[Words By | K1ng Eljay]
- “The Resist Stance”
- “Yawning At Tigers”
- “No More”
Original ideas and concepts aren’t rare in Hip-Hop these days, contrary to popular belief. Instead, they’re a bit of everywhere if you know where to look (hint: not the radio). The biggest issue with most original ideas is that they’re pushed forward before they’ve had time to flesh themselves out; caterpillars are thrown to the sky without even being given a chance to cocoon and sprout wings. The ideas fall flat and either most people ignore it or someone takes that baby idea and runs with it the way it was meant to be done. A lot of the music that’s available for consumption are a product of that.
That’s why it’s so interesting when someone defies it, in a sense. One of the interesting elements of gospel music is the “leader” of the choir. Most of them don’t even sing; they just narrate what’s about to be sung. Granted, you got your Fred Hammonds that do it all (and do it well, Amen), but there hasn’t quite been a direct correlation to that angle in Hip-Hop, and if there was, it wasn’t done successfully (Diddy doesn’t count here).
I remember making the joke concerning Gerald Walker’s music, saying that I felt weird not saying his name without placing the “And The Family” part of it together, and it turns out, I had a reason for that. After a quick back and forth, it came out that it’s actually a group of people that are all involved according to him – about nine to be exact. From the vocals to the instruments, even though Gerald Walker is the front man in a sense, the project is a direct result of all the hands involved… and that’s more reminiscent of that Gospel, all hands on deck style of music than they probably intended (or…maybe they did intend it).
Regardless of all of that, I was blessed with the chance to review Gerald Walker and The Walker Family’s new project, Target, and I vibed with it so much at times that I forgot that it wasn’t out for others to enjoy. Sitting on dope music is a talent, and I’m glad that I get to pop the can and review this project for those that’s wondering what they’re getting themselves into.
Now, this isn’t Walker’s first go-round; the first I actually had heard of him was in 2010 with I Remember When This All Meant Something… There were several projects in-between, and the Milwaukee-raised emcee sharpened his words in the process. Thankfully, it’s all on display with the debut album; the double-disc is a full play of music for us to digest, and it’s an enjoyable ride that’s full of impressive introspective and solid musical concepts that resonate.
In layman’s terms, the music feels good.
Gerald slips in and out of a sing-song delivery/flow that works consistently throughout Target, even though sometimes he doesn’t exactly need to in order to get his point across. It’s instantly noticeable on the first track, “Watch Your Step”, but it smooths out and makes so much more sense by the time the play ends and you realize what’s happening. Weaving back and forth with the melodies makes it that much easier for The Family to come in and accent what he’s establishing with the sounds, and when it meshes perfectly it makes for incredible music. “The Resist Stance”, “100 Miles & Runnin’”, “Yawning At Tigers”, and “No Heart Feelings” all resound undeniably, and the content within the bars also help to make it slam home that much more.
Another interesting note are the at-times cryptic titles for certain songs. “No Heart Feelings” plays off the phrase “No Hard Feelings”, and delves into a bit of a maturation song (with the exception of the Freshman Cover line… that might’ve been for the best, though). “Jericho” plays off the Bible story concerning Joshua and the Israelites allowing God to knock down the city walls of the same name, but spins it to make it more personal. “Yawning At Tigers” is a quick, swift kick to the rear for those that are in doubt about their abilities. It’s an interesting angle that will fly over some heads, but not all.
Granted, there are some songs that are just as straightforward as can be. “Us Against The World,” “Let Us In,” and “My Place” (even though the latter felt out of place) aren’t cryptic at all, but still mostly deliver. It’s a bit of a drawback that there’s so much music here; it feels like there’s going to be dope songs that people glaze over because of how robust the tracklisting is, and honestly some songs could’ve been trimmed down or released as bonus cuts (or even loose singles between this and the prelude, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow).
At the end of it all, however, Gerald Walker and The Walker Family do something original, and they stick the landing far more solidly than most may have expected. Target is a full play that mixes Gerald’s thoughtful, introspective, and at times, extremely brash side – anyone that’ll talk to God reckless but still maintain that respect (see: “100 Miles”) has to know how to walk the line – with the intangible, feel good vibes that permeate the project due to the production and assistance of the others helping out. It’s a team game, and they help to make this one of the more original projects you’ll hear this year, especially when the content settles in and you see why the project garners his name (salute to Add-2 for the reading that helps to snap it in towards the end of the first disc).
Grand ideas, grand execution… Not bad for a debut album, is it?
The Quick Recap
- + Gerald Walker And The Family leaves it all out there in the music for those who care to listen, and Target has an incredible amount of weight to it that makes it feel big.
- – Some songs don’t quite fit, and it would’ve been nice to see the tracklisting trimmed in order to avoid getting bogged down in similar sounding tracks (even though they’re few and far between)
- +/- At times, Gerald’s flow is cadence heavy, and he switches it consistently for the sake of remaining musical with the words; you never quite know what he’s going to say, or how he’s going to say it.
- + Notable mention here to “No More”, where Gerald is arguably at his boldest, name-checking Lecrae, Future, and Cash Out (yeesh) with valid points. You have to respect the confidence.
The REDEFINED Rating
3.5 out of 5