Psalms in the Midst (EP)
BabelScattered Productions (release date: October 5, 2020)
By Robert M. Marovich
Chicago avant-garde gospel hip-hop artist Leland Philpot draws on hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and techno wizardry for his EP Psalms in the Midst.
Billed as Philpot’s testimony set to music, the EP opens with the title track, a mini-sermon that serves as a general introduction. An aggressive rapper but a disinterested singer, Philpot rhymes rapid fire, near to breathlessly, on “The Gift,” as the beats beep and burble behind him like arcade games. Minimalist beats and gushes of quick rhyming also propel “Break the Chains” and “There IS Hope.”
The verses slow down on “He Never Left Me,” featuring Endurer. “I lost my connection to you like my Wi-Fi,” Philpot rues, praising Jesus for being more constant than parents and friends. His references to battling mental illness are juxtaposed against a cheerful musical backdrop. Another restrained piece, “Marvelous Things.” is part praise and part experiential lesson on escaping fear and anxiety by remembering the power of Jesus.
Philpot steps out of the spotlight on “See God Move.” Tim Young and Destine Young handle the singing while Philpot exhorts on the sonic edges like a pastor encouraging a youth choir. The message, set to a punching bass and Kirk Franklin-inspired perky piano triplets, is on God’s spot-on intervention in our daily lives. It is based in part on Romans 8:28.
It’s an earnest effort that Philpot has produced and engineered, but the selections are hit and miss.
Two of Five Stars
Pick: “See God Move”