Music Review: Nu Age Soul by Phil J.

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October 12, 2017
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Music Review: Nu Age Soul by Phil J.
Phil J. - Lotto (Official Music Video) @Iamphilj

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Track Listing

Right Now
The Bottom
Life Goes On
Everybody Knows
More of You

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In 2012, his strong interest in becoming an artist became a growing reality. He released his first mixtape, "The Sponsor" and garnered a good bit of attention. Every since then, his growth has become evident as an artist. With every project he's released since then, they've all had different sounds. Phil J. doesn't consider himself a rapper nor singer, but a culmination of both. He's been cultivating his style of music ever since 2012 and is confident he's found a sound no one else has. 

He prides himself on taking risk when creating music, even if it's a complete curveball to his listeners, but that's what excites him the most. The process in creating different types of songs forces him to push the envelope as an artist, songwriter, and producer. The fruits of his labor have awarded him recently. He was just named a Rapzilla Freshman of 2017, always wanting to be a part of a freshman class. He's now looking to bring a new sound to the industry.

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Nu Age Soul by Phil J
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Personal Rating 

There are a lot of copy-cats out there, even in the Christian music world. Cookie-cutter rappers that want to capture someone else's sound but with a slightly different lyrical lilt. I am pleased to tell you that Phil J. is not one of them. He has some very original ways of showing his art to the world. This 7-track EP is an excellent example of his off-the-wall style rap and hip-hop blend.

The project kicks off with "Right Now" which, overlooking the slightly amateur opening sounds, is a great social commentary of what we see around us in life, including a comment on the black lives matter / all lives matter outrages that happened earlier this year. Full of cultural references this is reminding us that this world needs a change, and ultimately we need Christ. Some artists are hard to listen to when they are making a point, but this is easy on the ears with the tone of both the music and the content. This is the case all the way through this release - there are some harder critiques of society but wrapped with a soft humour and clever crafting which encourages the listener to at least give it a listen through.

I much prefer the quirky opening to "Lotto" than the previous track. This song is "dedicated to the haters" but this is aimed at those in positions of authority in church who are happy when people are putting money into the offering, but not when he presents the truth in his style. "Everybody Knows" also brings a song for his 'haters' and this one is laser pointed straight at those in the church taking aim at him for the way he portrays himself, when he turns the tables and asks them to look at themselves. This opens that can of worms about how some traditional church-goers see those who are trying to express their faith in a way that is relevant to their culture. Again Phil J. does this gentle rebuke with a tongue in cheek, but are there still Christians who can't appreciate the need to become "all things to all men that by all possible means, I might save some" - oh and by the way that was something that Paul said about himself. Today I went to my local Cathedral with a 4 year old boy just to look around the building, I had just bought him a cap, as we walked in a lady tried to sell us a £3 cathedral 'guidebook' and asked the boy to remove his cap! I'm a Christian, I understand the idea of removing a hat, but it still put my back up - when are we going to learn that we need to accept people the way God does? God accepts us just as we are - he also doesn't direct us to the 'gift shop'!

Using humour to make a great point is "The Bottom" which shows different points of life and how it is how you start, that will be how you continue, so if you start at the bottom with integrity and wisdom it will be easier the further you go to act with those same character traits. I have to say that the first verse here is a killer and does a great job with the humour.

This whole project is very real - it's real about life, how other people in church tradition view those from another tradition, and about the struggles that sometimes we have with our doubts about our faith - and whether God has really forgiven us, even though we mess up! The joy of singing about his creator is evidenced by the lightness and hope that shines through this release. Phil J was named a Rapzilla Freshman and these sounds and styles giving a very listenable, challenging and humorous EP show why he was selected.

If you like some light and easy hip-hop then Phil J. could be your man to listen to! He's most definitely a communicator with a brilliant way with words, the music, beats and quirky nature of the backing really works well bringing together an excellent project. Maybe it's not as 'street-talking' as some might like, but this sits nicely in it's niche and will appeal to those in the church music scene who like to think of themselves as edgy.

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