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Factors of the Seven - Click to view! FACTORS OF THE SEVEN (1997)
I picked this album off the shelf as a cassette way back in 1997. Back then, the only knowledge people had of Gotee Records was of their budding R&B trio Out of Eden. Yet here was this group Grits who labeled their new album Factors of the Seven as "The Most Innovative Hip-Hop In The Industry." That was in the days when LL was still moving, KRS was screaming I Got Next and Will Smith was trying to rap without cursing. Nevertheless, the product I held in my hands was shocking. Grits was fresh off of their first record Mental Releases which drew little attention from the Christian industry. However, hard work combined with many talented players produced a record light years ahead of their previous effort. The genre of Christian hip-hop hasn't been around for very long, but Factors of the Seven can easily be called a classic. Not merely a Christian classic, a hip-hop classic.

So what makes this album so great? Simply put, its smoothness. Factors goes down easy, bringing a formula of delicious beats and thought provoking lyricism that is cool enough for the average fan and deep enough for the hip-hop head. Not only has the album introduced many people to the hip-hop genre but it has also made Grits in big name in the industry.

The production, handled by relative no names Todd Collins, Ric Robbins and Mo Henderson, does not want for anything. Robbins (a.k.a. Mr. Max, a.k.a. DJ Form) brings his A-game on the turntables providing some fresh life into a (then) dying hip-hop element. We have seen many groups since then try to incorporate the DJ sound into their music. How refreshing to see that Form and Grits were ahead of the game. Todd Collins, who has produced for KJ-52, John Reuben and Out of Eden, does a great job on the beats and live instrumentation. Collins shows himself to be an underrated producer, as does Mo Henderson, who worked on arguably the album's best song "Ain't Sayin' Nothin'." He also collaborated with Grits emcee Teron Carter (a.k.a. Bonafide) on "What Be Goin' Down," "Gospel Rap," "Ghetto Love" and "Blame It On You."

While every song is excellent, a few of the best must be noted. "Mirage" stands out as a subtle warning to everyone about the fallacies of appearance and the deception of perceived beauty. Stacey Jones, a.k.a. Coffee, writes, "you people are getting distressed with your best dressed contests ... you fail to see that what you do reflects on all of us / the hypocritical citadel is what they're calling all of us." "Comin' Home" features the musicianship of dc Talk band member Otto Price. This song is the hip-hop version of the prodigal son story from Luke 15. "Hopes And Dreams" will get people dancing for years to come. This track features Gotee labelmates Knowdaverbs and Joy Kimmey (from Out of Eden). "Ghetto Love" is a smoothed out tune that attempts to break down misconceptions about life in the ghetto. Bonafide's heartfelt effort is a far cry from those hopelessly rapping about the thug life. Finally, "Fragmentation" is production genius and a lyricist's dream. The song moves through four different beats while Coffee and Bonafide work to keep up with the changing pace. This is a great house party tune and is now their finale at their live shows.

Factors of the Seven cannot be looked at without seeing at the true masters behind it all, emcees Coffee and Bonafide. Each song is carefully constructed around these two very skilled lyricists. Honesty and vulnerability are seen quite clearly in a way that presents the duo as honourable, but not soft. Grits also has a way of speaking directly to the heart of an issue. The duo confronts their critics and the hypocrisy seen in the Christian industry. This album is an absolute must for any hip-hop fan. This masterpiece is innovative indeed - you will like what you hear.
- Jon Corbin
June 2002
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