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Stu Dent
[ nephilim: act of god 1 ]


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Nephilim: Act Of God 1 - Click to view! If you haven't been let in on the secret, allow me: Stu Dent is actually Sev Statik of Deepspace 5 and Tunnel Rats fame. The name change may not be as confusing as it seems. Many other notable underground rappers use different monikers to express different sides of themselves. In Sev's case, the move was partly business related, but Stu seems to have taken on a life of his own. Nephilim is Stu's second release and the first of a three part series to be released on Seattle's Illect Records. It is the album's title that has this writer confused. The artwork references Genesis 6:1-4 which describes the oversized children fathered by the sons of God and born by the daughters of men. However, several listens to the record bring no context or explanation as to why that title was chosen. Fortunately, Stu provides a quality underground hip-hop project which can make us forget the confusing elements.

Things start off just right with "The Longest Night." Here, Stu describes the hungry artist staying up late in desperate need for good material. Producer Prime offers a dark groove with a lively beat to get the neck working just right. "Invisibullet" deals with life's unexpected twists in a surprising manner. Stu and guest EVS do not somberly lament life's struggles but instead encourage the listener to be aware of potential change and be prayerfully thankful for the good times. Canadian emcee Relic joins the fun and frankly addresses the church with "Portable Eclipse." The two emcees sharply admonish Christians who prefer to keep their music and ministry bound within the church walls. The words of the chorus epitomize Stu Dent's career and his place in hip-hop: "Let the light shine through / Give these streets a jewel / Going out of your mind with what this world is coming to / Be unafraid / Stabilize your way / Stand firm on His Word / No walls will sway." Relic firmly agrees: "It's like a slap in the face of the Great Commission when we refuse to sit and talk with them / I say, we're obligated nowadays to really make a difference / But our silence begat ignorance..." Other notables tunes are the Beat Rabbi-produced "That's It," featuring DJ Allstar, and "Equation," which discusses the creation of Christian rituals performed in a vain attempt to please God.

The production on this disc is very solid. There are 11 producers for 14 tracks, with only Mattman and June 22 appearing more than once. Usually, that spells disaster for a record, but this emcee is a beat miner and has dug up several underground gems. While it's not the greatest song on the record, JB's "Self Pharaoh" is the sleeper beat, bringing back memories of early De La Soul material. The largest concern for this album is the mixing. As usual, Stu Dent drops many deliberate and intelligent rhymes worthy of attention. However, with the above-average beats on this record, Stu's voice is mixed too low and tends to blend into the track. After bobbing your head for three minutes, you realize the song is almost over and you haven't really caught what the emcee is saying.

For an underground joint, this is an above average project. Be warned—fans of Lil Jon will not appreciate it! However, Stu provides the listener with something better: edifying and stimulating lyrics set to some dope beats. Better mixing, an occasional switch in delivery, and not starting virtually every song with "Well I..." would put this record over the top.
- Jon Corbin
July 2004
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