W.L.A.K. – Review by Alex Larsen

After a few stints on the top download page of http://rapzilla.com, Collision Records decided to collaborate the talent. Alex Faith, Swoope, Dre Murray, and Christon Gray teamed up to create We Live As Kings. Each of the artists had some individual success, and a team effort seemed natural. The different roads to the album bring their own diversity, mixing flows and musical styles. The album covers topics including the redemption of a fallen world, the incredible distance from us to God but the closeness of God to us, being all in for the kingdom, the cowardice that can accompany power, the impending reign, what queens look like for their kings, the battlefield of our lives that God willingly stepped into, and our own kingliness. With topics so far ranging, the album has serious depth potential. The artists are talented, too, so it has quality potential. Potential, though, is only as good as the use of it.

The album opens with an introduction to the album, snapping the high hats and slowing it down with a piano riff on top of whistling wind. The instruments draw the listeners in, and slowly, gently, transfer them to the second track of the album. Imagine comes in quietly; it doesn’t demand attention, but softly coos “today I can see/ a fallen world/ and I can only imagine/ them fallin’ in love with you/ falling in love with you” as the album begins by calling on God rather than man. W.L.A.K. drop the beat, bringing the expected hip-hop to the album. The beat continues into the catchy, repetitive background synth in Long Way Down. The artist screams out “do you know who I am/ (look at me)/ do you know who I belong to?” as he addresses the evil that constantly pulls at him, one that brings him into a dance he cant seem to break free from. Perhaps touching a concept very common to the expected audience, W.L.A.K. drops All In with a seriously competitive bass knock. They slyly toss out hook after hook, “bet big, faith high/pride low, we die/ everyday we guillotine/ heads roll, no lie/ got a full house over here/ call my bluff” keeping listeners barely above water in the sea of lyrics that they lay down. Coward pulls out the flashlight to shine into the dark, declaring “too much controversy/ change the subject” to shed some light on how many people treat the questions tossed in their face. W.L.A.K. goes on to ask a hard question – “Am I king or coward?” Hope is brought right back into the picture with the next song, as Reign Is Coming quietly proclaims “I’ve been waiting for you to fall/ Your love, like a hurricane/ You’ve been waiting for me to rise/ Get ready for the reign” before shouting out the hope that exists in the return of Jesus Christ. The album goes on to rap about living for eternity, instead of getting caught up in the things of this world. They cleverly stab “I wanna leave, but I gotta wait/ This world sleep, but I’m wide awake/ Livin’ here’s screwed up/ I’m outta my mind/ living in the future/ Marty McFly.” In Broken Kings, W.L.A.K. addresses the things that hold every man back from being the king he is capable of being. The next pair of songs talk about the counterpart to a king – his queen. W.L.A.Q. describes, essentially, the ideal behavior, attributes, and qualities of a queen. Arena grabs the anthem chant of thousands of believers, gathered in a stadium, resounded in the song With Everything. Looping this choral praise in the background, W.L.A.K. cry out “Oh Lord, stone they all rejected/ still You did the unexpected/ stepped down from the throne/ Oh Lord, lower than the angels/ but no one else could save us/ cause You are God alone.” After the serious, heart-focused ballad, the album enters its final war cry. With one last track, W.L.A.K. use King In Me to declare as a final challenge “I don’t care what they think of me/ I’m standing here with this king in me/ I’mma become what I dream to be/ I’m standing here with this king in me/ the sky’s what the limit is/ and can’t nobody tell me different/ I’m alive and I’m living here/ I’m standing here with the King in me.” The album fades out with a patterned clap shattering the synthesizers and banging drums, leaving that last line hanging – “the King in me” – as a reminder that W.L.A.K. is more than a collaboration name; W.L.A.K. stands for something. Each of the members stands for something – they believe in something. They believe, as the entire album displays, that the King, God, is present in and active in the life of those who put their trust and faith for redemption and forgiveness in Him. That’s all it takes to live as kings.

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