At first glance, Lil' Prophet's latest CD gives no indication it is in fact Christian or Gospel rap. The cover features Lil' Prophet in baggy T with a big platinum chain around his neck. The back lists songs with titles like "You Don't Want Me," "Stupid Crazy Crunk," and "Never Scared." An adventurous consumer might purchase the CD expecting the next big thing in southern rap; precisely the goal of Lil' Prophet and Real World Records. Everything about Lil' Prophet, from his presentation to his music, is made to mimic the current trends in rap music. To that end, "Versatile" is a resounding success, but whether that is a good or bad thing is debatable.
Production on the CD is handled mostly by Pettidee, an established Christian rap veteran. The beats are for the most part the trunk rattling, crunk beats that have been popular for the last few years. K-Drama produces a slightly generic, but very bumping track on "You Don't Want Me." Hard hitting bass, stuttering snares, and a smooth guitar make for a catchy beat. "Hulk Hogan On ‘Em" is driven by the deep bass, with a serviceable synth loop thrown on top. "Never Scared" is another rambunctious synth driven affair that would be perfect for Pastor Troy. "We Ready" sounds like it borrows a little too much from "Lean Back" "Tastes Like Candy" mimics the Indian sampled beats that were popular a few years back. Otherwise, the beats tend to stay in the same bumping, but unoriginal range throughout.
Lyrically, Lil' Prophet tends to achieve the same result as his secular peers. Though he tries to rep for God as much as possible, many of his songs are surprisingly shallow. "You Don't Want Me" is a rowdy trash talking anthem dedicated to the devil. The track has some elements that bring a fresh approach to Christian rap, but it also contains some of the same clichés that dooms most secular rap. "Tastes Like Candy" is one of the few songs that entirely misses its mark. The most unnerving element of the track is the fact that Lil' Prophet uses candy as a metaphor for sex and temptations of the flesh, but the hook features children chanting "I want some candy." "Trapped In Love" and "That's Me" both tackle the subject of love, but seem to contradict themselves. "That's Me" is an ode to the good things in life where Lil' Prophet brags about how much better life would be for the object of his desire if she left her current man for him. He brags about the Hummer truck with 22s and taking the girl on a shopping spree. "Trapped In Love" on the other hand criticizes a woman for being attracted to a man for being rich. Such contradiction seems to be the main pitfall of an album such as "Versatile" as the attempt to make Christian music with a secular approach can lead to an album that is neither. Lil' Prophet salvages the album's worst moments with songs like "Most High God," "I Go Hard," and "Never Scared," all of which give us a refreshingly high energy, aggressive manner to celebrate the lord.
Overall, "Versatile" achieves its goal of presenting Christian music in a more attractive format. For the younger crowd attracted to the crunk and crank dat style of music, "Versatile" is a good Christian substitute. The album contains some contradictions, but nothing that is inappropriate. The beats are bumping, bass heavy party music that is sure to get anyone's head nodding. Lil' Prophet is average lyrically, but the album is driven by catchy hooks that make up for it. Those looking for Christian rap music with mainstream appeal need look no further.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: September 21, 2010