The beauty of the internet reveals itself in mysterious ways. Before I was an arrogant critic convinced of his superior taste in music, I too was a frequent visitor to RapReviews.com. Matter of fact, many of the artists I now praise I knew nothing of before a favorable review from this site sent me in their direction. So with my humble beginnings in mind, I approached Sober Minded's latest project with much anticipation. Former contributor Jason De Zilva had given "Points, Thoughts, and Stories" a 7.5 rating back in 2006 and that my friends is almost 4 mics if you take it back to The Source. For an underground group dealing with Christian raps, that's pretty impressive. The internet reared its not so ugly head again since without it chances are you would never have heard about Sober Minded. "Nature Hates A Vacuum" contains samples, which are expensive for anyone, especially an independent artist. Rather than shelf the project or replace the expensive samples, the group decided to make the album available for free at drop.io/naturehatesavacuum. It doesn't quite eliminate the potential of a lawsuit, but at least it lets you, the listener and fan, come to your own conclusion.
Despite having all the makings of a great album, this critic comes away quite unimpressed with Sober Minded. To their credit, the beats are head nodding and melodic. The subject matter and lyrics are where things fall apart. The concept of the album is intriguing. The title comes from an Aristotle quote and the crew adds a relevant Pascal quote implying that people live an empty existence and spend their life trying to fill this existence with material things when God is the only thing that could truly fill that void. I did horribly in Religious Philosophy while in college, but I'm following so far. The concept isn't translated very well onto rhymes and beats. You have a song like "Idiot-Boxed-In" which deals with the idea that television is bad and brain washes people. I'm not even bothered by the implication I am an idiot since I watch hours of television a week. Where I get hung up is on the idea that they are criticizing one medium of communication while promoting their own interests. By this I mean that it is highly doubtful they would call one of their fans an idiot or discourage them from listening to music.
It would be extremely unfair to label all music as bad, yet they do so with television. "Ad Nauseam" continues the hypocritical trend as they rip into how easily people are swayed by advertising. The hook is kind of clever as they wish life was like a commercial where you could find one thing to make your life happy – I dig the idea. Sadly, the hook is meant more to criticize commercials rather then express innocent idealism. Once again, they duo basically criticizes the masses for being lemmings to commercialization, but their art form is inherently commercial and hinges on masses following. The trifecta of annoyance culminates with "Opiate of the Masses" where during one of this nation's most exciting presidential contests they decide to declare "politics are the new opiates of the masses." Marx had the idea decades ago so it's not really that fresh and I'm just not feeling the idea of being too critical of the political process right now. Call me a sheep – I don't really care. I think the most vexing point of the album comes on "Jurisprudence" where the emcee seems to be making fun of fat people and popular people. For the good of this world, I hope I am the most uptight critic in the world and somehow missed the intended sarcasm on this track.
For the life of me I can't see the appeal of Sober Minded. De Zilva commended the group for their Christian raps and fresh music, but I find none of this. They mention God a few times, but outside of that the theme of the album doesn't mesh with their intended message. The beats are nice and mellow loop-based concoctions. The emcees are not too bad, though not 4 mic marauders in my opinion. I just think that with all the good intentions in the world Sober Minded attempted to tackle some serious thought provoking issues and failed in the execution. That's only my opinion and as I said before, thanks to the wonders of the internet you don't have to stop there. You have another critic who had a very different take on the group and you have the music itself – free for you to download and form your own opinion. I encourage you to do so.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: August 26, 2008