MUSIC MUST-HAVE: Stephen The Levite – The Last Missionary
Stephen The Levite offers another biblically sound, lyrically sound endeavor for our edification and enjoyment. Ever since I heard Stephen for the first time, I was drawn in to his art. He has a unique sound to his voice, versatile flows and lyrics that make you pay attention. The First Missionary is no different.
First of all, the cover art is phenomenal! I would expect to tune into the Funimation channel and see a show based on the cover alone. I bought a manga art drawing software for my daughter at Christmas, and I have been trying to render myself as a manga character ever since . . . This cover speaks volumes to the essence of what I have been trying to capture. Kudos to the artist (I’m on a mission to find out who is responsible for this)!
One of the things that I enjoy so much about listening to Stephen The Levite is the fact that his albums are deliberate. It is so refreshing to hear an album that has been planned out to convey a certain message and feeling; and then, every track is arrange on the album to support that plan.
There are sixteen tracks on the album in total. This is one of those rare occasions where not only can I enjoy all sixteen tracks; but, I am perfectly happy putting them all on repeat. The musical styles are eclectic enough to have something for most everybody; and yet, they seem to blend just fine. Even the one track that I am tentative on, is done well and fits nicely into the puzzle. With that, let’s get into the meat of The Last Missionary . . .
- The First Missionary: The production on this is phenomenal. It is reminiscent of a lyricist lounge type feeling where heads are gathered in the cypher and just spitting. But above that, the non-stop flow of the lyrics is almost hypnotic as we are taken from the beginning to the garden to the first mission. I put this one on repeat several times in order for it to absorb completely.
- Give It Up: This track boasts of the classic sound that I have come to associate with Stephen The Levite. Again, if you appreciate lyricism and delivery, this track does not fail to deliver. The message is very clear – God has given us gifts, treasures and talents, we need to give them up to His glory on the mission field.
- Voltron: Okay, so he already had me at the title because I was a Voltron geek when I was in middle school. I have to admit, the production on this track was totally unexpected; however, it works. Stephen, Mac The Doulos and Zae Da Blacksmith come together using the analogy of Voltron to describe the unity of the Body
- My Wife’s Soundtrack: Obviously a play off of My Life’s Soundtrack, this is a love song dedicated to his wife. Musically sound, Stephen goes through how he met his wife and the process of how they became one in Christ as husband and wife.
- Fight Club: MuzeOne joins Stephen on this track. I think these guys complement each other nicely both lyrically and stylistically. I am not a fan of the production on this track; however, the testament to the success of this song is the fact that Stephen’s versatility is quite evident.
- Commissionary: This is an introspective type of a song – one that gives you the feeling of examining your own situation as it relates to what Christ has done for us so that we may live in Him. It is not very long – just over two and a half minutes. He could have easily gone on and the integrity of the song would endure; however, it works just as it is.
- Dividing Lies: In his classic teaching form, The Levite teams up with S.O. to attack the myths and lies that run wild in Christianity and cause division amongst the body. The track is simple, and for good reason. The lyrical content takes center stage in this one. This is another one that I had to repeat so that I could absorb the full content.
- S.O.S: Call it an extension of My Wife’s Soundtrack . . . Another smooth type vibe definitely on the love song tip. Wes Pendleton graces this track along with Stephen and the two pay homage to their godly women. Probably my second favorite track on the album behind The First Missionary.
- Wrote It This Way: Timothy Brindle is back! Add Hazikim and now you have one of the most theologically sound hip-hop tracks that you will ever hear. The track is unique in that you get the feeling that the collaborators are rhyming over an extended intro; but again, it works!
- Temptation: The Levite deals with his internal struggles over this classic soul-filled track. I heard a leak of this before the album was released and it has been on repeat in my music player ever since. It’s just one of those tracks that you can relate to in some way, shape or form.
- Enter: Missionary: As a child of the ‘90’s this track immediately sparks a sense of nostalgia for me. Even though it is an ‘intermission’ of sorts, it is heavy on the cuts (a welcome, but seldom heard element in hip-hop today thanks to Average Joe) and on word play. Definitely a boom-bap favorite.
- Rehoboam: Named after the King of Judah, a son of Solomon and grandson of David – Stephen correlates issues of today’s generation to the issues that Rehoboam faced. Not only does he teach, he also brings about a call to action which is consistent to who Stephen The Levite is.
- Deadbeat: As the title insinuates, this track addresses the lack of godly men in our communities, in the home and in the church. Because re-establishing the role of the male is something that I am very passionate about, this song resonates with me.
- Reign & Rebellion: The familiarity of the soulful track is an immediate draw for this song. Leah Smith graces the track with her vocals towards the end of the track which flips it into an almost neo-soulish type of vibe. A very nice blend.
- Beauty & The Beast: The story of Christ and the church; and, how they came to be one. Whenever I can listen to a song and have a visual picture of what is happening in the song to form in my mind, that is a sign that the song is well thought out and highly effective. This song does just that.
- The Last Missionary: The church is the last missionary! This finale wraps the entire album up into one summary and seals the deal on the whole thing.
Overall, I would rate The Last Missionary as 4/5. This is definitely one that you will want to add to your collection. As with his previous offerings, Stephen The Levite does not disappoint. His teaching coupled with his lyrical ability and delivery are what makes him stand out in a genre that sometimes struggle to self-identify. But don’t take my word for it – get a copy for yourself and take a listen. I highly recommend it.