A War To Restore

He calls himself Dirt. He cloaks himself in imagery that reflects the ultimate in humility, lowering self and continual lifting up Jesus Christ as the only Way.

This hip-hop artist offers unique thematic stylings and deep scriptural philosophies on his sophomore project, A War To Restore, his first on Syntax Records.

Dirt CDThis is no light rap snack. No, it's an atmospheric adventure which never departs from the edgy, exploring myriads of influences, including alternative and rock and folk. Dirt's flow is always tight, with an intriguing accented and rather semi-slurred delivery.

Lyrically, the exploration hits on the prophetic, the sermonic and the apocalyptic. You sense that as fast as you try to understand Dirt's perspective, the faster he's moved onto another level.

The Shadow of the Locust crew (they take their name from the scripture in Joel 2), moves with Dirt on this record and accompany him in the same sombre tone as his own solo forays. Several guests (including 7lock, Messenger and Golden Child) are also in lock step with him.

Seventeen tracks make this project hefty. We'll only sample some here:

"Essence" strikes with it's resonant rhythms and 70's style organ and vibes from GoldenChild and turntabling from Mike Czech, all simmering underneath Dirt's explanation of who he is.

Shadow of the LocustAnother notable cut is "Holy Burn" which is a seriously severe praise, with it's request to God to "sterilize me until my soul becomes pure". On "Saving Private You" the obvious cinematic reference is turned to point to our own predicament without Jesus Christ.

Searing Dirt's message further is the liberal use of live instrumentation (drums, bass, guitar) and looping acoustics.

It bears repeating —this is a deep album. One listen certainly won't get you down with what's he's saying. Take your time with it. Digest. Only then will you understand this new covenant and dreadlocked rabbi.


Producer: Jesse Sprinkle
album release date: Fall 2000
Syntax Records

reviewed by Stan North

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