Water and Wine
Independent (release date: December 25, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
What I find particularly interesting about Christian hip hop is that, like any type of poetry, the more you listen, the more you are rewarded with new insights.
Of course, not every song or poem is deep, but enough are to warrant closer investigation.
This is certainly the case with Jarred AllStar Haynes’ Water and Wine. While some selections gush with the unbridled joy of salvation, others have more incisive messages.
Peppering his rhymes with humorous references to popular culture, Jarred, a licensed minister, finds meaning in paradox. For example, on “Playground Song,” Jarred and Drea Renee (the rising star from Baltimore?) employ sing-song children’s rhymes to explore a love mature. And while the phrase “church socks” typically means socks with holes that can be seen easily, Jarred flips the reference for his hook-laden “Church Socks.” His church socks do not have holes–instead, they are fashion statements, a way to “express yourself” and “respect yourself.”
Jarred does not use Water and Wine to whine. He acknowledges a speckled past, which includes a troubled love relationship (e.g., “Xtra Xtra,” featuring Jalana Walton-Walker), but instead of dwelling on the pain, he sets his sights on the future. On the confessional and existential “Blind Me,” featuring Jonny Wimbush (“Reset”), Jarred asks God to blind him with the light so he can “be who I ought to be, before I’m gone.”
With minimalist beats and a smooth melody clearing space for the rhyme, “Full Gospel” sounds like old school hip hop. Here Jarred delivers the album’s moral: purpose is greater than pleasure. The piece includes an excellent extended interpolation of the late Elder Ron Slaughter singing “He Looked Beyond My Thoughts” at what sounds like a church service.
To a ticking clock rhythm, “Coal Colored Diamonds” is the album’s most overtly political statement. It’s not a black and white thing, Jarred spits, it’s a “green” thing: it’s about money, or the lack of it. He rages against the elitism / racism that has roots as far back as Columbus and his presumption that America was his for the conquering. Looking at life through Jarred’s eyes, we are all, in one way or another, coal colored diamonds.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “All I Have is Faith,” “Church Socks”