The Gift and the Calling 3
Humble Brag Music (release date: December 25, 2022)
By Robert M. Marovich
The Gift and the Calling 3 is the finale of Christian hip hop artist Jarred AllStar’s The Gift and the Calling Series, which began in 2020.
Turns out that the finale’s opener, “Real Big Big God,” is the project’s most infectious selection. It’s a catchy contemplation on not sweating the small stuff in life and paying no attention to the world’s dirty laundry. Autobiographical, the song describes in rhyme how Jarred’s acceptance of Christ is why he is where he is today.
To a buzzing beat, “A Million More” refers not to earning more money but to saying more prayers. The results are obvious: “I came here with nothin’,” Jarred raps. “Still feel like I got it all.”
In “No Ops,” Jarred declares that his ministry is not to preach to the saints but to spread the word to the “ain’ts.” And instead of opposition, he feels love: “The only op I recognize is opportunity.” A jazzy backdrop eases “You Know the Spirit” forward, as Jarred argues how some secular rappers are disappearing before the rapture: “They didn’t even get their fifteen.”
Jarred pulls no punches on the dramatic, “Black Opera,” a paean to the resilience of his city, New York, and a declamation of the economic and social woes that require such resilience. Aliya Hall offers a haunting vocal assist on this, the album’s most disquieting moment.
“Praise God,” featuring a compelling assist from Davina, preaches that the best way to praise God is by practicing love. Davina returns, with Jonnie Kilroy, on the song that closes the album and the series, the appropriately titled “Amen.” Amidst a breeze of whispered “amens” and the album’s most minimalist backdrop, Jarred rapid-fires seemingly disparate thoughts, several of which center on time ticking away. The ticking clock figures into Jarred’s former work.
Jarred AllStar is a confident rapper with a languorous singing voice and just the right beats for his messages. Releasing an album on Christmas Day is unusual in the music business, but it’s not the first time he’s done it. Plus, when it’s a Christian album with the word “gift” in the title, a December 25 issue date works, metaphorically speaking.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Real Big Big God”