This album is never static, but it is consistent-consistently creative, fun, surprising, and passionate.

Excellent is proving to be one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time.

Like all of the Humble Beast releases you will be able to download the entire album for free on September 25th. But, if you can you should pre-order/purchase it through iTunes or Amazon.com ($9.99) to support the artist and label.

Go to Joe’s site to stream a song for free.

I listened to some of the pre-album release yesterday. For one of the songs in particular—you can listen for yourself to figure out which song it might be—I began constructing a counter-argument in my head for why Propaganda is wrong. I did the same thing when I saw him give a live performance of another song. The details of that are less important than the fact that this is an album that makes arguments. These arguments might be right or they might be wrong; they might be prophetic or might be overstatements. But they are arguments that make you think and make you uncomfortable and invite you to talk back. I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have that experience when listening to other types of music.

So consider giving this a listen. You’ll find a brother who doesn’t want to quarrel, but does want to argue. And he might just win you over.

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10 thoughts on “An Album You Can Argue With”

  1. Andrew says:

    I have the experience of talking back arguing back to most music that presents something non-biblical or anti-biblical whether it’s secular or pseudo-christian. I prefer to listen to instrumental music now so I can just enjoy. I peronally don’t want to have an argument while listening to music. You’ve got to have a break some time you know?

  2. Matt Brown says:

    So excited for this! Beautiful Eulogy’s self-titled album was amazing in every way. Humble Beast has a host of talented artists.

  3. Chris says:

    I never quite understand the fascination of taking overtly secular and pagan music and putting a Christian message to it. Can’t we do better than that? And by music, I don’t mean the actual composition of notes strung together, melody, chord structure or even the beat and rhythm of a song. By music I mean, the sound. How does it come across? What does it sound like? Is it distinct or does it mimic the secular/pagan cultures music?

    As with “Christian Rock”, I believe Christian Rap and Hip Hop is clearly secular and pagan music with a Christian message. What happened to “come out and be separate”, “be not conformed to this world”? Doesn’t the Christian message of non-conformity to the world apply to the worlds music as well?

    Christian Rock and Christian Rap are no different in my eyes…or should I say ears, than making and distributing an X-rated film of a Christian couple making love and discussing the symbolism of the husband and wife marriage and relationship with that of Christ and His bride. The message may be right on, but the means for getting it out is not.

    Instead of following the cultural trends of music, shouldn’t Christians be developing music that is distinct from the world and musically great at the same time? Now that would be ground breaking!

    And lest you think I am so old fundamentalist fogie, I am not.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      To be fair, I don’t regard you as an “old fundamentalist fogie,” but I do think that your comment is misguided. Forgive me if I’m coming off condescending, I just think it’s a fallacy to say:

      1) Pagans commit X action.
      2) Christians shouldn’t do what pagans do.
      Therefore, Christians should not commit X action.

      You’re saying:

      1) Pagans produce and listen to rap music and rock music.
      2) Christians shouldn’t do what pagans do.
      Therefore, Christians shouldn’t produce or listen to rap music and rock music.

      I’m not trying to beat the point over the head, I just think that applying this to a host of other things pagans do (listen to music, breathe air, etc.) does not necessitate that we shouldn’t do them.

      Furthermore, Paul says that he has “become all things to all men so that by all means I may save some” (1 Cor. 9:22b). You’ve no grounds for deeming rap music or rock music a wrong means for the proclamation of the gospel; I can recall countless stories of God speaking to people in the most profound ways through songs such as Propaganda’s (e.g. Lecrae, Trip Lee, etc.).

      I apologize for such a lengthy response, I just hate to see the perpetuation of the cheesy Christian subculture (not meaning to say that’s what you’re pushing for) and have Christians think that we shouldn’t pervade the surrounding culture. We must reach the lost through “all means” as Paul says, and not by forming our own Christian bubble within the sea of culture.

    2. Sean says:

      Chris,

      It sounds that you are essentially saying that any form that has been used by non-Christians in the past (rap, rock, opera, country) cannot be redeemed and used by Christians. Your logic would seem to negate Christians from using any forms of entertainment or communication. Do you really believe that these forms/modes of communication have been so tarnished that they are beyond repair or use?

      I suppose Christians have to invent their own systems of sound, since the guitars, pianos, drums, and so on have all been corrupted by pagans. If you see this as an exaggeration of your logic, please provide some alternatives at what would be “distinct from the world and musically great” at the same time? Because this is exactly what Prop, Lecrae, shai linne, etc. are going right now.

    3. Justin Taylor says:

      Chris,

      Why not apply this paradigm to the Christian use of technology as well?

  4. carl peterson says:

    I like putting Chrisitan meanings on “secular music” Whatever secular music is? I think of Luther putting the hymns to old German bar songs. It is fine. What is scriptural music anyways? It is not rock, Jazz, or Blues. It is not even opera or classical. Not even the style of chants (monks). I guess we would haveto research ancient Hebrew music to sort of know. But then again I think it is not really a problem.

  5. Trevor Minyard says:

    That awkward moment when Prop calls out the Puritan’s hypocrisy in an album TGC reviewed….

    1. Matt Brown says:

      1) Reviewal of an album doesn’t necessitate approval.
      2) Justin says “One of the songs in particular–you can listen for yourself to figure out which song it might be” makes arguments, presumably “Precious Puritans”. He applauds the album for its ability to really make one think.
      3) Propaganda is a sick lyricist and rapper!

      1. Trevor Minyard says:

        …the irony remains.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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