"I'm an MC y'all, I am who I am," Braille emphatically states on "Remember Your Path," a track from his fourth album, cleverly monikered IV. "Path" follows the artist's road to rap, on a track that's equal parts early life story and homage to hip-hop. It's one of a clutch of autobiographical songs here, which also include his manifesto "Beautiful Harmony" and the intensely personal "Many Stories." But Braille has built his career on such soul-baring, a decision he recounts on the emphatic "Calculated Risk," and expounds upon on "Restless." The risk he refers to, of course, is dedicating his music to God's work. Only rarely, though, does Braille preach, with his sole sermon, "The Cure," delivered over K-Murdock's laid-back beat. Even so, positive messages abound, from the guest-heavy "Constantly Grow" to the heavy-hitting, apocalyptic "Counter Attack," which warns that even though evil approaches, the situation is not hopeless. On "Get It Right" Braille is at war with himself, seeking God's help to overcome sin within and without, and the paranoia and guilt that grip him. That inner turmoil is discomfiting, the dystopia described on "Raise the Dead" horrifying, hauntingly similar to George Romero's Land of the Dead. If there's a positive message there, it's easily missed, but there's no doubting Braille's intent on "Mental Guards (Snitch Blade)," as he boldly retells the story of Christ's betrayal and trial in a modern setting. From paying loving tribute to his wife on the romantic "Blessed Man" to plugging the album on "ADDvice," and himself on the title track, IV covers a lot of ground. But IV doesn't just refer to this being Braille's fourth set nor his desire to provide a cure to societal and social ills. It also references his international vision, with the set's beats provided by producers from around the world. No wonder, then, that the sounds are constantly shifting, the musical influences ever-changing, the moods as varied as Braille's themes. It's a dizzying journey, but the artist's eloquent rhymes and raps always return to potent points, and with them the artist builds up a powerful foundation of advice, self-observance, and self-awareness, with a sharp eye for the larger picture and a larger force at work in the world.
The IV Edition Review
by Jo-Ann Greene
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