These are some tumultuous times we are living in. Many in the Christian faith feel as though they are at a crossroads when it comes to the principles of the faith and speaking on social issues. At times it can feel like the Christian is bound in America, chained to perception and unwritten rules. It’s at this time that Kevin Burgess better known as KB dropped on the culture an album that is most needed, namely, ‘Today We Rebel.’
This entire album could probably be summed up in one word: freedom. KB on this album redefines what it means to rebel in this counter Christ culture we find ourselves in. KB says, “the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” With that, we dive into the first track on the album “DNOU (Don’t Nobody Own Us).” The producer Mykallife made this beat and it is the perfect way to start off the album. For a more in-depth breakdown of the song go here. Next up is “Tempo”, which when released it at the top of the year, gave us a sample of an album that we didn’t know was coming. This song was produced by COBRA, D-Hood, Deon On the track, and lastly Juice Bangers. This song ironically did set the tempo for KB as he toured off this one song for quite a while, and the rest of the project follows the template of this song. The song has a chopped and screwed sample of what sounds like an old hymn at the beginning and the end of the song, serving as a bookend of sorts. The song has some serious bass, and just a real epic sound to it, and KB speaks of how he hit his tempo. Like a runner settling into his rhythm, KB has found his groove and is going to run in it until the wheels fall off. Third song on the album is “Monster” featuring recent Reach Records signee Aha Gazelle and boasts production from both Cardec and Halo Hitz. It’s KB’s testimony track on the album, and he creatively boasts of where the Lord has brought him from. My favorite lines from this song are “I was the Oreo growing up/ told ‘em at least Imma get my degree and be back on the scene and my cream will be double stuffed.” He then goes on to say, “Or we can just knuckle up/ started boxing to toughen up/ then I met Jesus and seen the strong don’t survive, they will sacrifice all for the other one.”
KB slows down the tempo on the COBRA produced “Prime Time” featuring Ty Brasel, where both emcees speak on the fact that the perfect time to get things done is right now and that losses can be turned into lessons. We have another song produced by COBRA titled “Get Through” featuring the Reach Records front man himself, Lecrae. What’s interesting about this song to me is that it sounds quite different from other songs we’ve heard these two team up on (see “Used to Do It Too, “Church Clap”, “Fuego” etc..). This song almost sounds like it could have been an R&B record, but alas KB and Lecrae murder this beat speaking on struggling to make it through this life. I love the lines, “Told Chris if you love her tuck her (Tucker) cuz she’ll be at the crib watching ‘Rush Hour.’” That was some clever wordplay with the Chris Tucker/Rush Hour scheme. This next song is one of my favorites and may be one of the most powerful songs on the entire project. The song “Art of Drifting” was produced by Cardec and Supe, and has KB narrating a haunting story of a character that has fallen out of love with God and the Church. The backstory of this song is quite interesting, as it was inspired by a dream KB had. This song shows how easy it is to drift away from God and drown in your sin. KB starts off the song “You don’t love the church no more” and it just goes on from there. Lines like “Nobody wakes up addicted/every great fall’s from a hundred bad decisions/ legacy passed you just no looked it/ lost in the sauce didn’t know you slow cookin’” just really resonate with me. There are so many more quotable lines on this song that it will be in constant rotation. This was an amazingly produced and executed song and it transitions to the next song on the project flawlessly.
The transition from “Art of Drifting” to “Art of Hope” was so smooth that I didn’t realize it was a completely different song at first. This track was produced by Cardec and Joseph Prielozny and boasts a sample from Hillsong United. After drifting from God in the previous song we find KB lamenting to the Lord, “Can we pick up where we left off.” The singing from the Hillsong sample perfectly complements the track and brings the listener hope that we have a God who hears the sincere pleas of those who wish to re-enter covenant with Him. This song may just make you praise the Lord wherever you are, He surely is worthy of it. Now that we’ve had our praise party, KB ramps us up with the anthem “Not Today Satan” featuring Andy Mineo. The production was handled by Cardec and COBRA and has that triumphant sound to it, add in what sounds like a church mother rebuking the Devil, and you have something quite special. Andy and KB trade bars speaking about how little power Satan has against them even though it seems like he’s everywhere in our society today.
The next couple of songs “I Am Not The One” and “New Portrait” are two very powerful songs. The song “I Am Not The One” was produced by Cardec and COBRA and just really nails that big epic sound we’ve heard on the album thus far. KB just speaks about he is not the one to focus on but rather Jesus is. This song is also full of quotable lines as KB speaks on not letting the haters get a rise out of him. Instead of crediting it to will power KB states, “It ain’t thick skin it’s a new heart.” KB is flowing on this track and my favorite part is near the end when what sounds like a choir says “He is” repeatedly after KB says he himself is not the one. Joseph Prielozny played the guitar and it just sounds amazing. This is probably my second favorite song on the album. The next song, “New Portrait,” is actually sort of an homage track to an old Da’ T.R.U.T.H. song. The song “The Portrait” can be found on ‘The Faith’ which was released in 2005. KB even used the same opening line and some other lines verbatim, but this is not stealing as Da’ T.R.U.T.H. is given a writing credit on the album. On this song KB seeks to paint a more accurate picture of just who Jesus Christ is, which is in direct opposition of the Christ of America. KB has some lines here which are sure to ruffle feathers and confirm what many followers of Christ already know. Such as, “Christ of the culture, Christ of the vultures/ committed genocide with a cross and a holster” as well as “Christ of America, Christ of the System/ that is not my Savior, that’s a politician.” This song is a must listen for everyone who lives in America and calls themselves a Christian.
As we round the corner to the last few songs on the album, we come across “Bring you War” featuring For King And Country, produced by Scootie. Joseph Prielozny is credited with assisting with additional production. This song feels like the obligatory CCM record that we find on many Christian Hip Hop albums. I understand that Reach has collaborated with For King And Country a few times as well as gone on the road with them, but I believe the album could have gone without this song. However, “Sing To You” featuring Casey J is very necessary on this project. I love the fact that Reach has been including more Gospel music in their songs, as almost a returning to one’s roots. COBRA produced this song and it jams as well as has live horns and bass. KB and Casey J just straight out declare that they will continue to sing to the Lord in both good times as well as the bad. Next we enter into “Rebel Intro” produced by COBRA and Cardec and featuring Sarah Reeves. If some of this song feels familiar to you it should because it echoes Lecrae’s “Battle Song” from the ‘Rehab: Overdose’ album. Instead of Natalie Sims singing, “Tell ‘em bring the guns out, set my city up in flames” its Sarah Reeves who croons it in such a tender way. This song is so mellow but ominous, letting you know that something is coming. What’s coming? Why it’s “Rebel Rebel” produced by Cardec, and it is without a doubt my absolute favorite song on the project (the album has been out a little over a week and I’ve listened to it over thirty times). This song is KB’s thesis to his declaration of rebellion saying he’s been a rebel sin ’88 (his birth year); this is his flag he’s planted on a hill. This song is once again full of word play and quotable lines. KB said, “This is what I live for, this the hill I’m buried on/ If Jesus is the Truth, then one of us is very wrong.” He then went on to say “I am merely a sinner, I’m just really forgiven/ respect our existence, respect our existence/ or expect our resistance!” Note how KB transposed the “r” from respect and the “e” from existence. He went from “respect our existence” to “expect our resistance,” which to me was really clever. Well done KB well done.
In Conclusion, ‘Today We Rebel’ is undoubtedly KB’s best project to date. While it is far too early to call in a classic, I believe that it is one of the best albums to come out this year. KB executed his theme of rebellion and freedom almost flawlessly. As stated earlier I believe “Bring You War” could have been left off the album. KB paid homage to past CHH records, incorporated CM, and further developed his sound on this record. I don’t think anything in CHH really sounds quite like this. KB has matured quite a bit and grown by leaps and bounds and continues to push his limits and boundaries. All of this is possible when you have a team behind him like he has. Natalie Sims has about three writing credits on the album and both she and Joseph Prielozny were A&R on this album. This is a must listen for anyone wanting excellent music and a solid Gospel saturated message. There is hope in the future but also in the present, because ‘Today We Rebel.’
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