Release Date: November 4th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Keep Going (feat. Capital Kings)
- Star Track (feat. Josh Zegan)
- Rise from the Ashes
- Award (feat. Paige Bryan)
- Elevator Doors
With the shake up of both Pablo and Blanca leaving Group 1 Crew (G1C) prior to 2014, Manwell and his new band members in Group 1 Crew are still bringing us great music, and with G1C releasing the first EP out of three (#Faster) in August 2014, it’s time for #Stronger to make an impact, releasing to stores last week Tuesday. While I may still need to get my head around Pablo and Blanca not being in the group anymore, Manwell continues to make things interesting with both EP’s providing us with a stunning plethora of guest vocals, from Rachael Lampa and Jonathan Thulin, to Moriah Peters, as well as Capital Kings, Paige Bryan and Josh Zegan who lent their vocals on this new EP.
With a new EP slated for February 2015, Group 1 Crew continues to remind us all that it’s never too late to reinvent a band and bring out a message equally as strong, vibrant and unique as it was prior to the member shake-up. With G1C continuing to impact listeners of their music from all over the world, #Stronger is a great album to listen to if you are a fan of Manwell’s rapping, or if you enjoy rap/hip hop music a la TobyMac or Lecrae.
Starting off the EP with a rousing anthem in “Keep Going”, Manwell reminds us all to keep moving and running the race as we press on and move forward to what Christ has in store for us. The combination of G1C and Capital Kings is as perfect as anyone would expect when hearing a rap/hip hop song, and with an electronic flavour to bring in listeners of dance/EDM music, “Keep Going” is a great standout on the 5 track EP that’ll hopefully encourage listeners of both Christian and mainstream music alike to listen, to not only this song, but hopefully encourage further listening to G1C’s discography. With Gameboy sounds and some great rapping skills by Manwell, we are met with encouragement in how ‘…I do this for the kids who every day, they feel stuck in a bad situation, full of frustration, feeling so low at the bottom…’ A great way to begin an EP that’s certain to bring people to the strength of God that can help the situations we find ourselves in, “Keep Going” is one of my favourite duets since Britt Nicole and Lecrae’s “Ready or Not”.
Singer/songwriter Josh Zegan features on “Star Track”, a song that can be absurd when you first hear the track (a song about space, stars, planets and space travel and you wonder where the Christian message is, if at all), but as you delve deeper, we see the poignant meaning of how we ought to move to the star track- which is God being in our lives and us fulfilling the purpose He loves and longs for us to believe in a travel towards. With light electronic keyboards and a more of a synth sound compared to “Keep Going” or anything on #FASTER, Manwell and Josh bring us a melody for us to ponder about, as we strive, with God’s help, to be more like Him in each day we live.
“Award”, the last track with a guest vocal (this time with vocalist Paige Bryan, ex-member of Press Play and daughter of comedian Sinbad), brings the theme of awards and striving to front and centre as we ponder ourselves- are we looking for recognition in awards or in something else- hopefully in God who is much more eternal and satisfying than temporary gains. A song that challenges us with light strings and a pop atmosphere that we need God in every point of our life, both “Award” and “Star Track” give us strong duets for us to enjoy as #Stronger continues to be a great follow-up to their August project, in about every way. The project also delivers two G1C only tracks in “Rise From the Ashes”, a CCM radio friendly potential second single melody that encourages us to ‘…don’t let doubt, don’t let fear, steal the promises you hold. God is with you in the fire, you will never be alone…’; and EP ender “Elevator Doors”, another keys driven track that gives us a reminder that ‘…life is more than rapping…’ and how sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones that influence someone else’s life in a radical way before we can say we’ve lived a life worthy to be declared good.
With the reinvention of themselves and their infusion of CCM, pop and rap in their 2012 album Fearless, #STRONGER EP, alongside #FASTER earlier this year, are no different. Despite the loss of Blanca and Pablo, Manwell still steadies on to deliver 10 songs (Faster and Stronger are both sold together in physical Christian bookstores) that are certainly going to become pillars musically, sonically and lyrically when listeners point to songs that’ll highlight their new journey without Blanca and Pablo. A great way for exposure for Paige Bryan and Josh Zegan, this new offering from a band that has virtually been quiet in 2014, is sure to gain some attention, buzz and popularity as they release another EP in February ahead of their #WEARETHECREW full length album sometime in 2015. With standout songs like “Rise from the Ashes”, “Keep Going” and “Elevator Doors”; this is an EP certain to be enjoyed and liked by fans of any style of Group 1 Crew music, or music lovers who want to have some fresh uplifting rap/hip hop/pop music to enjoy. Well done Manwell and the rest of the band for giving us something to dance to and enjoy. Bring on #POWER and their new album #WEARETHECREW later on in 2015!
3 songs to listen to: Keep Going, Rise from the Ashes, Elevator Doors
RIYL: Lecrae, TobyMac, KJ-52, Trip Lee