Brinson :: Escaping Me :: GodChaserz Entertainment
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

It's probably not hard to tell from the lack of parental advisory sticker or the fact his label is called GodChaserz Entertainment that Brinson is on a little different tip than many of his contemporaries. It's funny that being a Christian rapper has gotten tagged with being corny over the years, even though nobody has ever said it was corny to praise Allah in a song or for DMX to open an album with a prayer before he starts sinning. Faith alone does not a cornball rapper make - faith plus being a goody two-shoes MC with simplistic and whack rhymes will. Give the GodChaserz crew credit where it's due, they've learned from mistakes made in the past. Their albums have evolved over time from mediocre releases like Jovan MacKenzy to standout albums like Readywriter's "Conduit," proving that you can indeed put God in rap without taking the G out the rapper.

Having found their stride of late, the founder and CEO of the label is ready to take his own turn in the spotlight. This is not a Diddy powerplay, this is another rapper with something positive to say that's going to be said in his own faith-based way. His full name is A. Brinson Wright, but you can call him Brinson for short. The J. Pierre produced "Hello" starts things out on a rough and rugged note, posing himself as the new alternative if "you tired of that same ol' same ol'." It definitely sounds new - definitely noisy as hell (oh pardon me, noisy as HECK) - but not the same thing you'll hear from other rap artists. "I Can't See Myself" has a more traditional R&B meets hip-hop style beat from The 10th Leper, which works well for the GodChaserz all-star collaboration where both ReadyWriter and MacKenzy lay down thoughtful verses about how they went from sinning to winning. It's a good start for the prophets, moving from the pulpit to the mic in a way that won't turn off hardcore hip-hop heads.

There are times where Brinson and his crew can't avoid going over the top with their spirituality though, and "Long As I Live" is the first example. I can understand praising God every day or thanking Jesus every night, but Brinson's level of devotion to faith borders on myopic on this song. "As long as there's air in my lungs, I'll always love the holy one/My God he made me free, big Jesus with a capital C." That plus the simplistic delivery DOES I fear cross the line a little bit. You're trying a little too hard to put the Lord into a verse when you have to rhyme "free" by shortening Christ to a "C." DMX starts every album with a prayer, but after a little while you start to get the feeling Brinson opens every SONG with a prayer, and "We Need a Savior" won't convince you otherwise.

Thankfully (praise the Lord) Brinson rebounds from what could have been a fatal series of overly preachy and worshipful songs early on to make a strong comeback. "These Are Things" has a much more realistic vibe, noting that just because you are "saved" doesn't mean you're not still going to go through struggle and strife in your life. I feel that. Brinson also benefits from the positive effects of collaboration, as he turns in a stronger performance when he doesn't have to write or rap the entire song by himself. "Solar Powered" featuring D-M.A.U.B. is a fine song, and even has a strong enough beat to boom in the ride without being embarassed in front of your non-religious friends. Production is one of the album's strongest facets in general, as Brinson makes fine use of keyboards and samplers on "I Remember" while busting out a good combo of clap to rap on "What Should I Pray?" The song is also one of Brinson's hardest performances lyrically, as he spits a reality rap about not wanting to see his homey end up dead from chasing illegal moneymaking, while Knine and MacKenzy play the role of the homey who just doesn't want to hear it.

Brinson shows a lot of potential on "Escaping Me," potential that can be nurtured to grow over time, but he has to be careful about the possibility that putting faith before writing rhymes can sometimes result in whack fucking rhymes (pardon my language). As long as he remembers that you have to make songs people can relate to besides just being a fellow Christian, he'll be alright, particularly since he's got some good rappers on his label to keep him on the path of positivity AND lyrical competency. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised if you give "Escaping Me" a chance, since Brinson is blessed with some God-given talent and can truly say that both spiritually and metaphorically he's got nowhere to go but up.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: September 23, 2008