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Heart Music


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"Album Review (The Dedication)"

One of hip-hop's well beaten paths is that of dope slinger turned rhyme slinger. Not surprisingly, Christian hip-hop is not immune to this phenomenon. The Lord has called many a street denizen to the recording booth, with powerful results for calling people to Him.
Put two checks next to Kaleb Starr's name, one for having survived the streets, and one for having a great testimony for the Creator. His latest release, The Dedication, uses personal stories, attention-grabbing lyrics and dope beats for ministry.
According to KalebStarr.com, the artist takes his name from Caleb of the Old Testament and the star that led the three wise men to baby Jesus. The origins of his name seem fitting, as he lays out his loyalty to the Lord, his survival ethic and his desire to lead on the album.
“They Wanna Know” details how he wandered in the wilderness of street life for a number of years, “selling anything” across the country, as reported on his MySpace page, and sleeping anywhere he could catch rest, from park benches and parked Expeditions to roach and rat-infested motels with cracked ceilings. “Yesterday” paints a picture of the emcee cut off from his love, “only touching my girl through palms and letters,” implying a stretch of incarceration. “If sin was getting married to Satan I'd be the best man,” K. Starr quips on the track (which also features Brothatone and Fly Guy), on this lost period in his life.
On “They Wanna Know” The Cincinnati MC recalls thinking about how he came from a good life and suburban origins and was not really meant to be a hustler. The song has him close to tears thinking about the turns his life took, but the moment of desperation is fleeting, as he convinces himself not to cry around his clique. Like his namesake, Caleb, he was eventually delivered from his wilderness. “Police missed me, but God put out an A.P.B.,” he said.
“I'm Okay,” with the 70's soul sound that graces many classic hip-hop tracks, reveals the struggles K. Starr faced after initiating a relationship with the Lord, namely getting back on track after backsliding. “The whole time worried that the devil was right/and God was going to leave me 'cause of the sin I can't fight/but he been so faithful, stuck with me through the mess/I'm OK, pondering every step/through this walk, I've made so many mistakes/but, uh, I've got mercy, and I've got grace,” he says. Chalk up this one as a classic inspirational track, as K. Starr goes in with personal, heartfelt lyrics over the beat adorned with strings, wah-wah guitar and a cooing female soul sample. “Bravehearted,” with a rocking head nodder of a beat, turns up the lyricism in a shout-out to fellow Christians. Kenny Mathis and Vigilant guest star on this track.
While most of the songs discuss how God changed Kaleb Starr's life for the better, he does change the subject on “Neva Too Much,” offering this jewel of encouragement for others wanting to evolve from a broken place: “Praise your way out, 'cause man, the devil lied to you/my God, he'll open up the sky for you/joy cometh in the morning, I been cryin' too.” “Love Stories” also offers advice. After an extra-long chronicle of romantic conquests in his past life, K. Starr settles in to say that sacred love is more effective at filling in the holes in one's heart.
If you're a sucker for the early Kanye West production sound like I am, this album will fit nicely into your collection. Many of the songs are laced with sped-up soul samples and dramatic instrumentation, the kind of sonic landscape that Talib Kweli might call home. A couple songs, “Ay Yo” and “84 Pills” (which loops the theme song for TV show “The Office”), sport a more Midwest/Southern flavor, however, offering a teeny bit of variety.
K. Starr is certainly a talented MC, with a knack for emotional storytelling and the ability to launch a barrage of entertaining metaphors and turns of phrase on the release. Ironically, though, content is also the primary stumbling point. Although his story of salvation is captivating (the album doesn't even touch on him getting kicked out of the Navy, something mentioned on his MySpace page), it would be nice to hear more of how he lives now as a more mature Christian, and what lessons he has for those who want to walk in his footsteps. Additionally, the release doesn't offer a selection of Bible verses for fans, who might be hungry for salvation, to look up. True, not every Christian rapper does this, but it's always helpful, especially when K. Starr's primary intended audience is people who don't typically see the inside of a church.
Regardless of any need for more discussion of applying Christian values, it is clear that God has his hand in Kaleb Starr's life, as he is a survivor of some pretty rough circumstances. That he not only survived, but also found his way to God in one piece and is more than willing to discuss it, is definitely to God's glory. - DaSouth.com


Certified Bang Session, No Matter What, The Dedication



Look this is the story. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent most of my life in trouble. Kicked outta every school from Pre to High...so I joined the navy due to a court order but you can imagine what happened...I got kicked out. So I got on this crazy grind, state to state, sellin everything. One day I was in La, Cali...I used to stay downtown on 5th and main. Anyway some traumatic and supernatural events took place that made me change my life and want more out of it. So now I spit hope to the hopeless, but I dont wanna spoil the music so just check it out.