During this pandemic artists have been cooking up some amazing music. A lot of creatives have been utilizing this time to look inward and create new content; content they wouldn’t have had time to create before COVID-19 took over 2020. While it seems some are waiting for a return to normal, some have accepted that we may be living in a new normal. Christian Hip Hop artist C H O Y C E takes it one step further. He agrees that we live in a new normal and the world has reset, but he believes now is the time to restart. To drive this point home, he’s crafted the ‘Restart EP’ and gave Trackstarz an exclusive copy of the project to review.
The first song of the project is “I Need Jesus” and The beat starts out with some knocking drums and flute sounds. C H O Y C E comes in on this beat with auto tune tinged vocals thanking the Lord for doing everything he can’t do. I like the hook, it’s very catchy, and the “Know that I need Him” is reminiscent of Erica Campbell’s “I Luh God.” The second verse is an extension of the first as C H O Y C E continues to thank the Lord for all He’s done for him. I like the bridge, the beat shifts and C H O Y C E pays homage to the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour” and sings a portion of it. The song ends with the hook and this testimonial song is a great way to start the project. The second song is “Faith Move” and the first thing we hear are some violin strings, building up as if to warn the listener something monumental is about to happen. The drums come in and C H O Y C E hits us with another catchy hook from the jump. I wondered if he would rap in his regular voice or with the tinged vocals again. He switched up by rapping in his normal voice on the first verse and then rapped with the saucy vocals on the second. I like how he started the second verse, “I put my faith all in and put the haters out/ I was chasing Him while they was chasing clout.” In the space between the verses, C H O Y C E chanted, “Hold on wait a minute, let me put my faith up in it” and it had that Mr. Talkbox vibe. I liked the image he painted, showing his faith by making his faith move. This song reminded me of a Tony Evans quote, “Faith is measured by how you move your feet.” This was another great song. Two catchy songs back to back have me settling in to enjoy the rest of the project.
The third song is “All Love” and the keys put me in the mind of Annie’s “Hard Knock Life.” C H O Y C E talks to the listener saying he loves everybody and it’s all love with him, and then launches into his verse. I like the lines, “These pretenders with wack agendas/ I ain’t mad, I forgave, but I sure remember!” This song is about forgiving those who’ve hurt you and moving on. Not in the fake sense but truly wishing the best for your enemies and former friends. C H O Y C E drops a few quotable lines throughout this song, and it definitely needs at least two or three spins. Midway through the project we land on “Running.” This song sounds more spacey until the 808s hit. This has the most vibes so far, and C H O Y C E slows down and pours his heart out on the track. He’s been on his knees for a long time but things aren’t changing. He’s lamenting on the first verse about issues he’s been running from, a sentiment I related to. On the second verse C H O Y C E asks the Lord to remove his need to for validation from people. By the end of the verse, he realized that Jesus gave his all and some will still walk away, so if Jesus wasn’t validated by others he was free from that same need. This song was slower than I was used to on this project but it’s a necessary song.
Next we find C H O Y C E “Praying” over another slower tempo instrumental. He encourages the listener that he’s been praying for them and interceding for them(something you don’t hear too often in this genre) and encourages them that they will make it through their tests. C H O Y C E wants to listener to focus on what God has said to them about their situations and encourages them to “Faith it out.” This is another encouraging song and shows that C H O Y C E isn’t only about the turn up. C H O Y C E takes us back up “Spirit Talk,” and the horns give it a triumphant feel. This beat sounds like C H O Y C E has a live band behind him, you can’t help but nod your head and tap your toe as he gives us some Jamaican island vibes. This song has some of the heaviest spiritual content, but it’s juxtaposed with music with a bounce so it doesn’t feel weighty. This is my favorite song of the project, and his second verse though?! C H O Y C E was talking that talk and ended the song strong with a heavy line coupled with the air horns. I really like this song, when the project drops I might have to add this one to my personal playlist.
The next to last song is the aptly named “Soul Food.” This beat sounds as soulful as the song title, and C H O Y C E is just rapping steadily over this beat. He really is speaking to the soul on this song, and you have to love the vocal sample. Whoever was responsible for the production did an excellent job. I could listen to a whole project of “Soul Food” production. You will have this on repeat, you have no choice. The beat is the star of this song and I’m not mad at that all. The final song on the project is “Ready 2 Go.” He starts this song off with a clip of people talking about racism in the church, and C H O Y C E starts off asking how can politicians tell the Bloods and Crips not to bang on each other but then they set trip on each other. C H O Y C E makes the same point a lot of folks are realizing, Democrats and Republicans go hard for their sets and are nothing more than gang bangers in suits. His line, “Democrats and Republicans, but where’s the Christians,” hits you square in the jaw. Many claim Christ but put their political parties over His principles and fail to see the sin in that. C H O Y C E one again hits us with a great hook full of emotion and reiterated that our place on this earth is temporary, and when the Lord tells him he’s done, he’ll be “Ready 2 Go.” He takes it up a notch on this next verse and begins lamenting to the Lord as he asks God why all these things are going on, and you can hear it In his voice that he’s shouting while he’s rapping. This song was a climactic way to end the project.
Let me just go on record and say that this one of the best projects I’ve heard from an indie CHH artist. I don’t know how long C H O Y C E has been making music, but he sounds like a professional, a veteran even. For this project he didn’t follow musical trends at all, instead he had his own style and it sounded great. Christian Hip Hop has long been accused of following whatever is popular instead of innovating and taking creative risks, but C H O Y C E has a style that reminds me of nineties music with the auto tune coupled with the soulful music on other portions of the project. Some artists haven’t really been talking about the spiritual side of this faith walk, but C H O Y C E dives headfirst into these weighty topics and I found it refreshing. C H O Y C E writes some of catchiest hooks I’ve heard, if you struggle with writing hooks, I suggest you reach out to him. While he is his own artist, C H O Y C E seems to be a student of this modern form of rap as all of his songs have two verses and long hooks. However, he is such a good artist and writer, that he puts a lot content in his songs so you don’t leave his music feeling slighted. This was a pleasantly surprising project and I highly recommend that you cop C H O Y C E’s ‘Restart’ EP, slated for release August 14, 2020. If you love good music, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.