Carriers of the Cross
There’s new movement in East Coast hip hop territory, and it comes courtesy the youthful four-member NJ-based crew, Carriers of the Cross.Producers: Ben deCido, Remix
album release date: October, 2001
Full independent and weighed down with quality from album cover to liner notes, beats, concept and the always-crucial lyrics, on their debut self-titled 14-tracker, Carriers nods to peer crews such as The Cross Movement, yet remain true to their own style and calling.
Remix and Ben deCido handle beats and mixing; Prophecyer and Rizenson spit out meaningful, sincere and deeply scriptural rap flows. Together the potency is high, with track dosing consistently heavy in rich and organic orchestrals. As is always a bonus, Carriers has a blast in putting it all together.
Scan to track four for a perfect example. You’ll find yourself jabbing your finger the air to the syncopated bass beat that defines this cut, titled “It’s On Tonight”. Jersey-accented flows on this Christ-centered celebration encourages the immediate revelling in God’s word, to ‘sharpen your sword and fight to praise the Lord of Life”.
“Where Ya At”, dense and aggressive, presents a similar call. The poetic backgrounds of Carriers serves them well here, as it does through much of their material, with creative, fast-flowing rhymes evident. Beginning darkly but quickly transforming into an upbeat invitation for saints to represent, testify and be seen, the track is driven by furiously-working strings.
Diziple shows up with DJ scratches on “Carriers”, and Darlene Camargo drops the crew's theme via occasional vocals over this self-defining cut ("Carriers bringing hip hop to the cities of the saved saints...and the lost"). You don’t often find harpsichord marking hip hop, but that's what you have here; Remix and Ben deCido make it phat and make it work.
Moving to the tracks feauturing guest MCs, it needs to be acknowledged off the top that it’s likely that Carriers could have made this project well work all on their own no outside help needed. Yet they enhance the experience by bringing a trio of new jack MCs aboard, showing unity in the process, and making you appreciate it all the more.
In fact, this crew is the first to drop in The Process. On “Lyrical Battle” the multi-syllables fly back and forth between Carriers and Christianos and L.P. the Doulos of Philly's The Process. The title describes not so much a war waged between the artists (although the style is definitely there), but rather describes the spiritual battle through the testimony of our lips lyrics. Firm symphonics support the track.
“Rumble” serves as another call for war-footing in the concrete jungle of urban environs, and features Haj with Rizenson and Prophecyer on mic handling this rap written by Jesus Hernandez.
Two notes back and forth intro “How Dare You”, as guest duo Hazakim tag-teams with the two mic-carriers from Carriers. Over those same two notes, with dry snare frequently cutting in, speaks prophetically to those living in secular hiphop, warning about the dangers of blasphemy in lyrics and in lifestyle.
That’s only touching the depth on this album. As Rizenson himself says, “some tracks make your neck hurt and there are some tracks that will make you think twice on how you are living life”.
Couldn’t put it any better ourselves.
Carriers of the Cross Ministries
reviewed by Stan North —
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