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Human Emergency - Click to view! The Cross Movement is well known as one of the groups that legitimized gospel rap to a mainstream audience. Their first record, Heaven's Mentality, took CCM listeners by storm: here was a group rapping entirely about Jesus Christ with no apologies. The difference between this group and previous artists who had made such an attempt was that these guys were actually good. Through their diligent work, this Philadelphia crew proved to North America that Christians had a place in the hip-hop industry. They have received attention from many media outlets including The Source magazine. House of Representatives, the CM's second release, included new members and displayed the crew's steady improvement. These holy hip-hoppers have brought their tightest, well-rounded and most diverse effort to date in Human Emergency.

On this disc, there is a stronger effort made to portray the human emergency theme. During the three interludes, the group members act as emergency response personnel replying to a "John 3:16" emergency declared on the first track. There is also an obvious evangelistic challenge on this record given to all those who call themselves Christians. This approach keeps the Movement fresh, responding to concerns that simply rapping about God will get redundant. Instead, the Cross Movement continue their progression, speaking boldly to every area of culture. The song "On Right Now" is a great example of this, as lyricist Ambassador calls out Christians who aren't living a godly lifestyle:

"When a believer sins you better believe it's in contradiction / To his divine commission and his God given position / It's hard picking the Christians, they're living like the planet is / Is real scandalous like a Jerry Springer panelist."

Blunt challenges like these are what make the Cross Movement so effective in evangelism. However, it is their tool of choice that has improved greatly on this album.

The Ambassador, Tonic, Enoch and The Phanatik round out the emcee lineup for this record. Missing from the group are the recently departed Cruz Cordero and Tru-Life (who makes a production effort for Human Emergency). While the Ambassador has been the standout lyricist in the past, even producing his own solo album, each emcee pulls his own weight, giving a balanced feel to the record. The opening four songs speak to their individual improvement and would make an equal splash in the club or a church youth group. ("The Light", "Hold It Down", "C to the R" and "On The Move") Other strong tracks include the Ambassador's "What Do You See", a haunting picture of Christ's crucifixion, and the Tonic's efforts "Live Agua" and "Creature Double Feature". The best song on this album and quite possibly one of the best posse cuts ever made (I'm serious here folks) is the song "Know Me." The CM has always been known for its head-nodding east coast beats, but on-the-rise producer Lee Jerkins reaches into his bag of tricks and pulls out a West Coast track that no one can resist dancing to. The CM surprise everyone, especially their critics, by showing the world that they can rhyme over it too.

"Do we truly know what the Lord cares about / Let alone his where-abouts / God's not in these places where people think faith is / Coming to the Lord with their hands stuck out/Remember the Lord dismissing the droves / Cause they only came for the fish and the loaves"

With that opening verse, Enoch initiates a blistering barrage of words as the Movement breaks it down West Coast style. This song was an instant hit and is so good it can already be called a Christian hip-hop classic.

There are weaker moments to Human Emergency. With the improvement of the Tonic and Phanatik, songs from the Ambassador fade slightly into the background, as he seems to defer to his partners. Also, the female singers used in tracks like "On Right Now" and "Love Life" do not fit the mould of the song and provide fairly lame hooks. Finally, the Earthquake produced "Lord?" is a disaster as guest rappers M.O.D. have nothing solid to work with. The track is a flop that breaks up the flow of the album.

Overall, Human Emergency is a tremendous success. The Cross Movement have shown that effective ministry combined with excellent music is a possibility and raises the bar for all Christian rappers. This CD should be made available in every youth group as an indication of the increasing quality of Christian hip-hop.
- Jon Corbin
July 2002
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