Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review of Dillon Chase's BDFFRNT

After listening through the album several times, I decided to write an in depth review of Dillon Chase's new CD project, BDFFRNT.

I have followed Dillon Chase for about 3 years.  To this day, two of my all-time favorite songs are "Weak" and "Strong" from his "Weak" album.  His style is a smooth hip hop with a good combination of poetic lyrical content, instrumentation, and a pop feel.  I don't know the technical term for his rap style, but I like it.  Raw, but not too raw.  He is Calvinist in theological understanding of scripture, but he doesn't hold it in the forefront of his music.  I can tell he has matured as a Christian over the past few years, which is evident from his lyrical content, as well as his efforts to provide for his family while finishing a degree, keeping up with the demands of writing/recording/performing new Christ-centered music, while keeping his family front and center.  

His newest project BDFFRNT shows a maturity from former projects both in the creative content of the songs and the lyrical content.  Highlights for me are BDFFRNT, Even in the Dark, and Deeper Still.  BDFFRNT sets the tone for the record, beginning and ending with John Piper samples admonishing Christians to be in the world but not of it, to be salt & light, to be different from culture.  Dillon has the gift of being able to articulate and annunciate his words clearly, while speaking very quickly in cadence (the essence of rap).  Dillon tends to talk about his upbringing a lot in his music, (his testimony), which walks the listener through a world of hurt and pain and drugs, to a world of hope and forgiveness and love, and grace.  He has a deep awareness of his own sin, and a gratitude for Christ's relentless love and mercy and grace that can never be exhausted.  The longer I live, the more I understand that a person cannot truly be saved without an understanding of their own sin.  And the greater a person understands their own sin, the greater they know the power of the cross.  This theme comes across in BDFFRNT.  

"Even in the Dark" is a ballad featuring Braille.  The song actually sounds like something Beautiful Eulogy could sing, and having Braille on the song was brilliant.  The song is an acknowledgement of God's sovereignty; that God uses the dark for his glory, and "even in the dark, You are light, even in my wrong, You are right".   This song is a great encouragement for me, and should be for many others.  There are tones of the doctrine of justification in Braille's verse, and the Gospel can be found packed inside this song.  

I think "Deeper Still" is my favorite song on the album.  The piano intro is great.  The chorus is sung (Thaddeus) and really adds to the song, in my opinion.  "deeper still, the pain I feel, I wanna go deeper still, with You".  This song is an encouragement to go deeper into a relationship with God, "stepping out" on a limb, so to speak.  "You won't release your clinched fist, because your love is relentless" is one of my favorite lines of the album.  The song builds into kind of an anthem, with the honesty of a man who knows he is weak, but has tasted the mercy of God, and wants more.  I'm listening to it as I type, and have to push away the tears.  After all, how can we ever talk too much about God's mercy and grace?  

"Dreams" starts out reminding me of the theme song to "A Beautiful Mind".  Again, this song retraces parts of Dillon's life, and again, the story ends at the cross.  It flows well, and was another 5-star song for me.  

"Me and You" is a unique song that talks straight to Dillon's fans.  He essentially says "I care about you" even though he can't take time to meet with, or talk to, or reply to all of his fans.  I saw a tweet where Dillon said he was getting positive feedback from the song, and had wrestled with whether to include it on the album.  I'm glad he did, because it is a good gesture, and a good witness.  The song shifts toward the end from "me and you" to "you and him", which is an excellent way to end it.  Who better to direct people to than Christ?

My least favorite songs on the album are Wow, Space Bars, and Fade out.  They are the more upbeat songs, so it mostly just reflects my taste.  They seem to be a little lighter on the theological content, though the same themes are there. 

Overall, I rated eight of the 14 songs five-stars, one four-stars, three three-stars, and two one-stars.  I highly recommend the CD, and encourage people to look at the songs as mini-sermons.  Try to pull out the content, test it against scripture, and then apply it.   

Soli Deo Gloria,

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