January 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 17°F


Review: Propaganda produces ‘Excellent’ album

Opening with the scalding bout of spoken poetry “Don’t Listen to Me,” it’s clear that Propaganda’s “Excellent” is a daring venture into the realm of rap. The tracks focus on themes rarely mentioned in the genre: Religion, failure as a parent, teen pregnancy and racial tension are all prominent and integral aspects to the album.

The Los Angeles-born rapper’s svelte wording is consistently paired with quality beats, integrating guitar, strings and hand percussion to craft immersive soundscapes for listeners to enjoy.

The title track “Excellent” is only two minutes long, but it packs every second with aggressive verse after aggressive verse. It’s a track so well crafted that it initially brings fear that the remainder of the album will falter in its wake  — fortunately, this is not the case.

The album ardently keeps its momentum with “Raise The Banner,” a war cry for community service that does not waver in its intensity, preaching a sentiment of community responsibility over a slick electronic beat.

“Forgive Me For Asking” is a notable track, turning the spotlight toward religion. The lyrics are volatile yet intellectual, relaying Propaganda’s skepticism in religion even as a man of faith, saying, “I know it’s wrong for me to front like I understand your theology as well as I think I understand mine / But I know we can agree on this / Something is deathly wrong with us.”

“I Ain’t Got An Answer” proceeds it, resembling a pained diary entry, focusing on issues of parenting with a mix of anger and despair. The track is nothing short of heart wrenching, the chorus saying, “When it’s apparent / that you have failed as a parent.”

The entire album is an evocative venture. The greatest accomplishment that Propaganda achieves with “Excellent” is that he brings these sensitive issues to light and can talk about them honestly with his lyrics.

“Excellent” is not the standard rap many come to expect from mainstream media — nobody is “making it rain” or “up in the club.” “Excellent” is a mature listening experience that wrangles complex and sensitive issues.

It would seem that Propaganda had intuition by titling the album “Excellent,” because it is just that.

Overall rating: 4 stars

The Christian rap artist released his newest album, “Excellent.”

Steven Pirani can be reached at spirani1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @stevenpirani