Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Songs of Zion

TJ Fredette “In the Blink of an Eye”

For a long time, I’ve been saying that I want to see a full spectrum of LDS music. I want to see hard rock and rock lite (“One third the noise of our regular music”), and country, and pop, and urban, and yes, even hip-hop and rap.

I’ve long thought that if there were a good member of the church, that did good rap, it would find a place in the youth of the church.

Now, whenever I mention that, someone inevitably brings up the “Mormon Rap” song that was done by the Walter and Hayes band many years ago. That was a fun tune, but it wasn’t at ALL real rap. It wasn’t meant to be. It was a novelty tune.

Well, over time, I’ve run into a small handful of LDS rappers. One of the best I’ve encountered is one from New York named TJ Fredette. I recently got his self-produced CD, entitled “In the Blink of an Eye”. I’ve been listening to it off and on since, and anticipating what I would say about it in my Songs of Zion review.

I hesitated to review it, actually, because his website is currently down for renovations, and in my communication with him I found that he’s got some new material coming out. In fact, he sent me some tunes, and it made me think that I should wait for that release.

But in the end, my excitement won out.

“Blink of an Eye” has some great tunes on it. Let me just say up front that I’m not a rapper, and I’m not very well schooled in the genre. However, I have kept my ear to the ground and I’m liking what I’m hearing here! A big problem I’ve had with other LDS rap in the past is that it ends up sounding like a Sunday school lesson that rhymes. TJ’s material is driving and not at all preachy. It’s not flighty and frivolous, either. It deals with some real life stuff, and I come out learning.

“Drop to My Knees” is by far my favorite on the CD. It’s hooky and memorable, which is tough for a musical styles that doesn’t use melody. There are some schweet samples being used in the background here, too. I think it also has the strongest mix on the CD.

There were a few songs that used a sung chorus. That helped drive in the hooks, too, making those tunes even easier to recall. “Crisis was one”, and “We Don’t Play Around”.

I wish, for all those that enjoy mainstream rap, that I could send you to a site to buy this CD. At best right now, you can download “Drop to My Knees” at http://www.ldsmusicworld.com/artists/tj_fredette.html. As cool as I think these tunes are, I gotta warn you, the stuff coming up is even better. He’s got the same drive and intensity in his vocals, the hooky sung choruses, and on top of that he’s got better production and smoother mixes. He’s truly kicked it up a notch.

But don’t worry, I’ll be going on about that when it comes out in full.

Also, I admit to my ignorance as a non-rapper, but it seems to me that the moniker “TJ Fredette” is not the strongest “nom d’ street” I could come up with… :-)





MRKH
Mark Hansen
http://markhansenmusic.com

10 comments:

  1. I am so sorry, but his music is offensive! Even my teen said it was disrespectful! YUCK! 4 thumbs down!

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  2. I suppose beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe because of that spiritual offense is, too... I don't find this guys music to be offensive in the very least. I mean here are some of the words from the sample: "I drop to my knees every night to pray, Dear God please help me through my fight to day. Help me live right and help me spread love. While I fight through my life, guide me from above."
    If those words had been set to music by Janice Kapp Perry, I have a feeling shelly would have liked them much better.
    That still doesn't make them offensive. Clearly this is a young man who's using a new medium to spread the gospel. Just because the medium is different doesn't change the message; consider the difference between attending general conference in person and watching it over TV. There are many things on TV that are offensive. When General Conference is broadcast over TV it doesn't make it offensive, simply because it shares a communication medium with soap operas, f-bombs and pornography. Extending the metaphor (perhaps a little too far, but I think it still holds) a bit further, hip-hop, like television, is a medium that's mostly bad. Here, the message has changed. That doesn't make the message offensive just because its medium is usually bad...

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  3. Okay, lets get a mental picture, we see our priest quorum 1st asst. pulling up in a car, the windows down, would you rather him blasting "put my life in the hands of God" or "I slit my gf's throat then f***** her"? C'mon people Shelly dont get so negative, how is it disrespectful???

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  4. Okay, I find the 'rap' beat to be offensive. I can not get past the beat of the rap.
    Your are right Paul, Set to Janice Kapp Perry would be more pleasing to my ears.
    My son is a Priest and thankfully he can't stand Rap. He even tells me the Rap beat is a turn off.

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  5. I love it too! The message is positive and heartfelt. I can understand that Shelly and her family do not like rap, there are many who do not. However, there are so many kids who do, and isn't it great that there are artists committed to bringing hopeful, good messages and lessons through it! I love rap and usually can't listen to it because so much of it is trashy. A beat in itself really can't be disrespectful, not unless we immediately attach to it images and words usually used with rap songs and culture. However, a beat can be disliked. I don't like hard metal rock melodies, for instance. They hurt my ears, but I wouldn't be able to call it disrespectful until images or words, either from my own mind or from someone else became attached to the melody. It's important to look past the beat and realize the messages the artist is trying to get across. Then, even if it goes against what you like, you can still appreciate what they are trying to do. It's perfectly fine to not like something and not want to listen to it, everyone has their own personalities, but I don't think it wise to put down artists who are trying to do good in this world, and who have a testimony of the Gospel, regardless of personal taste. Hopefully we would all be interested in encouraging more of good music, in all genres, so that there is some good for every taste to listen to. Again, I love the music and hope to hear more soon!

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  6. tj has a new site- Moral Music
    -----you can buy his cds here

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  7. I am not really into the new hip hop. I think the message had become skewed from the older hip hop which was more about having a good time - and the beats and rhythms reflected that idea. However, I can see that this individual has talent and I do respect them for using that talent in a positive manner. I actually found your blog in a googling of "mormon rap". Feel free to click my name and visit my space on the vast WWW. Thanks for posting this review. Cheers.

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  8. My turn. Being raised in Kalamazoo, MI, non-LDS, in a non-LDS environment, morals was not something I was tought well growing up. Rap was my favorite genre and as loud and offensive as I could get, I'd let it play outside with my friends happily dancing nearby. Rap was music to me.

    Since then, I've grown up, joined the LDS church, went on a mission, married in the Temple, and serve where ever I can. Rap lives within me. I LOVE the music. However, for the past 10 or so years, I've shut it off, sadly due to offensive and immoral lyrics. I've changed my music genres over the years and found myself discovering many good, talented LDS musicians in the world today.
    I'm one who hangs on every word sung in songs. My wife and friends around me are a bit taken when I can rehearse to them the lyrics that come from the songs they listen to. Most people focus in on the "beats" of the music. Not me. I want to know what's being "preached" to me. Unfortunately, most mainstream music on the radios is NOT safe for your children and just plain attacks our morals. I can't listen to our top radio stations out here where I live now.

    What does all this have to do with TJ Fredette? Having stumbled across his songs "Drop to My Knees" and "Humble Life" on LDSMusicWorld.com, I analyzed every word TJ was rehearsing. Captivated, I went to his website and bought their Organized Rhymes CD.
    Thrilled, pleased, and astounded, I've added TJ and "cohorts" to the first in my list of my iTunes and on my iPod. It is very rare when one buys an entire album, all the songs are good. This album? It's that good!

    Heartfelt, and respectful to God, TJ Fredette is one who is using his talents in a way I'm sure is far from offensive.

    Parents, check your children's music. Listen to the words. You just may find, the "non-offensive" sounding music may be laced with life-threatening language and stories. TJ Fredette, on the other hand - Thank God one has stood up to change the times. Parents, you'd be better off replacing some of your childrens' music with TJ's.

    MoralMusic.com? It's quite fitting.

    Keep em coming TJ. I'll buy more.

    "Humble Life" = Greatest Rap song I've ever heard. I'm sure Christ feels honored.

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