Sho Baraka

Talented 10th

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An ambitious, big ball of worship and revolution, 116 Clique member Sho Baraka's third album was influenced by the W.E.B. Du Bois essay of the same name, something he reinforces with some rage during the tense opener "Bethesda." "I wanna sell records yet I feel eager to write political tunes that give a certain finger" the Christian rapper declares, but it's the tyranny of man that keeps him from his goal as "I'm thirsty for His revelations, now where's the colored fountain?" is delivered in no uncertain terms. Later, it's a racial slur re-appropriated during the key track "Jim Crow" ("I feel trapped in a crazy place/Asking the Lord for amazing grace") which may be common in mainstream hip-hop, but it's a revolutionary move on the Christian side of the genre, making this a CCM release parents may want to discuss with the young ones before playing. That said, Sho Baraka's writing is in top form, all the elaborate productions are on point, and his heartfelt performances here suggest he feels his art would be blunted if he compromised. Even if Talented 10th is controversial, from Sho Baraka's angle, it's "true talk" and if it ruffles some feathers, that's exactly what it was designed to do.

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