Every now and then an artist will evolve and change into someone else for better or for worse. With this evolution, a change in an artist’s sound or even their name may occur. Playdough has been rapping under this name for about 15 years from Texas to all around the world. In March, Playdough announced he would change his name to Krum (which is his last name). Shortly after announcing this, Krum announced an album would be releasing soon. Playdough was known by his fans as  “The Road Dogs” for his light-hearted well spit rap, but what would Krum sound like? Let’s dive into his newest project Bare Knuckle Gospel.

This collaborative effort between Krum and Rob Viktum was released on independent label, Rappers I Know. This album is chock-full of samples from Gospel songs and boasts only two features, which fits into the Bare Knuckle theme. The album art is an empty church and I believe it’s symbolic of not just the content but Krum and Viktum’s approach to each record. On quite a few records, you can hear the crackle of the vinyl and that analog sound seems to be making a comeback in certain pockets of music. “Genesis” kicks the album off with Krum speaking of feeling too far gone as he’s lived on the back pew his whole life, but the Gospel still reached him and set him off on his journey. Then comes “Suitcases and Passports,” which speaks of the journey we take through this life as a Believer reporting “live from the Shadow of Death.” The visual for this song helps bring it to life as it was filmed in a desert with Krum walking and rapping. My favorite song on the project “Merci” (means thank you in French and a few other languages) finds Krum thanking God for his trials and something many artists take for granted: the fans. He speaks of fans driving six hours to see him perform, making their own homemade shirts, praying for him and encouraging him through his life and career. The bar “while you saying thanks to me, I’m saying thanks to you” stands out on this heartfelt appreciative track.

The album then moves to “The Rain Come” where Krum’s first words are “Jesus told me I’m the shh,” which may throw some off but he went on to say, “use my verse as fertilizer” to nourish others, flipping the braggadocio swagger often associated with hip hop into one of service. The songs “Nineveh” and “Grandma’s Prayer” are some other stand out tracks on the album worth checking out. Bare Knuckle Gospel closes with the song “The Real Question” and has Krum spitting dope bars about life, where he is going, his place in it and how he wants to hear the Lord say, “Well done.” My favorite line on this song was “Went as Lazarus for Halloween, so I could die to myself and come back as a new machine.” This song is the perfect way to close out the album.

Bare Knuckle Gospel is a great return to Krum’s Texas roots with an injection of hip hop. Being that half of my family is from Texas, this album reminds me of Sunday service in a church in the country. A church where handheld fans were the air conditioning and the pastor would be sweating as he preached. The title of this project is so fitting because it’s stripped down to Gospel samples and Gospel heavy rhymes, a return to the basics if you will. For those curious about the Parental Advisory sticker, Krum tweeted out the definition of explicit, which had words like “clear,” “ “concise” and “straightforward.” This album is just that. Just a man talking about his experience with Jesus the Christ, that’s Bare Knuckle Gospel.