Review Summary: Manafest continues to meld rap and rock with a glorious album that sets the precedence for the emcee's peers.
Manafest has come a long way in his last eight years of emceeing. Beginning his career with the promising Misled Youth, Manafest showcased his remarkable freestyling skills. But he truly marked his territory in the Canadian hip-hop scene with his second and last indie release, My Own Thing, deftly delivering a message of nonconformity and representing God's domain with 19 tracks - a feat generally unheard of for a demo. He developed a strong underground following in no time before signing with BEC Recordings and becoming a Christian rock hit with the internationally distributed Epiphany, with two radio hits, "Let It Go" and "Skills."
Now, he comes to us with his most ambitious release to date, the aptly titled Glory, with all the glory going to the Spirit "manafested" in him. While My Own Thing showed a rock edge, and Epiphany further represented it, Manafest has found his niche between hip-hop, pop, and rock here, crossfading the flow and lyrical capability of Eminem
and Talib Kweli
(if not superior), with the rock edge of Limp Bizkit
, Linkin Park
, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.
and Vanilla Ice
's previous indie work, and occasional classic pop fun in the vein of Michael Jackson
, Duran Duran
, and Family Force 5
Opener "Don't Turn Away" cleverly begins with Manafest repeatedly spitting a rhyme from last album's "Let It Go" to a guitar riff, before delving into a rap reminiscent of Mars ILL
's mouthpiece manChild, which is contrasted by Justin Humes' anthemic chorus, giving an effect similar to P.O.D.
's recent collaboration with Matisyahu
, "Roots In Stereo." "Impossible" (featuring Thousand Foot Krutch
frontman Trevor McNevan) is similarly effective but also unmistakably recalls Linkin Park
, while "Wanna Know You" is similar to Limp Bizkit
and the fun "Retro Love" wisely treads 80's post-punk territory. But Manafest shows off his knack for storytelling most effectively when he reveals past issues in "Runaway" and "Where Are You." And he doesn't forget his hip-hop roots; check out "Bounce," "Droppin' Hammers," "Dreams," and the ingenious "Critics" featuring Promise and Divine Trinity and produced by That Brotha Lokey.
This disc's one flaw" Brevity. 11 tracks is awfully short for a rap disc. Thankfully, the record's 40 minutes of music are always well-used, making Glory quite concise. That doesn't keep it from leaving you begging for more, not that that's necessarily a bad thing - Manafest's last record dropped scarcely a year ago, and I can hardly wait for his next release.