Christian rapper Gleam Joel preaches from the mean streets


Reviewed by Howie Mitchell

Gleam Joel/The Call

Christian rap has, if you pardon the pun, received somewhat of a bad rap in the hip-hop community. A large part of this is because there’s so much mediocrity in the genre, and the lyrics are often critical of the bad-boy rap lifestyle, making some people self-conscious. What Gleam Joel has done on The Call is bring the streetwise authenticity of rap and fused it with a Biblical message. There are some heavy beats here, such as on the title track which slams hard against the pavement. Yet what Gleam Joel is trying to convey is incredibly positive. He returns to his old gang-infested neighborhood, beaming with his newly-found discovery of the Word of God.

Gleam Joel is not being preachy. You get the sense, from the seemingly autobiographical lyrics, that he’s speaking from experience. When Gleam Joel is attacking drugs on “Life Is Short,” it’s not a simplistic Nancy Reagan-era “Just Say No” theme. He rails against the drug dealers that tear families apart, leaving kids dead in their wake. There’s no holding back in Joel’s words; they are fierce, honest, and brutally realistic.

I don’t know how some rappers will take to “Hip-Hop Is Dead,” which openly chastises the commercial and secular rap scene for their glorification of violence. Actually, Gleam Joel takes it further than that, slamming wanna-be gangstas for romanticizing thug life while they’re living the rich life and their fans are dying on the streets. This is intense and very real music; whether you’re Christian or not, you will be affected by it.

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