Rufus Troutman III’s debut CD is a noteworthy achievement for all the right reasons.Producer: Rufus Troutman
album release date: June, 2001
Prime among them is the fact that No Comprise is chock full of some of the tightest, funkiest, slammin’, all-out Gospel jams to be heard this so far this millenium.
Equally crucial is the fact that this is Gospel’s first exclusively talkbox or vocoder-based project. Coming from a distinguished funk legacy, Troutman continues where his famous uncles left off...and then some.
It was the late Roger Troutman (Roger & Zapp, Roger) of “More Bounce to the Ounce” and “Computer Love” fame who was instrumental in cementing the acceptance of the unique vocoder effect into contemporary R&B and funk.
The younger Troutman turns the whole thing around by using the technology to glorify Jesus Christ, once again proving that little-known quote from Oscar Hayes "God made us funky".
Or in the much more well-known words of Kirk Franklin, "...if you think that Gospel has gone too far...".
Passing his voice through an assemblage that incudes a keyboard and breathe tube, Rufus Troutman delivers a vocal sound that combines the synthetic with the human vocal cords. These days, that’s not necessarily unique, because any artist serious about synthesizers and related musical output is bound to have a vocoder included in the equipment rack.
Where Troutman excels, however, and what distinguishes him from the pack, is that this is his lead instrument, and that he has an amazing knack of transferring his fiery personality to the effect, avoiding the sterility that can so easily plague the sound. Based in Dayton, Ohio and sporting the familiar costuming of his funky uncles in concert, the younger Troutman is contagion to head bouncing, riotous praise.
Headlining the No Compromising album is the smash single “New Life” that finds itself on an album after literally years of heavy spins by DJs who were able to get their hands on the independently-released single. Giving glory to God for allowing us to reconnect with Him through Jesus Christ, the song has a neck-snapping, bounce-infested track with never-stop talkbox praise all the way through.
That’s far from the only seriously groove on the disc however, with “Work It Out”, “What a Friend”, “Grace” and the dangerously driven “Make You Dance” also flinging the head-bop meter off its dial. And in case you’re thinking it’s all about the beats, you find the ministry deep with an anointed lyricism that touches the soul.
As a very simplified explanation, vocoder technology uses ‘sound filters’ to process incoming soundwaves.|
Predefined frequencies are first filtered out, leaving only narrow ranges, which are then processed and recombined to give the characteristic ‘computerized speech’ or ‘synthesized singing’ sound that the instrument is known for.
On two songs, Troutman shows that he also has an abundance of vocal skills. Laying aside the talkbox briefly, he imparts a buttery, sweetened tenor soulfulness to “Brokenheart”, where he sings of the mastery of Jesus in mending the broken heart. The title track “No Compromise” is a testimonial smooth gem that Troutman caresses with vocal ease, making it an instantly memorable both for its gorgeous melody and the intensity of the message.
Other tracks of note are Troutman’s version of “Amazing Grace”, a soft tribute to his uncle Roger, and the get-down-on-your-knees hip hop drive of “Drop Down”, featuring rapper Cal-G.
Gloriously diverse and incredibly original, this project from Rufus Troutman already belongs in the highlight annals of Gospel music.
Shabak Records / Marxan Records
reviewed by Stan North —
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