Album Review: Captured by FLAME
I was both suped and little nervous about this project. Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of faith in Flame’s abilities as an artist. It’s just that with his previous two releases, the “Our World” duology (lol a three-part series is a trilogy, but what do you call a two-part one?), I think he created CHH classics. I was worried about how this new album would measure up. However, while it is different, I think this might be the most personal-feeling of Flame’s projects thus far, which is fitting because it is the first release on his own label, Clear Sight Music. Flame always has stood out to me as a very passionate emcee who clearly puts his heart into every track, and he’s already given the listener glimpses of the man behind the music in his previous projects (e.g. song about porn problem, song about growing up on section 8, etc). Nevertheless, in “Captured,” he seems very intentional about letting the listener see more of how Christ first drew him to Himself. While I have copped several of the other major recent releases from CHH artists, this one has been getting the most plays from me lately. The moving lyrics, solid scriptural content, great production, the message (of no longer being captive to sin and instead being (re)captured by Christ), and overall cohesiveness of this album make it worth multiple listens.
1. “Recaptured” is a great start to the album…it really captured my attention (womp womp…sorry). Musically, the beat starts out pretty simple and builds up, getting more intense as more layers are added. In his flow, Flame matches this increase in intensity until, by the end, I was nodding hard – both to the smangin’ beat and in agreement with the lyrics. He begins the album with confession, honestly airing our (including his own) selfishness, pride, laziness, and other sins. By the end of the song I was so moved by the message and the beat that I was pumped for the rest of the album.
2. “Surrender,” the first single from the project, is a melodic collabo featuring V. Rose. The hook is very catchy and the song is very easy to listen to. I personally would have liked to hear a little more of Flame on the track; he raps relatively little. In fact, I think V. Rose dominates the track to such an extent that it almost feels like Flame is the featured artist on her song. In his defense, I do think putting out vocal-heavy songs is a widespread trend in hip hop right now.
3-5. “Power,” “Nonsense,” and “Alive” are solid musically and lyrically. Personal details and stories make it easier for the listener to relate and thus make the songs more moving. This part of the album really feels like testimony time at church. You hear specific things that God has done in Flame and others’ lives. I love the hook on “Nonsense,” (a sample from This’l’s verse in Trip Lee’s “Twisted”). As a minor note, I find the chopped and screwed part of the hook in “Power” slightly annoying, but that’s just me. Otherwise, I really like these jawns.
6. “All I Need,” is a nice change of pace; its smooth beat provides a nice backdrop for Flame to share some more personal stories that illustrate how he has come to know that God is all he needs. Guest artist Chris Lee merks the vocals as he’s been doing on every song on which I’ve heard him featured. My little brother actually put me up onto his solo stuff, which is def on point. Check it out at http://www.chrisleecobbins.com/.
7. “Move” knocks. Period. I bump this song all the time on the train to work. (You should see the looks I get as I’m standing there bangin’ my head while rocking business professional attire.) Furthermore, the message (of moving when God tells you to) has been challenging me to think about specific areas where I’m not moving in obedience.
8. “Put On.” Love the hook on this song. This will probably offend some people and I probably will catch heat for this statement, but the beat slightly reminds me of the beat for Lloyd’s “Beamer, Benz, & Bentley.” However, the challenge to put off old sinful habits and walking in the new life in Christ is the exact opposite of anything you will hear in a secular song.
9. “Double Back” stands out, esp. for its message. The imperative of helping rather than giving up on brothers and sisters in the faith when they fall is both timeless and timely. It is timeless in that the apostles found it important to admonish the early church about this same thing 2000 years ago (Galatians 6:1, James 5:16) . It’s also a very timely message in light of the recent public scandals and the subsequent restoration of close contemporaries of Flame in the CHH movement. I was very impressed by the first verse by This’l on this collabo. Not only does he effectively use vivid illustrations of brotherly love from his own personal experience on the block to convict the church for slacking in its commitment to struggling members, but his flow is on point. This verse is no fluke – This’l has been going hard for a minute now, (see e.g., another recent song, “Twisted” on Trip Lee’s Between Two Worlds and “Anger Management” on Lecrae’s Rehab: The Overdose). The theme of supporting each other as well as the very fact that this song is a collabo makes me think about how much growth I can observe in both Flame & This’l’s music since the first time I heard them on a track together in the song “Truth Travels” on Flame’s self-titled debut album. I can’t help but think that their relationship illustrates that “Iron sharpens iron…” (Proverbs 27:17).
10. In “Captured Me” Flame again teams up with singer V. Rose. This song allows the listener to reflect as the album draws to a close. I like the balance between rapping and singing in this song much more than in “Surrender.” And just to clarify, I have nothing against V. Rose – I’m actually really glad to have been introduced to her through this album because she has a very nice voice.
11. “Daniel 10” is an interlude/snippet of a sermon by Pastor Ryan Fullerton. While at first I was disappointed that one of slots on the already short project was taken up by an interlude, I must say that this interlude has really got me thinking about prayer and fasting (an an often neglected discipline). This is an interlude worth listening to (more than once) and not skipping. [You can download the full sermon HERE]
12. “Tonight” ft. J.R. helps to bring everything to a close with worship and a re-commitment to surrender all to Christ, not later, but “tonight.” I definitely could picture this song being very powerful at a live concert. Even just bumping it in my stereo headphones, I feel the urge to close my eyes and soak in the words, letting them become my own personal prayer of re-dedication.
While Our World Redeemed still remains my own personal favorite Flame album so far, I’m very pleased with his latest effort. My two favorite songs are “Move” and “Double Back,” but all the songs are solid. In the span of just a few weeks, I have listened to this album all the way through with no skipping at least a dozen times during my hr-long daily commute. My biggest disappointment with this project is its brevity, especially after I had been waiting 2 years for new music from Flame, but I do feel that album packs a potent, musical and spiritual punch. You can buy it from the Clear Sight Music website or on iTunes.
For anyone else who has listened to it, what do you think? Feel free to disagree with/critique my opinions.