Production by Religion
I run into many aficionados of hip hop music who claim that so called conscious music is not sustainable in our current climate. They lament at how many of these conscious artists can rhyme but put out poorly produced albums. In the past several years, there have been several wonderfully produced albums that promote positive messages. While many of them are independent and have no access to mainstream venues, most of them rival and at times overpower their major label peers.
Jasiri X, an activist and educator as well as an MC, drops an album under the Wandering Worx imprint to once again prove the doubters wrong.
It took me a second to realize that the production was handled entirely by Religion. The tracks are diverse enough to make any listener assume it was produced by several people instead of one. That is the first thing that stands out. Religion is not afraid to experiment. While there are producers where you can immediately guess the region of the United States they reside in, you can't guess with Religion. All the beats are hard and compliment Jasiri X instead of overwhelm his lyrics. I hope to hear more from Religion.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jasiri X, he first came onto the national scene with a series of weekly rhymes about current events happening throughout the country. MCs should take note. It was these series of songs that really sharpened Jasiri X's flow. His delivery got sharper and sharper with each week. In Ascension, Jasiri X comes through loud and clear. With many MCs that have much to say in a few bars, they are usually missing clarity. Jasiri X does not have this problem. The album is a demonstration of what investing into one's delivery and style can do. This clarity is easily translated to the stage which is another area that many MCs who are lyrically dope are lacking in. You don't have to rewind to get what what Jasiri X is saying. Couple that with Religion's production, and Ascension comes off loud and in your face. Folks who pay attention to lyrics will definitely appreciate this.
The title track really opens up the listener. Jasiri X and Religion immediately come right in with this first track with no long intro. They just get it in. The stand out tracks are "21 Forever," We the Changers," and my favorite "42 Bar Thesis," for those who think that Jasiri X couldn't bring it. Overall, the album brings everything it promises. I will admit that I expected Jasiri X to just preach, but he doesn't. Then again, for those that don't know he is an activist not a preacher. His role as an activist plays out in the music. Religion's production is as sharp as the MC. For those who find that consciously active hip hop music is dead or doesn't work, I highly recommend Ascension.