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THE RINGLEADER (2003)
The Ringleader - Click to view! DJ Maj is on a mission to connect Christ-centered hip-hop into the new millennium where club culture reigns supreme. Touted as one of the finest Christian club deejays in the biz, Maj brings the party to his third in the mixtape series, The Ringleader. The Ringleader is the Almighty, creator of the earth and everything in it—including hip-hop. Maj pays Him due honour on the title track, accompanied by a dazzling live band and Out of Eden lead Lisa Kimmey. The Creator is the focus of this new joint, with a concerted effort to get people on the dance floor.

Of the 21 efforts available, some of the best include 4th Avenue Jones' return on "What You Want" and LA Symphony's synth-driven club tune "Never Heard Before." Sev Statik delivers the catchy "All For A Purpose" and even Maj steps to the mic over crunchy guitars and handclaps with "Attack." However, some tunes try to force themselves into the pop radio format, such as the Maj remix of Toby Mac's "J-Train." This track will get folks dancing but screams cookie cutter. Other sub-par tracks include the "Ooh Aah remix" from GRITS, "So Excited" from Verbs and Shonlock, and Camp Quest's "Number 1 Contender." The latter track uses a groove found often on BET to encourage worship, but lines like "Shake your money-maker / dancing for the Saviour" are far from inspiring.

The biggest surprises from mixtape #3 are the smooth and very accessible R&B songs that are included. Each tune delivers crucial messages to the teen culture while adding some sweet vocal sugar to help the medicine go down. Antonio finally gets some front work as he discusses the battle with temptation on "Under Pressure." Out of Eden are feisty females fighting for respect with their clothes on (note to Christina) with the sleeper hit "Showpiece." Jason Eskridge gets passionate singing about Christ's deep love on "A Friend."

With all these good elements, this CD pales to past efforts. Several underground emcees perform short freestyles that give this album the appearance of a "true" hip-hop mixtape, but they unfortunately add to its lack of substance. Several key groups were missed this time around and while it's great to hear Maj rhyme on some tracks, the presence of other artists could have provided more balance. The DJ's track mixing cannot be denied as excellent, though he has less material to work with. If Maj wants to continue hitting the mainstream, hopefully the next joint will showcase ALL of the big names and musical innovators.
- Jon Corbin
January 2004
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