One of the most consistent labels over the past few years has easily been Humble Beast. The amazing rap label that gives all their releases for free. Jackie Hill Perry’s debut album, The Art of Joy, is the latest of the Humble Beast releases, and it’s a beauty.
Jackie’s testimony is an amazing one. Once a homosexual, she found and gave her life to Christ and He gave her a new life and transformed her into the strong Christian she is today. Her story is strewn skillfully throughout this record and it makes for an enormously encouraging listen.
Lyrically, like most of Humble Beast’s albums, it’s drenched with deep theology and themes that will make you think and question. Honestly, each song is a lyrical masterpiece, even rivaling my favourite Humble Beast artists, Beautiful Eulogy and Propaganda. Songs like Educated Fool deal with the dangers of seeking knowledge as Jackie raps, “It’s like following after our role model Eve, when she found that apple attractive, it wasn’t the apple she was after, it was the satisfaction of wisdom from other masters.”
Better, featuring fellow Humble Beast artist, JGivens, talks about rising above the norms and ways of the world and becoming, “Better than all the stuff around you.” Featuring a beautiful hook by Natalie Lauren, this is a definite highlight.
Another unmissable highlight is The Solution, featuring Eshon Burgundy. It speaks of the problems and brokenness of the world, and that our solution is only in Christ. What I love is that Jackie raps with such a passion, you can feel that she means every word she says. This isn’t a person who found a religion, this is a person who found life. As you listen, make sure to listen to the end, as there is a hidden track that’s another lyrical gem in itself.
A song that hit home for me is Dead Preacher. A track about the state of the church and their money hungry ways. Production and music wise, it’s pretty dark, I even found it a little creepy, but it works beautifully. I love the interlude with the preacher speaking to his congregation. A truly convicting track and a must listen for any music fan.
I could go on and highlight each track, but since this review is getting pretty long, I’ll look to the raps and production.
Jackie’s raps are near perfect. She flows effortlessly and sometimes rhymes so fast, if you aren’t listening carefully, you’ll miss what she’s saying. To the listener who’s new to rap, it could begin to sound the same on each track, but if you take the time to let it sink in, you’ll find that each track has its own personality.
Production wise, it’s flawless. Though it won’t break any new ground, it doesn’t stay safe either. It sticks out the box just enough to keep it fresh and to avoid it sounding like just another rap or hip/hop album. Even a few pop influences are thrown in in the hooks, especially in Get Better and the title track. At no point does the album veer off course apart from the spoken word piece, Suffering Servant. Spoken poetry is what Jackie began with, so it’s a really nice surprise to hear a track like this on the record.
Overall, this is a very cohesive rap album that ends as strongly as it begins, and no where does it waver in the middle. It’s an experience through brokenness and hope you won’t forget, and I encourage anyone who likes hip/hop, or just good music, to check out Jackie Hill Perry’s debut record, The Art of Joy.
As with all Humble Beast records, you can download the record for free right here, http://www.humblebeast.com/ You won’t regret it.