(release date: October 14, 2016)
By Bob Marovich
Hostyle Gospel, the Christian hip hop trio from Champaign, Illinois, is back with its fourth release, Hostyle Takeover.
This fourteen-cut album finds the collective persistent in its quest to blot out evil, with the “takeover” being a call to overturn a world based on hierarchy, not the content of one’s character or God-given ability.
If we didn’t know already, the album’s Travon Martin-themed “Skittles & Iced Tea” exposes a whole lot of contemporary evil in the guises of racism, discrimination, hatred, and murder, with African American males as the victims. Similarly, “No Justice No Peace” decries a world where children can’t walk to school without being shot and where there are supremacists of all colors. “What about Christ supremacy?” they ask. They just want a “country where we can breathe.”
Despite overwhelming odds, Hostyle Gospel is convinced it will prevail against evil, it will “keep the dream alive” (“Dream”), even though the men admit on “Big Job” that the solution is essentially out of their hands: “God don’t need my help, but I offer my assistance.” Nevertheless, they strap on the Bible as a “holy weapon” (“Clap”) and work on “bringing life to these dry bones” (“Proverb”). During “My Block,” they chant infectiously at the demons: “You ain’t gotta go home but you gotta get outta here.” In the hands of the trio, this party chant become a declaration that the devil is not wanted here.
Besides sobering social commentary, Hostyle Gospel brings a variety of beats to Hostyle Takeover. Impressive rapid fire rhyming skills are on full display during “Proverb,” “Clap,” and “King Solomon.”
There are a few melodic tracks, such as “My Block,” featuring a lovely vocal by LaQuisha Burries; “Angel,” a heartrending tribute by Tone Jonez to a lost family member; and “They Don’t Know,” featuring Marty B and Lamorax. These three latter tracks comprise the finest moments on the album, though, as usual, Hostyle Gospel gives the listener plenty to ponder throughout.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “They Don’t Know,” “Angel,” “My Block.”