Juzo has leveled up.

I first heard of the musician and visual artist when I reviewed his first EP, ANIMA 01, in early 2021. Since then, Juzo has clearly settled into a sound all his own with the release of his sophomore project, Dystopia 02, in September of this year.

Juzo continues to communicate with listeners in a deeply personal way in this next entry to his story. “This project stemmed from a very dark season of my life where I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness,” the musician said on Instagram. “There were many hardships and circumstances that led me to doubt my long-held beliefs, and through that birthed a foreign sense of bitterness and resentment.”

Through the narrative of Dystopia, Juzo manages to do what many Christian artists have struggled with: tell a story that includes a hopeful, redemptive ending without pretending to have found all the answers. “Lead me to you through these voids I tread / ‘Cause I know my faith has been lost in dread,” Juzo sings on the last song from the project, “Deus Ex Machina.” “I feel like nothing; searching for something.”

Track Listing

  1. The fallen / N-01R 魂
  2. Monster (feat. Shxrda)
  3. 99 But a Reverie
  4. Zone.
  5. Idols:Re
  6. Deus Ex Machina

Standout tracks for me include “The fallen / N-01R 魂” and “Monster.”

“The fallen / N-01R 魂”

This track sets the tone for the project masterfully, painting a picture of the world we’re entering almost like an audio-only short film. According to the liner notes, this track features additional vocals from a host of other indie CHH artists, from Lazarus! to Emmanuel LKD. If someone asked me which Juzo song epitomizes his style, I’d probably recommend this one.

“Monster”

Easily the catchiest song on Dystopia. Driving drums and bright synths combine with dark chords to mirror the lyrical content. Juzo plays a lot with using different vocal textures to shape the narrative, and a feature from Shxrda helps to that end.

 

To quote my past self, “Juzo’s songs are refreshingly original, masterfully crafted, and very personal. The branding and soundscaping of the album are on point.” All these details are still true, but if ANIMA was an experimental venture, Dystopia is the fruition of those experiments.

Even though Juzo’s style doesn’t quite mesh with my usual day-to-day listening habits, I like this project more with each playthrough. I believe that any listener will benefit from giving Dystopia 02 a spin.

Check out Dystopia 02 below and let us know what you think of the project! Find tracks from Juzo and more on our [FReSH PiCKS] YouTube playlist!

 

Steven Malcolm "Cardio"

Steven Malcolm has flows as vibrant as his drip in the official music video for Cardio.

The SALT Productions-directed visual showcases Malcolm’s undeniable star power.

The music video follows the September 15, 2023 release of the single. Cardio will appear on Malcolm’s forthcoming studio LP. Ramping things up with the video, Steven Malcolm explained the thoughts that went into creating both the record and the visual…

“I wanted to make an anthem I would have listened to in the high school locker room before a big game,” shares Malcolm. “This song is all about owning the greatness that results from hard work and dedication.”

The visual encapsulates Malcolm’s favorite things: Christ, dance, exercise, fashion, and fellowship. His pizazz legitimizes his aim of becoming CHH’s next crossover emcee.

About “Cardio” by Steven Malcolm

Cardio‘s fiery anthem follows Malcolm’s monstrous bop “Monster” which featured UK Christian trio LZ7.

The rising hip-hop heavyweight pounds the pavement with a dose of motivation to inspire listeners to rise above life’s biggest obstacles.

“We all have a race to run. To be great and keep keeping on takes two things: a little inspiration and cardio!”

Cardio is available now on all digital platforms. The energetic track sets the tone for Malcolm’s next album.

Preparing for the next Steven Malcolm Album

Poised for release in early 2024, the Michigan native’s next studio LP is the highly anticipated follow-up to his familial 16-track project, Tree. ‘Tree’ recently received a 2023 GMA Dove Award nomination in the Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year Category. The nod marks Malcolm’s seventh career Dove Award nomination.

For more information, visit www.stevenmalcolm.com

Elohin 'El3vate'

Elohin has reached veteran status within the independent faith-based hip-hop scene.

The Detroit emcee’s newest album releases on September 12, 2023 via CF Entertainment.

El3vate offers a mix of hard-hitting beats, cinematic production, and lyrical sharpness. The theme of the album is centered around overcoming adversity and rising to a new level in life and faith. The 12-song project features the singles “Safe Space,” “Bloodline,” “Mood,” “Secrets,” and “Up.”

El3vate’s sound is a mixture of Hip Hop with elements of Trap, R&B, Pop, and Jazz. The soundscape was crafted by legendary producer DJ Pain 1 along with sadCG, Falak, Komo Beatz, Othellobeats, LT, Blasian, and Miraql3. Every lyric, melody, and musical element creates an interesting and dynamic sound. It is an ambitious and exciting listening experience.

Album Features

For many listeners, the guest artists on a project are just as important as the primary artist.

El3vate not only showcases Elohin’s lyrical abilities but features several of indie CHH’s heavy hitters. Kidd Lee, Xay Hill, Kevi Morse, Bella Raee, Sam Heavens, and Jess Aleakatino all bring their unique talents to the project.

Track Listing

  1. El3vate (Intro)
  2. Ready
  3. Mood [ft. Kidd Lee]
  4. Ghetto Blues
  5. Safe Space
  6. Fade [ft. Kevi Morse]
  7. Secrets [ft. Bella Raee]
  8. Dying For [ft. Sam Heavens]
  9. Bloodline [ft. Jess Aleakatino]
  10. God Is God
  11. I Feel It
  12. Up [ft. Xay Hill]

Reflections

It’s rare to find an artist who is brave enough to discuss life, faith, and social issues while at the same time appealing to commercial, boom-bap, and faith-based audiences. These rare combinations come together perfectly in the music of Elohin.

Consistency has long been a characteristic of Detroit’s Elohin.

With El3vate he delivers a complete project from start to finish. There are records to connect with a multitude of listeners. The soundscape transcends eras as Elohin blends progression and experience with the skillset of a master. From trunk-shaking low-end to body-moving melodies, it is inspiring to see the bar being raised when it comes to independent Christian rap.

Standout tracks include “Fade,” “Mood,” “Up,” Bloodline,” and “Ready.”

About Elohin

Born and raised on the Eastside of Detroit, Michigan, Elohin (pronounced El-oh-in) fell in love with music at an early age. Since then, he has independently released multiple full-length studio projects and EPs along with collaborating with other established artists and producers. His delivery, lyricism, and songwriting ability can capture the ears and hearts of many hip-hop fans and music lovers alike.

For more about Elohin, check out notyouraveragerapper.com

This past weekend, I had the immense pleasure of being able to attend (alongside my DINO NUGGETS co-hosts) the third iteration of indie tribe’s SMOKE! Festival. And let me tell you: I can’t recommend it enough. It was a movie.

“Started makin’ movies, now we don’t know how to act.”

The first night of festivities featured a range of talented acts, many of which I hadn’t seen live before. A standout was Jon Keith’s performance. EREMOS is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year, and hearing songs from it live was an incredible experience. The combination of synth-heavy tracks with incredibly vulnerable lyrics and striking but minimalistic visuals made Jon Keith’s set one of the most memorable of Friday night. Plus, the whole rest of indie tribe rushed the stage during “CHOSE,” sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“If you only take two things away tonight… You don’t have to be lonely alone. And God loves you more than you could ever know.” -Jon Keith

The first night of festivities finished out with an electrifying performance by Seattle-based alternative rock band Kings Kaleidoscope. It’s clear that they’ve honed their craft over years of shows. One indicator of this was how brilliantly the band utilized colors and lighting as part of their set (fitting for a band with “kaleidoscope” in their name). Finishing Friday night off by playing through all three parts of “The Rush,” Kings Kaleidoscope left this writer overwhelmed with emotion.

After the show was the VIP afterparty, starting off with the customary SMOKE! Cypher. DJ Mykael V facilitated the scene over two beats while emcee after emcee blew the audience’s mind. Did I mention this took place in a skate park? Truly an amazing scene to witness. Each artist melted the mic, but even amongst these giants Aable’s verse was something special.

 

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As if the cypher wasn’t enough, we were also treated to Pass the Aux, where artists played unreleased music. 350 played a song he did in collaboration with Torey D’Shaun that he said will never be released due to uncleared samples. Mogli the Iceburg knocked our socks off with an unfinished track from his hyperrock project. DJ Mykael V played a track featuring John Givez that he said was from a 2018 album called Pinocchio Story that will never see the light of day. Torey D’Shaun had to get Jon Keith to help him turn off his iPhone notifications that kept interrupting his song, and nobigdyl. spilled some details on his next album.

Day one easily would have been worth the price of admission, but Saturday brought even more great music! The day kicked off with a Block Party outside the venue featuring vintage clothes, coffee by Cxffeeblack, a live DJ, and more. Alexander, Daniel, and I elected to use part of our time at the Block Party to record a live bonus episode of DINO NUGGETS.

While the Block Party continued outside, fans crowded into Rocketown’s indoor skate park, where the festival organizers had built a stage. I personally only caught Mogli the Iceburg’s set, and I’m glad I did. Experiencing Mogli’s unique brand of indie rock while packed into a skate park with hundreds of other enthusiasts was quite the experience. (Check out the 5th photo below)

 

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After getting some lunch, we forged ahead into the main lineup of music for the day. Battz kicked things off, but his was no forgettable opener. I knew that I expected Battz’ music to be some of my favorite, stylistically, but I didn’t anticipate just how much he would be able to animate the crowd, especially once Aaron Dews joined the stage. (Definitely hoping to see a lot more collaboration between those two in the future.)

 

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A post shared by Aaron (@aaron.dews)

Derek Minor’s stage presence was impressively commanding–I loved that his band included live trumpet and electric guitar. The RMG rapper played a few songs off of his upcoming album, alongside several throwbacks.

I got to hear The New Respects for the third time, and they were incredible as always. The flow of their setlist stood out to me as especially well-put-together. They, too, played an unreleased song, and I’m always impressed by their drummer Darius’ ability to play and sing at the same time.

WHATUPRG also had an exceptionally well-organized set. Last time I saw RG perform was on the Unashamed Forever tour, where he put on an amazing show, but Saturday’s show was next level.

Probably the solo set I was most excited for was nobigdyl.’s, and it paid off. The bassline in “Lighter Fluid” felt like it would punch me through the floor, and dyl.’s decision to use an AI-generated clip of Obama’s voice as the transition from “President” to “PARABOLIC!” was brilliant.

 

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This was personally my first time at SMOKE!, but when indie tribe finally took the stage the energy was as high as I would’ve guessed. Anybody who doesn’t think God is doing big things through the tribe hasn’t been to SMOKE!. “This is shocking to people, but we always knew this culture was here,” nobigdyl. said in between songs, to which the crowd responded by chanting “JESUS. JESUS. JESUS. JESUS.”

“Say I won’t come all the way to Nashville to support one of the dopest music festivals.” -Lecrae

After performing several of the top songs from last year’s Church Clothes 4, Lecrae’s set honestly felt more like a blessing over the event with songs sprinkled in. The two-time Grammy winner exhorted artists to be faithful to what God calls them to and charged fans with supporting the movement indie tribe is at the helm of.

“You don’t get no extra rewards in heaven for selling the most albums. You don’t get no extra rewards in heaven for winning Grammys. You don’t get no extra rewards in heaven for selling out shows. All those things are fine, there’s nothing wrong with them, but the motivation is the difference. … So just be faithful to what God put in front of you, y’all. … It don’t mean don’t be a good steward; it don’t mean don’t work hard. But it just means, at the end of the day, life on earth is just preparation for the next life.”

Lecrae may have been the last artist listed on the schedule, but indie tribe had a surprise in store. The mysterious “Still Holy Premiere” listed on the Saturday schedule turned out to be the debut of a new song called “Still Holy,” and, much more notably, the addition of a new official member to the indie tribe: Torey D’Shaun!

Obviously there’s a lot more that happened at SMOKE! Festival 2023; these are just a few highlights that stand out to me as I reflect a few days later. One thing I haven’t mentioned is the incredible sense of community I felt as I interacted with artists, content creators, and fans alike. One aspect of the festival that I didn’t consider beforehand that I enjoyed immensely was getting to meet in person many musicians, writers, and graphic designers who I’ve known for years, but only online. By the time the weekend was over, I was wiped, but SMOKE! Festival 2023 was a highlight of the summer (and even the year) for me. You can bet that it will take a lot to keep me from being there again next year.

iNTELLECT "I'm Sorry"

iNTELLECT and Mitch Darrell Seek and Find the Forgiveness We All Wish For

“Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” [1 Corinthians 1:7-9]

What is it that you need? We are told not only to ask but to keep on asking and we will receive that which we ask for. Doors that are closed will open because our God is a good father. Even in our worst moments, He stands ready to forgive when we look to repent. He was prepared to endure even death on a cross if it meant that reconciliation could take place. How can we not tell Him that I’m Sorry?

“The way this song came together is a testimony of God’s faithfulness.”

On August 18, 2023, iNTELLECT and Mitch Darrell collaborate with Christian Rap legend Dre Murray to release one of the duo’s most important records to date.

“From the depth of the message in everyone’s lyrics to having a legend like Dre Murray hop on the track, this is definitely one of the more special songs I have been a part of creating.” – iNTELLECT

I’m Sorry is nothing short of straightforward hip-hop in the genre’s most traditional sense.

No hook is needed as the three masters apply their craft overtop of production from Dax Hamma. The sound bites chosen in place of a chorus tie together the song’s theme as each emcee uniquely approaches its message. Not only do the vocal stylings of iNTELLECT, Mitch Darrell, and Dre Murray support one another throughout the track, but they include just enough contrast to take I’m Sorry from being “just another song” to a true piece of art.

Every Christ follower endures seasons of struggling to balance a promised peace and ownership of the role we played in Jesus’ sacrifice. The good news is that the atonement of our sins has already taken place. We are able to move forward with confidence and truth.

I’m Sorry is a must-add to inspirational playlists. Make sure to save it now!

Support iNTELLECTInstagram | Facebook | Website

Song Details

  • Title: I’m Sorry
  • Artists: iNTELLECT, Mitch Darrell
  • Release Date: August 18, 2023
  • Label: Polished Arrow Music
  • Production: Dax Hamma
  • Engineering: iNTELLECT
  • Features: Dre Murray

Allen Thomas 'The Triumph'

Allen Thomas has dropped his second project of the year.

 “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” [Romans 8:37-38]

One of the hardest things in life to do is to show grace and mercy to someone who is undeserving of it. To forgive and to love someone who is not repentant of their actions. But this is the character of Christ. Despite what we are worthy of, He calls us his own and pleads on our behalf. Is there anything more incredible or unbelievable? Yet, all that is asked is that we believe. When we embrace truth we get to experience The Triumph over this world.

This is music from a place of victory.

Allen Thomas and Noah Surratt collaborate to illustrate this theology on their new 5-song EP. The Triumph hits digital streaming platforms on August 15, 2023.

“I was hopelessly headed for defeat, without a glimpse of chance for a comeback. But thanks be to God!” – Allen Thomas

After moving to San Antonio, Texas, Thomas and his wife attended the church where Surratt led worship. The duo began developing a relationship and soon teamed up on the record “Mercy.” Originally released on Thomas’ 2020 album ‘The Least Greatest,’ the song has not only been given new life in 2023 but became the catalyst for an entire project.

Featuring production from RJ Full Range and Lazy Rida Beats, The Triumph is a well-conceived EP from start to finish.

Life is not without purpose. It is a battle that will have a winner and a loser. While some may choose to turn a blind eye to this, Allen Thomas and Noah Surratt address it head-on. One thing that is safe to say, anyone who listens to The Triumph will walk away clearly understanding what’s at stake.

The project is more than just an important message. It is packed full of attention-grabbing beats and highly-skilled vocal performances. From lyrical artistry to melodic runs, The Triumph features a variety of soundscapes to connect with a wide audience. It is truly a rare example of getting a “big bang” from a “small package.”

Make sure to add “Mercy Remix” to your favorite playlist!

Support Allen Thomas: Linktree | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Project Details

  • Title: The Triumph
  • Artist: Allen Thomas
  • Release Date: August 15, 2023
  • Production: RJ Full Range, Lazy Rida Beats
  • Engineering: RJ Full Range, Jacob M. Productions
  • Features: Noah Surratt

Track Listing

  1. Mercy
  2. Betty Crocker
  3. Warrior
  4. Battles
  5. Mercy Remix

Dex the Nerd Who Loves Jesus "Sermon on the Mount"

Dex the Nerd Who Loves Jesus Draws Inspiration from The Beatitudes for New Single

“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.” [Matthew 5:1-2]

During his time on earth, Jesus had a unique way of drawing people to him. The people were eager to hear his words. As he traveled, the crowd that followed him continued to grow larger. The masses were ready for the message that He would share with them. Those same words are needed by society today. Here’s the amazing thing, those who call themselves sons and daughters are able to spread that same Gospel and are called to do so.

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority – quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”

Releasing on August 11, 2023, Dex the Nerd Who Loves Jesus shares the truth that Christ taught during the Sermon on the Mount.

From “The Beatitudes” to “The Golden Rule,” the greatest sermon ever preached was able to simply and effectively speak into all areas of the lives of those who have heard it. Dex takes this inspiration and rhymes confidently over production by Praise.

Utilizing scripture-driven samples, Dex paints the picture of being in the presence of Jesus on the mountainside. Sermon on the Mount is a straightforward, focused record that fulfills its intended purpose. To give hope and understanding to a world that is lost.

Support Dex: https://linktr.ee/dexthenerdwholovesjesus

Song Details

  • Title: Sermon on the Mount
  • Artist: Dex the Nerd Who Loves Jesus
  • Release Date: August 11, 2023
  • Label: Polished Arrow Music
  • Production: Praise

If you like Sermon on the Mount, check out the latest project from Dex here.

About Dex the Nerd Who Loves Jesus

For the Christian, this world isn’t a luxury, it’s a battlefield and war isn’t easy. God is in the business of transforming lives. As a new creation in Christ, Dexter, transformed by the Holy Spirit, changed his rap name as well as his focus.

Dex began to see that it was less about the music and more about giving glory to God, reaching the lost, and edifying believers. Dex has 15 years of experience in music as a producer, rapper, and creative director. He has been the creator and director of several labels and his mission is to share the Gospel through music, and art.


Hello everyone! Thank you for tuning into the 21st installment of The DIVE Series*.

Firstly, I apologize for not posting on the 20th of last month. Moving forward, I will do my best to be more on top of these installments.

Today, I will DIVE into Torey D’Shaun’s 2022 single CATFISH, featuring nobigdyl.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ‭‭- Romans 12:1-2


About the Track

Torey D’Shaun‘s single CATFISH featuring nobigdyl. has over 971,000 streams on Spotify, making it the 5th most popular track by Torey D’Shaun. The track was released on April 29th, 2022, and was produced by the music production duo WEARETHEGOOD made up of Wes Writer and Quinten Coblentz.


Interpretation of the Track (Part 1)

The following is the Intro of the single:

“It’s been Boopie, y’hurr me?”

If you’re unaware of what this means, allow me to break it down. Boopie is an endearing slang term primarily used to describe a female significant other. Synonyms of this word include “shawty,” “honey,” and “baby.” “Y’hur me” is a short slang phrase meaning “You heard me.” This is essentially another way of saying “you feel me” after a sentence to emphasize what you’re saying.

Now, the widely-known slang meaning of “Boopie” itself actually has little meaning in the Intro of this track. As seen in Rapzilla’s July 2018 Q&A with Torey D’Shaun, his mother called him “Boopie” as a child. I think the woman on this track is trying to emphasize that he’s been “Boopie” since he was young.

Torey begins the meat of the track with the Chrous and Post-Chorus, respectively:

“Jesus’ peace in my heart, you can’t snatch this (Nah). Holy Spirit in my soul (Common cold?), you can’t catch this. Old me, is that you? I need glasses (Huh). I done looked up in the mirror, almost ended up gettin’ catfished.”

“Who is that? (Who is that? I don’t look like where I’ve been). Who is that? (It’s been way different since God been my friend). Who is that? I don’t know, but I’m attracted. Who is—who is—who is—catfished.”

In the Chorus, he speaks about the peace of Jesus being in his heart. This directly correlates with John 14:25-27, which states,

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

In these verses, Jesus informs his Disciples how the Father will send the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ Disciples no doubt received much comfort due to Jesus saying this. Whether they knew it or not, they could (as well as Christians can today) fully trust the Spirit and have peace in Jesus because they can fully rely on the Spirit to lead, guide, and teach them.

Jesus says that the Father will send the Holy Spirit in His name. Given this, the disciples could fully trust the Spirit as we can rely on the Spirit to lead, guide, and teach us in every situation.


Interpretation of the Track (Part 2)

Torey then hits us with Verse 1 of the track:

I woke up with a mission. Solve the case ’cause the old me missin’. When I praise different, uh (Sheesh). Breakin’ through the ceilin’, uh (Okay). Devil make a killin’ (Yes, sir). I’ma make a livin’ (No way). For wakin’ up the children (Okay). Why they on that with me? (Okay). Oh, they mad ’cause now I’m groovin’. Keep it funky with me. Is my mirror lying to me? Almost faded away, but it weren’t Kobe. Time don’t stop when you wit’ your Rollies. I was in the state when You had to show me, yeah. Ankle monitor, holdin’ my day one. He was a heavy stepper wit’ a metal leg. We was extra, yoked up heavily. I was the deviled egg, tryna cook up whatever. The devil said, headed for the Feds. In the (Dead of night). Don’t look like what I’m supposed to (I don’t). Come close (I don’t), catfish, it send me social (Okay). In this, in this, in this, in this.

Torey “woke up” with a mission to share the love and grace of Jesus with people through the Gospel when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He mentions how different his old self was before the Holy Spirit transformed him into a new person.

He continues in this verse about how one of his goals is to make a living by waking up the children. In other words, Torey wants to work heartily unto the Lord by spreading the Gospel to people in a loving way, thus “waking them up” spiritually with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

One line in this verse I personally found quite interesting was, “Time don’t stop when you wit’ your Rollies.” I believe he’s conveying that Rolex watches (or Rollies) might be nice, but they don’t have any value in an eternal and spiritual sense. If you have another idea of what Torey is attempting to convey in this line, please comment below and let me know!

I also found it interesting how he raps about being a “deviled egg,” explaining that he was doing what Satan preferred him to do before Jesus saved him. As a potential metaphor, he said he was headed for the Feds, meaning he was sinning habitually.

This first verse is essentially about Torey’s perspective on his old self and how his old self is unrecognizable to him now. This difference was caused by his accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior and being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The Chorus and Post-Chorus run a second time before nobigdyl.’s verse…


Interpretation of the Track (Part 3)

nobigdyl. finally comes in Verse 2:

If God don’t like ugly, how you explain me and my buddies, huh? Did so much dirt right after church, my slacks muddy, huh (Wow). She was lookin’ real lovely, never mind that it’s Bible study (Whew). I was huntin’, lookin’ for Boo like Mike and Sully, then I heard suddenly (Yeah, okay, ayy, ayy). God say “Stop, what is you doin’?. Like look what I taught, wearin’ that crucifix” (“What is you doin’?”). “Made you My image and what did you do with it?” (“What did you do?”). “Used it to cheat when I asked you to steward it” (Still the truth). “You went and Judas’d this, so now I’m mercy. I’m gonna move and I’m comin’ like Ludacris” (“You fool”). “You act a fool with the words in your mouth. And I still didn’t roll out, now let’s get to the root of it” (Yeah). Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is that? “That’s the new you” (Who’s that?). “Sword of the Spirit, I’ll put it right through you” (Ooh). Holy water stream, hop in it like Hulu (Okay, alright). Now you Mushu, holy fire through the Bluetooth title (Whew). YouTube idol, SuWu, child of God (Whew, whew, whew). Defiled, redeemed, eternity in my smile. In this, in this, in this, in this.

nobigdyl. brilliantly begins his verse by emphasizing that God loves us despite us being sinners (explained in this verse as being spiritually ugly). I like how he mentioned a problem every Christian has dealt with: Going to church on Sunday and sinning habitually during the week.

nobigdyl. continues the verse by rapping about how he struggled with trying to find a significant other too quickly, and he ended up cheating. He references Genesis 1:26-28:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.”

In this passage of Scripture, God creates humans, making them in His image. Since we were made in his image, we were made to be stewards of the Earth and our bodies (temples). Being told to be fruitful and multiply by God had stewardship implications that consist of doing so in a way that honors and glorifies God (such as not participating in sexual immorality like cheating on your significant other with another person).

So according to this verse, God told nobigdyl., “[You were] made in My image and used it to cheat when I asked you to steward it.” nobigdyl. ends the verse by rapping about how God saving him changed him spiritually beyond belief and how the Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word/The Bible) allowed his eyes to be opened to Jesus’ grace and love.

Now, just like Torey D’Shaun and other Jesus-believing folks, nobigdyl. is unrecognizable spiritually when compared to when he was not saved.


DIVE Conclusion

CATFISH by nobigdyl. and Torey D’Shaun, produced by music production duo WEARETHEGOOD, is a track with nearly 1 million streams on Spotify.

It is important to remember the Bible passage of the day of this installment and the themed Bible verse of this single we talked about today:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ‭‭- Romans 12:1-2

This CHH (Christian Hip Hop) single is about being transformed spiritually by the Holy Spirit as a result of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The song’s general theme conveys that many spiritually mature Christians in their relationship with Jesus feel like they can’t recognize their old selves before being saved or earlier on in their faith walk with God.


Thank You for Reading DIVE!

Thank you for reading this far into the article! I hope you all enjoyed this installment of The DIVE Series* on FiveTwenty Collective. Again, my apologies for not posting on the last scheduled day for The DIVE Series*, but be sure to tune in for the next installment dropping on the 5th of next month (September 2023)!


About The DIVE Series*

In this series, I DIVE into the precise and potential meanings of Christian Hip Hop singles, albums, and EPs.

In Special Edition installments of the series, I interview the artist(s) involved for the whole meaning of their art.

Thanks for checking out today’s edition of FiveTwenty Collective’s DIVE series! I drop a new installment of this series on the 5th and 20th of every month (except on Sundays).

God Bless,

DJ Expander

**Listen to the full CATFISH single at the end of the article!**

Want more content from The DIVE Series? Check out the previous article now!

Pacaso Ramirez "Juggernaut"

Pacaso Ramirez Announces Maxi-Single Featuring Two New Records

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:8-9]

When we are passionate; when we believe fully; when we clearly see the “why” behind a cause, there tends to be little that can keep us from pursuing an end goal. This faith in the ideal makes us bold. Bold people are strong. Not because of physical strength alone, but due to the reassuring power of conviction. Determined and focused, we become overwhelming and an unstoppable force…a Juggernaut.

Juggernaut is a persona, a characteristic, that is untamable and can’t be kept behind closed doors. Someone that you can’t hold back or hold down. Someone that you can’t control, nor can you stop.

Pacaso Ramirez Is Back Like He Never Left

On August 4, 2023, Pacaso Ramirez makes his return to the faith-based hip-hop scene with a new maxi-single. It is in preparation for his first album in three years.

“There’s a fire that resides in us all. There’s that old saying that ‘if you can’t go over it, then you go through it.’ This is the characteristic that the Lord has given me since birth. It’s how I carry the message of the Gospel.” – Pacaso Ramirez

Juggernaut is the lead single from Pacaso’s upcoming project that is currently set to release during Q3 of this year.

It is a high-energy record meant to empower believers with the truth of the Gospel while holding tightly to the words of Christ. Featuring Adamental, the Project Pluto-produced track makes for a great re-introduction of sorts for Ramirez whose last single, “Wait On It,” dropped in 2021.

Beyond the excitement that surrounds releasing new music, this drop has some additional meaning behind it for Ramirez.

Bonus Record

August 4th is not simply “New Music Friday.”

It is also the birthdate of Ramirez’ mother who went home to be with the Lord in January of 2022. In celebration, Pacaso is releasing a song that he wrote for her as a bonus track on the maxi-single of Juggernaut. “To give life to my emotions and my feelings in the moment of losing my mom was impossible, still impossible,” explains Ramirez. “Being able to use the gift of song that God has given me to be able to translate those feelings into something written and recordable is a blessing. I pray that this song may give life to the thoughts and unsaid words of those that are dealing with the loss of their mom as well.”

“Easier Said” is available alongside the instrumental and acapella versions of the Juggernaut maxi-single which is a Bandcamp exclusive. “I wanted to give listeners the ability to experience hip-hop the same way I did when I was growing up,” explained Ramirez.

The original single of Juggernaut will be available starting August 4, 2023, across digital streaming platforms. It is a perfect addition to any Hype and Empowering playlists.

Support Pacaso Ramirez: Twitter | YouTube | Website

Song Details

  • Title: Juggernaut
  • Artist: Pacaso Ramirez
  • Release Date: August 4, 2023
  • Production: Project Pluto
  • Engineering: Sagashi Shitsuyo
  • Features: Adamental

C.J. Luckey "Welcome to the Table"

C.J. Luckey is releasing his first new music since 2020 and the wait is well worth it!

With a new album set to release on September 1, 2023 (which you can pre-save here on Spotify or pre-order here on iTunes), Luckey has dropped the title track Welcome To The Table along with an official video for the record.

Still not fully removed from the height of the COVID pandemic, Welcome To The Table addresses the experiences of the last few years.

C.J. Luckey Taps Into an Overlooked Truth

With mask mandates in full force, it was difficult for many people to feel comfortable around others. It seemed like there was nowhere you could go in public that was normal. Judgment and fear always lurked. We were told that we couldn’t trust that we were safe which led to people becoming disconnected. But there was one place where relationships could grow.

Coming together at the table, even in a public setting, was the one place you could go and take off your mask.

You may have had to wear a mask to get there, but The Table unmasked all of us.

Vulnerability, Transparency, Relationship, and Community could all be found around this gathering place. With Welcome To The Table, C.J. Luckey reminds listeners of an open invitation to come and be seen.

Thoughts on C.J. Luckey’s Newest Record

As with any music that Luckey releases, there is an educational aspect along with high-level execution.

From the beginning of the record, the tone is set to usher back in one of the amazing artists of the CHH space. A solemn and simplistic guitar progression is met by Luckey’s deep and attention-demanding vocals. He quickly paints the setting of the story as we are brought into a dinner party hosted by none other than Christ himself. Despite our shortcomings, we are not only welcomed but expected. We are told that we need to get over criticism of ourselves and enjoy the gift in front of us.

Previous Luckey collaborators From A to Z hold down a melodic chorus that perfectly captures the record’s essence. Not only does the table offer an experience, but a fresh start is also present if we choose it.

In the second verse, C.J. no longer speaks from a place of doubt or shame. Instead, he embraces and boldly speaks God’s truth for listeners. Some truth may be difficult at times, but “Great are the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. At the end of the day, we all face adversity together. We are more similar and connected than we realize. Once we come to realize that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can begin to come to terms with our flaws.

Jodi Jackson’s Feature is Special

The final guest artist on the record is Jodi Jackson.

With soft yet powerful melodies, Jackson brings a verse to Welcome To The Table that completes the record. I do not say it as an obvious statement. Rather, I truly believe that the song would be incomplete without her contribution.

From the instrumental breakdown that delivers her opening notes, her passion and heart are felt. She effortlessly resonates the message that Luckey has shared throughout the earlier portions of the song while putting her own touches on its presentation. It is a well-crafted segway back into the final chorus.

Wrapping It Up

Welcome To The Table is certainly a highlight of 2023 personally.

It is great to have new music from C. J. Luckey. The record definitely establishes expectations for the new album as a whole. I’m looking forward to the varying sonic experiences it holds as well as following the story’s arc from start to finish.

How do I know there are elements of story throughout the album? Check out the interview with Luckey below to find out more…