Viktorious Music Group (release date: June 17, 2016)
By Bob Marovich
The challenges of being different and the importance of overcoming the divisiveness of difference are at the heart of Tomorrow Came, a Christian hip hop project from the Chicago-born Viktory.
Three tracks in particular address this issue in living color. Based on a true story, “Lunch Tables” features piercingly cool singing support from Ashliann (herself a mixture of cultures) as it tells the story of a “yellow kid” trying to find a seat in the school cafeteria, but nobody wants him because he’s neither black enough nor white enough. The point is that everyone is welcome at God’s table, regardless of color, culture, or socioeconomic status.
The even more prescient “1968” uses the year of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to communicate 2016 fury over police shootings of black men, “media money minimizing the murderers,” and the general state of racial division, which to Viktory can only be overcome by kindness, fealty to God, and the brotherly love Dr. King embraced. On this track, Viktory all but reaches out from the speaker to grab the listener’s collar to get his point across. It’s reminiscent of the explosive rage of early Public Enemy.
“Role Model,” featuring Ashliann and Wesley Smith, uses the setting of a black man’s confrontation with white police officers to make a point about how African Americans are treated by today’s majority.
On a lighter note, Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell joins Viktory on “So Good,” a bouncy affirmation of the transformative power of God’s love.
Tomorrow Came benefits from Viktory’s crisp and clear rhymes and in-your-face delivery, as well as a variety of infectious beats and singable melodies. A couple of tracks, such as “Major” and “Spinnin’,” are not nearly as compelling as the strongest selections, but overall, Tomorrow Came is “more than music,” to borrow a line from one of the tracks.
Anyone who wants to understand the perspective of a young black man in twenty-first century America but doesn’t want to wade through the misogyny and gratuitous violence of gangsta rap need look no further than Tomorrow Came.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Lunch Tables,” “1968”