Is he the most slept on emcee in Christian hip hop?
Is he one of the more talented artists that you may not know?
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Easily an early front-runner for indie CHH Project of the Year, In the Ruins of Dreamland by A.K.A. Fisher is a tour de force listening experience. A self-proclaimed “unusual LP”, while it may not fit perfectly in the current CHH mold, what it does is craft a very enjoyable mosaic. With high-quality level production across several genres, Ruins leaves little doubt that Fisher is an artist (in every sense) that you should know.
The project is themed around an abandoned amusement park.
The rusty, weather-worn gates attempt to contain a combination of conceptual album and autobiography while remaining Christ-centered.
A.K.A. Fisher is the CEO of indie imprint Tentmaker Music. Ruins features labelmate Old Man Xero in addition to a strong lineup of guest artists. Featured contributions for the album include KJ-52, HeeSun Lee, Xay Hill, ASAP Preach, Wrecktify, GiGi of AFTL, BRM, Average Joe of Meek Heroes, and more.
Whether you’re into straight hip hop, rock, gospel, or a combination thereof, Ruins has the goods to engage those interests.
“This album is the breath of fresh air we did not know we needed. The very essence of who God is is weaved into these words and melodies. [It] is a journey filled with deliverance, breakthrough, healing, and closeness with God.” – Denisse Burks
The reason that I have really enjoyed this project is pretty simple.
Fisher is able to not only share his God-given talent in a way that relevant and connectable, but he also is unabashedly out front with his music’s purpose. It is always refreshing to find an artist who tells me, as a listener, why Jesus needs to be at the heart of their music instead of trying to convince me why “not every song has to be about Jesus”.
It is clear during the 17-tracks of Ruins that, as Fisher explains, “trusting God enough to let go of what we thought we needed” is the over-arching theme throughout.
From catchy hooks (“All That”), rock riffs (“Funhouse”), and even spiritual gun-bars (“Shooting Gallery”), Ruins runs quite the gambit of content narratives.
Beginning with the lead single “First Things” (featuring ASAP Preach and Xay Hill), the album delivers a powerful welcome to guests. It is a reminder of what the main thing is as we embark on this experience. The listener is put on notice before entering “Through the Gates”. The second track, featuring Wrecktify, is a standout record that throws back to early 2000s hip hop.
One thing that Fisher does, rather impressively, is present gospel phrasing in a way that is modern. See the hook for “Good Intentions”. “I know I meant well/tried to make a way instead I paved a road to Hell/told myself I’d only play the hand I was dealt/but I only played myself/built my castle high on shifting sand so thunder when it fell”
We find similar wordplay in the hook of “All That” which also features Wrecktify.
The second half of Ruins includes several of the longest-running times you are sure to find. Especially in the CHH space.
“Long Way To Heaven” (featuring Deon Gladney and Autumn Star) clocks in at 6:14. Even while encompassing the timeline of three songs, by modern standards, the composition of these extended tracks are done in a way that maintains attention. Fisher stretches himself as an emcee. He is able to share his prowess as a composer. It is clear that God blessed him with a gifted ear.
Another of the top records on the project comes in the form of “Shooting Gallery”.
Fisher collaborates with CHH legend KJ-52 as well as Old Man Xero on the hook. Spiritual warfare and “killing demons” was once a mainstay in the genre. In recent years, the culture has shifted to a focus on vibes but the trio makes it clear that the enemy remains steady with its purpose. “To these demons the name of Jesus sound like click-clack/power and authority in hand watch the kick-back/knock ’em down, light work, big facts/cock-back, aim, hit ’em between the eyes wit’ a knick-knack”
Is In the Ruins of Dreamland a perfect album?
The obvious answer is “No”.
However…it is extremely well done for an independent project.
I would find it hard for any fan of Christian Hip Hop to listen to this album and not be impressed with what was accomplished. That is not an overstatement.
A.K.A. Fisher needs to be recognized in this space. He’s innovative and energetic. He is unashamed. Most importantly, he is about as down-to-earth as you will find.
It’s easy to say that I’m a fan!
I’m not often one for putting a score on an album. If I was to do so here, Ruins would easily be a 9/10 for me.
Check it out and hit the comments to let me know if you agree!
- All That
- Shooting Gallery
- Diddly Squat
- Lights Out (It’s Like That)