Noel and Robbie Arthurton had an uphill road to climb in 1991. The late 80’s had ushered in a new era of gangster rap. Harder beats and harder rhymes were the order of the day. Rappers who achieved success from the previous generation were being written off as corny, soft, commercial or all of the above. There was an active backlash against rap artists who had the (mis)fortune to get featured on commercial radio. Even white rappers attacked other white rappers for being pop music sellouts. What chance did a pair of upbeat, clean living Christian rappers who professed their faith in the Lord have in such an environment? Who would be crazy enough to even record and release such an album in that era?

The Dynamic Twins — that’s who. It would be easy to shit on them for their naivete, but it would also be equally easy to praise them for going against the grain. I’d like to take a different approach with “Word 2 the Wize” and present the picture the way it deserves to be seen. The first thing that I noticed about this album was how similar it sounds to contemporary rap releases despite the Christian overtones. Take “He’s All I Need” for example. You might be tempted to label this as a cornball song about their love for God, but if you take a closer look it sounds an awful lot like Heavy D & the Boyz’ “Now That We Found Love.” Maybe you’d argue Heavy’s song was corny too, so if that’s how you feel stick to your guns, but I like them both.

Now what does “Fantasy” remind you of? Do you think of Paperboy’s “Ditty,” South Central Cartel’s “Livin’ Like Gangstas,” MC Ant on the “Dance Floor” or none of the above? Well they all have Zapp’s “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)” in common and whatever other song you’re thinking of surely does too. This is honestly more fonk with an O than I was expecting from Christian rap twins, but what I also noticed was how much the song reminded me of X-Clan. I swear to you that at some point I expected the late Professor X to come on the track and shout “VANGLORIOUS!” Even though the Christian values are there so are some genuine pearls of wisdom about the vices of the world. If a straight O.G. spit this truth you wouldn’t scoff. “This is a simple warning, a simple warning that you must take heed/This world ain’t nuttin’ but a big joke, cause what you’re living is a fantasy.”

“Christian rap’s not of God, c’mon guys, you gotta be kidding me!” Even in the world of Christian music, rappers had to fight to be respected alongside more traditional gospel artists. “Shakin’ Off Dust” is pretty hardcore as a result and not just because of the guitar riffs. What the Arthurtons are really shaking off here are the HATERS. You have to respect the fact they had to fight two wars at the same — disrespected by hardcore rap artists and skeptical Christians “treatin’ us like some kind of criminal” at the same time. If you focus on the production and the flows, the (literal) brothers are tight.

I can’t give them a pass for “We Need Love” though. While LL Cool J’s “I Need Love” may be one of his most infamous tracks, it was an undeniably huge hit that inspired legions of imitators who tried to copy his chart success. Once again I fall into the camp that “I Need Love” has its charm, but I draw the line at James Todd Smith, and none of the versions that came after other than parodies need to exist. This isn’t a parody. The Dynamic Twins are very sincere on this song. TOO SINCERE. I don’t doubt that they mean every word of this track and that they hope more people turn to God to find that “love” but the whole song has me wishing it was a joke and I regret to inform you that it’s not. Even though “Persuaded” is better musically it borders on didactic preaching I’m not persuaded to enjoy.

Taken on the whole though “Word 2 the Wize” is a surprisingly ambitious album, one whose musical and lyrical styles are very much of the place and time it was recorded. Even though their influence may have been small in the mainstream, their legacy lives on through other Christian rappers who realized they could find their niche, some who they’d go on to work with directly like Peace586. I’m happy for that because rap music should reflect a wide variety of voices, themes, ideas and beliefs. I don’t know that the Twins could convert a heathen and make him a man of God, but I do know you can listen to most of their music without feeling like you’re being slapped around with a Bible.

Dynamic Twins :: Word 2 The Wize
7Overall Score