It’s not too often that I get to review a project from an independent artist that has charted, but that’s what we are in for today. Today we have Trybe Muzik, a collective made up of at least ten members, and though this is their first project together, the music will prove that they are by no means new to making good music. The group is comprised of singers, rappers, producers, and songwriters. Their debut project, ‘Sophisticated Jungle,’ managed to chart #5 on Amazon Music charts and #21 on iTunes charts under the Christian Music category. Admittedly, I am only familiar with C.H.O.Y.C.E as I reviewed his project last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now that he is part of a collective, I have only the highest expectations for this eight song EP. Does the project measure up to my expectations? Let’s dive into Trybe Muzik’s ‘Sophisticated Jungle.’
The first song on this project is called “Hosanna,” a term used to express adoration or praise, so it’s only fitting that this project starts off with a song bearing this title. CHOYCE starts us off with a dope sung intro and Millionaire hits us with his staccato style rap. He talks about how he’s tripping by allowing the media to paint pictures of what is good. I appreciate the sentiment that the media aren’t even guests in his house but they seem like they are all up in his kitchen. This can speak to the invasive nature of media; by tracking where we spend our money, it’s almost like these companies and corporations are in our homes listening to us. Millionaire skated on the verse and handed it off to CHOYCE for the hook and J Sells of Mahogany Chord gave a straight to the point verse. I appreciate his tone, you have to really listen to catch what he’s saying. CHOYCE came back with a bridge that gave praise to God. Gabriel Oree closed out the song with a verse that felt more like spoken word than rap as the beat emptied out and left space for his words. I liked the Days Inn/ days end bar, I haven’t heard that in a while. Gabriel Oree handled the production on this; this was an amazing introduction to the collective known as Trybe Muzik.
The second song is the Latin infused “Senor De Todo,” which in Spanish means “Lord Of All.” This song finds the Trybe singing praise to the Lord in Spanglish(a blend of English and Spanish) and J.R. Johnson handled the production for this song. As soon as I heard the horns and the Spanish guitar in the first four seconds of the song, I just knew it was going to be a bop and I wasn’t disappointed. Orianna of Mahogany Chord sings the intro of the song and J Sells jumps right into a lightning fast verse. I liked how he rhymed “Aquafina” with “agua fever,” that’s not a rhyme scheme I’ve heard before. I also liked how he ended his verse with the word “rojo,” which is Spanish for the color red. Orianna sings the hook declaring Senor De Todo as Lord of all Creation and the God of our Salvation. Brandon Noir greets the listener with a double time verse of his own that is heavily peppered with Spanish words; the verse sounded like it was 90% Spanish but I still understood what he was saying. I sat up to see if I was catching everything Brandon was saying and I believe I was. CHOYCE closed out the song with a rapid bilingual verse. I liked when he said, “Let me breathe,” and the track literally stopped for a second. After said breathe, CHOYCE closed out his verse and yelled, “Cut the song,” and the song abruptly ended. Trybe Muzik did a lot in those two minutes and forty four seconds, and I loved every second. This is a strong song with crossover appeal.
Song number three on the project is “Let You In.” With the first two songs being high energy tracks, Trybe Muzik slowed it down on this one. CHOYCE produced this song and its star is Orianna Wells of Mahogany Chord. Orianna croons over the R&B ballad that she will let the Lord into her heart. Many claim to give God their lives, but Wells sings about giving more of herself to Him. In her first verse she’s tried to hide her scars from God, but in order to receive healing she realizes she’d going to have to be vulnerable with God. I love the hook and the fact that Gabriel Oree sings background vocals throughout the track. Her second verse speaks to the fact that after she let God into her life she feels safe. she ends by singing, “All I have is yours, you are all I need.” This is a song to throw on repeat, lift your arms, and cry out to the Lord. This is an amazing song.
We arrive at the halfway point of the project and land on the song “Just Like You.” Millionaire comes out the gate hitting us with an emotional verse about being a man that his daughters can look up to. His first line, “My daughters’ complexities get the best of me,” resonated as did his inferred punchline, “I know I should be like __.” We go to the chorus which introduces us to GLDN CHLD, who is singing on the hook alongside Orianna Wells. I love the hook because it speaks to trying to be like God in a way that’s not often communicated. These men want to be fathers like God but they don’t even know what that means because they’ve never seen that example lived out in front of them. D. A. Smalls comes with a laid back yet urgent flow as he speaks on the pressure of trying to be something he’s never seen. His bars, “How could I be good father if Daddy is on the road?/Working and discipline is the two things that I only know,” resonated with me in a real way. He has a son across the state but feels like he is next to him; in the same vein, Smalls realizes that his heavenly Father is closer than He seems. Orianna sings an emotional bridge and GLDN CHLD performed double duty as he rapped the third verse. CHLD brings home the point that it’s hard to be what he’s never seen, but takes solace by researching various fathers in the Bible. By studying them and bringing his cares before the Lord, he can be the father he was created to be. CHOYCE put his foot in this track; the tone along with the guitar licks put me in the mind of a slow hip hop jam from the early 2000s, and I mean that in the best way possible. I believe this song will minister to many and can be influential in helping a fatherless generation be the dads they were designed to be. This may be the best song on the project.
Next is the interestingly named “Bibles, Bugattis, Bands,” and I have no idea what to expect. Barry Washington and CHOYCE co-labored on the production of this song; I liked how it sounded like it was going to sound one way but switched at the thirteen second mark. Brandon Noir and CHOYCE are on the hook and Millionaire gets right into his verse. Millionaire and Brandon Noir’s verses seem to speak to the theme of putting in work “in the field” for the faith. This song is an absolute bop but I’m still confused by the title. Other than the clever alliteration, “Bibles, Bugattis, Bands” title doesn’t fit with the verses. it’s in the hook and the vamp, but I feel like there’s a disconnect between the title and the overall intended message of the song. The hook says, “Bibles, Bugattis, Bands, I hope you understand,” but I don’t. The message of the song and the title don’t mix, I didn’t get it but it still slaps though.
Song number six is the title track “Sophisticated Jungle.” This album title intrigued me and I’m hoping this song will bring clarity. D. A. Smalls starts his verse by saying he wasn’t raised in a jungle but in an environment that was just as inhospitable. A place where preachers preached the Word but were judgmental and running people away from God. Smalls navigates this world or “sophisticated jungle” by running with a pride of lions, his Trybe. I liked the line, “No spades in my hand, so I know the enemy cut/ and God shuffled and dealt me a hand, so I know Imma run it up!” CHOYCE raps the hook saying there’s a lot of lions and tigers in this sophisticated jungle as well as wolves in sheep’s clothing. The world we live in is comparable to a jungle: there are those who wish to feed on the perceived weaknesses of others, but the Trybe is warning the listener to stay on guard and listen to God. J Sells’ verse used the analogy of the world’s system as a virus interfering with his programming. Once the Lord saves us , we are essentially “rebooted” and free to live the lives God designed for us. GLDN CHLD further drives home the point of the jungle’s deception in his verse. The world is dangerous and I appreciate his comparison of living with said animals to living like Mowgli or Tarzan. These two characters were able to traverse the treacherous territory of the jungle and survive. In like manner, we can do the same but only by “holding on to a strong vine.” Gabriel Oree handles the production for this song and he communicated the feeling of an ominous atmosphere and urgency on the track, which provided the perfect canvas for the emcees to paint their lyrics on.
The next to last song is “How You Know” produced by CHOYCE and Rico Gill. We are greeted by a person talking about trying to believe God but facing trying circumstances. GLDN CHLD was on the hook and encouraging the listener to stay in their Word and pray and then things would work out. The hook asks, “How you know that?” It is then answered by, “I’ve seen it.” the hook has a call and response element to it. J. Sells is on the first verse and asks the listener what they would do if God told them that what they were doing is sinful. He then follows with, “Before we approach the subject philosophically/ try angles (triangles), no isosceles.” he drops some more trigonometry themed bars and his verse; this was a solid offering from J Sells. Once again, GLDN CHLD pulled double duty on the second verse and the hook. Out the gate, he hits us with lines, “Are you saying life is perfect, no but it’s worth it/ All you have to do is scratch more than the service. He talks about why he gives God all he has and he gets into an interesting pocket with his ABBA/Papa/Nada scheme on the latter half of his verse. The hook ends the song and reminds us that we don’t have to doubt our faith because God comes through for us.
The last song on the project is “Rebel,” and we are greeted by some keys and an excerpt of someone telling the listener to let their light shine. Orianna sets off the song with a quick intro and J Sells launches right into his verse, Mahogany Chord was in full effect at the very start of the song. “They tell us shut up and pray, naw Imma cut up today!” Is that how you feel J Sells??! That’s how you start off this verse? He ends the verse with, “I’m not saying He black but He ain’t one of them white folks!” J Sells left me flabbergasted; he let it all out on this verse. Orianna sings the chorus belting out that we won’t be silent, but instead we will in fact light up the city. Brandon Noir comes on the second verse with some dope bars. “The truth for sweet tooths, we don’t sugarcoat it,” stood out to me. Millionaire closes out the song with his third verse and he gives us some wordplay with “being left and chose right” for a couple of bars. Millionaire asserts that he’s down to hold his own and represent for the Lord. The song ends with a snippet of a sermon about letting your light shine. This was a powerful way to end the project; to end on an air of rebellion only adds to the theme of ‘Sophisticated Jungle.’
In conclusion, I was very excited to listen to this project. I was only familiar with CHOYCE and I enjoyed his project so much that it made its way into my Top 5 Album Reviews I’ve written since 2017. Now he has a whole squad with him, I was definitely interested, to say the least. Trybe Muzik is a collective that is very talented, that much is obvious; but it’s more than that because they are all equally talented. There is no star outshining the other members of the group. I was introduced to the husband and wife duo known as Mahogany Chord and I loved what they brought to this project. I appreciate the fact that although CHOYCE is the founder of Trybe and has the biggest name in the group, we don’t really hear too much from him on this project. This project seems to serve as a way to showcase CHOYCE’s talented friends and community. The theme of ‘Sophisticated Jungle’ was made apparent even from the album cover. The jungle is on the bottom whilst a an inverted city is on the top of the album cover art, and this highlights the parallel between the jungle and the city. It’s great to see that Trybe Muzik was so intentional to really bring out the theme and concept of their project from top to bottom. The project is full of great moments and songs, the only song I wasn’t a fan of was “Bibles, Buggatis, Bands” but that’s only because I didn’t fully understand it. This album has made its mark on the charts and after listening to the project a few times, it’s easy to see why. if you want to experience a well put together project that glorifies Jesus and showcases amazing artistry, then you need to check out Trybe Muzik’s ‘Sophisticated Jungle.’