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The Gadfly - Click to view! "You ain't gotta like me / I don't like you / But one thing's for sure / Respect due!"

After 20 years in the game as outspoken Christian battle rappers (yes you read that correctly), LPG are calling it quits. The founders of the Tunnel Rats sum up their career with a high quality album, The Gadfly. A gadfly is a small insect destined to agitate wildlife just enough to cause movement and remind them to breathe. As rappers Dax and Jurny Big lay their mics down, they assume the role perfectly, serving up enough controversial lyrical content to aggravate (and gain the attention of) the industry.

Honest song topics reign supreme on The Gadfly. "Record Keeps Spinning" addresses those who still question the legitimacy of faith in hip-hop. Dax calmly provides these words: "As the record keeps spinning / The world keeps spinning ... You can be down with this culture and still be a Christian / That should be a given / Nowadays it isn't / Hip-hop's just a culture / Christian is living." The earthy classic "A Place Called Hip-Hop" from LPG's first album, gets a makeover from producer Dert into a scathing commentary on the state of modern hip-hop. Jurny creatively illustrates his point: "It used to be a place without band-aids on faces / And thugged out voices running through R&B places / And broads in videos showing more body than brains." Those new to the L.A. crew will be impressed at the exceptional lyricism that remains consistent through 23 tracks.

The pain of racial profiling is addressed in the hard-hitting "Squad Car." "Liquid" sees both emcees describe very personal desert experiences as they contemplate their place in hip-hop culture. On the subdued "Wackness Like," Raphi joins the fun as the duo intentionally confronts Christian rappers who provide sub-par music and defend it as ministry. On one of many of the album's interludes, Dax asks the question: "is compromising the gospel not saying Jesus in your rap 30 times, or is [it] putting out a project so bad in it's quality and content that it ends up turning people away?" As leaders in this game, LPG raise the bar for Christian performers to make their ministry more effective.

This is an album that deserves several spins simply to pick up all the knowledge that the crew lays down. Dert's sharp production provides a deep underground feel, with a wide range of samples from East Indian to 70's funk, bright guitars to stripped-down percussion. Solid guest appearances from Raphi and Sev Statik as well as producers Jermz and Peace 586 contribute to an already excellent album. While The Gadfly may be interlude-heavy, it should be no deterrent to purchasing an album that many will call a classic.
- Jon Corbin
August 2003
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