“I wake up every morning with a smile on my face
I’m so happy to be alive, I can honestly say
I see the sun through the window but the blinds in the way
So I open them muh’fuckas, see that fire in space
WOW, I’m praying that I can live through the day
But there’s angels all around me so I feel like I’m safe
I try to tell these little niggas – put your pistols away”

Few albums titles, (or title tracks, whose lyrics are above) can be as genuine as Swigga’s “Ready To Live”. For most street emcees, such a grand pronouncement would be pure exaggeration, but for Swigga (formerly known as L-Swift), it defines his new mentality for his second lease on life. After a failed attempt at suicide in May 2000, Swigga’s life flipped 180, the Bronx-raised spiiter suddenly realizing how much this life has to offer. With this new perspective, Swigga drops a mostly-positive, appreciative effort in the form of “Ready To Live”.

Setting the tone with the title track, “Ready To Live” comes close to what many would categorize as a Christian rap album, minus his unabashed swearing. A majority of the tracks showcase a guy just happy to be alive, his lyrics consistently praising the Almighty. It’s quite refreshing to see a guy so genuinely appreciative of his own life, though at times this can get artistically repetitive. It’s his zeal that keeps things interesting. As a lyricist, Swigga is very promising, demonstrating an above-average vocabulary and a unique, charismatic voice. In fact, it’s an interesting dynamic when God-praising lyrics are delivered with such a gravelly, raspy voice.

The downfall of the album comes in a few forms. Firstly, there are more than enough interludes that tail songs throughout the album and many of the choruses, albeit well-intentioned, are unlistenable. Secondly, the repetitiveness can get draining. Just for reader education, it’s not the topic that’s repetitive. I would consider myself relatively knowledgeable about the Christian hip-hop subgenre and can say that several emcees within that genre have proven it’s possible to create artistically diverse albums even if the overall focus is God. Swigga tends to reiterate the same points rather than expand them, which is something we can hopefully look forward to. Lastly, on such a focused album, some of the tracks included just don’t make sense, particularly “Chronic-Alcaholic”. Considering the circumstances, how are you gonna make a song that glorifies your addiction to something that could kill you again? Did he just say “I’m gonna smoke my brains out”? Yep.

“Ready To Live” is a successful work-in-progress. Swigga has more than enough ability to rock the mic, wielding a distinct energy and presence that you just can’t teach somebody. Now it’s just a matter of putting that talent into a strong album. With his new outlook on life, that’s entirely possible.

Swigga :: Ready to Live