In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nineteen, some would clearly say that this area of hip hop is the area of trap, whle others would say that lyricism and boom bap are coming back into style. We’ve seen the return of boom bap hip hop in 2018 with a mainstream hip hop act with major label backing, so why wouldn’t we see that same style of music on the Christian hip hop side of things? Answer: We have and Elohin’s ‘Boom Bap Soul’ project is just what we’ve been looking for.
On “Boom Bap Intro” Elohin comes in on a dope boom Bap instrumental with joyful sounding horns and DJ cuts. He chronicles the journey of hip hop from boom Bap to trap and auto tune. He then goes into what he’s hear to do which is present the Gospel through boom Bap Hip Hop. It’s a nice intro to this project. Then “On My Knees” prod. By Tone Jonez takes us way back to the days of wooden pews and thick hymnals with this soulful sounding sample. This song has the sample of “Down On My Knees” that continues as the song goes on, it’s just sample drums and some chords, very simple yet soulful. Elohin talks about the need for prayer in this fallen world and he paints a vivid picture about how prayer covers us, this is a really somber song. Then he takes us to “No Way(Freestyle)” produced by I.Q. which finds Elohin skating on another soulful track, as he looks back over his life. Elohin knows that there is no way he would be where where he is now without God. From having the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck at birth to were he is now, he knows God was with him all the way. Elohin has a great music video to accompany this song, so check that out when you get the chance
We turn a corner on the project with “It’s OK” produced by Dreamlife Beats, and this is easily one of my favorite songs from this project. While it is free of a vocal sample, the somber piano chords do wonders for this song. It sounds like something you can ride to with the windows down. One of Elohin’s hardest lines is, “you can’t adjust like a soldier tryna be civilian.” Elohin is going to show the world how to move cuz he won’t follow their rules and “It’s OK.” He starts the second verse off by stating how some artists boast about being independent, but they are only independent because a label has no interest in them. Slow down Elohin, you didn’t have to call out artists like that! Elohin wants people to be real in whatever situation they find themselves in, because as long as God has them, they’ll be OK. Next on the project is “Snakes” produced by Enrichment and it starts with a Tupac interview and Elohin just comes in spitting about those in people’s lives acting like they love you but they are really snakes. Elohin talks about the biggest snake of all, Satan, as well as the corrupt government system of America. Instead of a chorus we have a Nas sample talking about snakes. This is a short but powerful song that needs at least two to three listens to really digest everything said on this track.
“Road Blocks” produced by Dreamlife Beats finds Elohin doing some storytelling about his life as he reminisces on the trouble he got in as a youth and even as a young adult. He asked poignant questions like how can a cop pull him over for speeding without breaking the same rules he was enforcing? After that encounter with the police Elohin runs into a man from his past. They joke about times long gone and see how each other are doing. Elohin’s friend is really going through it with child support and having a record and on probation. Elohin encourages his friend to stay on the right path and do his best to stay on that path. On “Mad At Me” there is a seamless transition from “Roadbloacks” to “Mad At Me.” I Love the chorus on this song. Don’t tell someone they have what they want because that will make them want it more and will have you mad when they actually achieve what they set out to do. This song speaks to people being mad at you when you defy their expectations and refuse to stay in whatever box they placed you in in their mind. Elohin did his thing on this song.
Every song so far on the project has had a weighty message over boom baptastic beats until we get to “New Era(freestyle)” produced by G. Blaze. This track finds Elohin just spitting bars. This is an ode to the old no concept just bar your face away songs of yesteryear. Back in the day rappers had at least one of these on their project to let you know they weren’t bound to song structure and concept songs, Elohin kept this tradition up with this freestyle. The next song on the project is “Rap 2 You” produced by the Synthesis and starts with Elohin talking about folks say he’s a good singer but the fact is he ain’t singing he’s rapping, In fact let him rap to you. This song has the chopped and looped vocal sample that’s associated with boom Bap of old and it sounds so vibrant and fresh in 2019. ” I rap hard you hardly rap” was one of my favorite one liners for this track. The song “Good Times(It’s Alright 2)” produced by TCustomz has that feel good vibe to it, sounds like something from the seventies or eighties with boom bap drums. Elohin speaks of family dinners and gatherings that used to be common place in the African American household, back when family meant a lot more to people. Elohin speaks of lives lost but he would rather have positive memories like Easter and Christmas. The hook makes it plain, Elohin just wants to have a good time and enjoy life. This sounds like it could be playing in the background of any family function.
One of the most creative songs on the project is “I Am Hip Hop” produced by Tone Jonez. Elohin says that he is Hip Hop by using the analogies of different Hip Hop albums and artists. Instances like, “I am Hip Hop like when T.I. Started Grand Hustle,” speaks to how Elohin has the same entrepreneurial spirit as T.I who started his own label. Elohin uses well known and not so familiar artists to state that he too embodies Hip Hop. What I like most about this track is that he uses examples of both Christian and non Christian Hip Hop artists. I found this really appealing because I believe as Christian creatives we either give secular artists too much praise and influence over our work or we just stay in the Christian bubble and act like nothing done by non Christian artists is good at all. Elohin walked that line well citing acts like Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and Biggie while also name dropping Bizzle, Jackie Hill Perry, and T-Bone among others. Very well done and creatively executed song. On “Not Your Average” produced by the Passion HiFi, we have that feel good throw back feeling we’ve been enjoying throughout the project and it gives Elohin the space to stretch out and just flex lyrically that he is not the average rapper and he isn’t typical. My fave bar from this is, “people still believing in knowledge of self/ but you just a human so that knowledge won’t help.” A great jab at a philosophy that was very popular in the 90s and is still prevalent today.
Finally, what would a boom bap soul project be without a posse or cypher track on it? The final track of this mixtape is the “Boom Bap Cypher” produced by TCustomz features Elohin and some of his friends. He calls their names out before the rapping starts but I wish each rapper would have identified themselves before their verse started. Elohin’s voice is recognizable to his fans’ ears at this point in the project but the guests’ voices are probably not as recognized. Other than that this track has what you would expect: a dope vocal sample, dope drums, and a whole lot of bars. I’ve always loved cypher tracks and believe it should be a tradition that is upheld in present day Hip Hop and beyond. There is a surprise after the track fades but you’ll have to listen to the project to find out what it is.
All in all, Elohin did a superb job on this project. You can tell Boom Bap is what he loves and he’s using that love to tell about the True Love that he has for God. The project is a little lengthy but there is a retail version that is more trimmed down, for those who want to support with their money. I’m very much interested to see what Elohin does next as this is the second project of his that I’ve reviewed. His beat selection is second to none and he has the lyricism and skill set that wont let him be overtaken by the music. If you want to cleanse the palate of your ears from the current climate of music, do yourself a favor and soak your ears with some ‘Boom Bap Soul.’