It’s not everyday that you can find an artist with some success locally that also puts religion at the center of their content, but Braille is definitely that artist. This Portland artist has toured with De La Soul, James Brown, and Snoop Dogg, recorded on beats from 9th Wonder, and has become one of the most prominent Christian Hip-Hop artists in the country. His most recent solo album “Native Lungs” which can be downloaded for free at http://www.nativelungs.com/, features a plethora of production from hip-hop’s royalty in Evidence, Khrysis, and Ohmega Watts, but also Beautiful Eulogy, Dave Notti, Trox, Calvin Valentine, Xperiment, Soul Kontrollaz, and himself. Please be sure to click the link and download the album so you can follow along as I take it track-by-track.
Things start on breathing west coast beat with the video single and title track where Braille let’s you know that he is a west coast native and a humble lung in the accomplished history of hip-hop thus far. On the next one two of hip-hop’s greatest producers Evidence and Krysis combine on “Feel It” and Braille explains his authenticity of his music further by the chorus that repeats, “You can feel it like Braille.” The west coast beasts continue on “Death in Me” with help from Theory Hazit and his Humble Beast partner Odd Thomas about the death can be revived through the resurrection. The next track starts on a saving prayer before beginning “We Will Remember” about the scars from his past that continue to haunt him and overcoming the trials that continue to test his faith. “The Hardway” is next featuring Andy Mineo about learning the religious lessons the hard way. The almost political “Rhymes on Everything” follows concerning why he stays a religious rapper because he could rhyme about anything, but he wants his rhymes to mean something. Next up is “The New Raw” produced by Ohmega Watts where Braille relishes in that he’s killing these beats for his god. A creepy beat follows on “Nightmare Walking” about the devil as a woman trying to get you to sin. The organs come out on “Too Many Tomorrows” where Braille challenges tomorrow rather than fearing it. Next up things slow down with “Step Up” about needing to step up his faith, his decision making, and everything as he grows older. The crazy sounding “48 Prisons” follows where Braille rhymes 48 bars about overcoming sin. “Deep Rest” follows sounding the peace he has through knowing Jesus is returning despite how the world is. The final track of the album “Finally Arrive” is actually a remake of an original DJ Cassidy song about reaching that peace in his god.
I don’t pretend to be a religious man, but it is easy to see true art when it’s on display no matter it’s cause. Braille takes chopped and screwed west coast samples and a breathily style to a new dimension on “Native Lungs.” To a believer of the Christian faith many of the themes on the record would mean a lot more to them, but those same themes also were universal enough to touch a non believer such as myself. It’s a curious thing in hip-hop today that we can as Kanye once put it, “rap about guns, violence and drugs on video tape,” but if we “talk about God our record won’t get played, huh?” To me a flow is a flow and an album comes together that much better when it’s about something important to the artist. To some people their faith is their everything and Braille keeps it authentic by keeping his music on the levels that are important to him while keeping it sounding acceptable not to be too pushy on those that don’t agree with him.
In any event, don’t just rely on me. Go ahead and comment with your opinions below after you download Braille’s free album, “Native Lungs,” at http://www.nativelungs.com/.
D-Money, Juice Radio’s music director, reviews an album once a week track by track. If you’d like to have your album and or mixtape reviewed honestly, well thought out, and including the wide exposure potential that comes with then please email D with your request at [email protected] He’ll work with any budgett!