Bible, Torah, Koran or otherwise, religion has always given mankind plenty to talk about. But as he asserts on “Block Shit,” Englewood rapper God doesn’t talk: he just drops shit. It’s a work ethic that shines through on his new mixtape, The Gospel: 3000 B.C. (Before Crack)—and while it falls short of a religious experience, it’s a rewarding and entertaining listen from a rapper with his eyes set on the throne.
From crisp artwork to skillfully directed music videos, God has always brought a sense of professionalism to his work. He’s got a wide lyrical range and a knack for wordplay—in the past, he’s paid tribute to everyone from College Dropout-era Kanye (“Trunk full of coke, rental car from Avis/Momma tried to tell me that my rhymes could save us”) to America’s most infamous toupee-wearer (“I had a dream that I robbed Donald Trump/Tied him up, threw his ass in the trunk”).
But above all, he’s a workaholic: he released two full-length mixtapes in 2014 (The Bible and After the Bible) and put out a music video for almost every track on them, all while spearheading his Money Block Entertainment crew. (As The Gospel’s introduction states: “he hungry, he grind hard, he take care of his family…”) Through Money Block, God has collaborated with and promoted the work of Englewood rappers such as Wu Allah and MB Jesus.
More notably, God has performed with Juicy J and posted photographs of himself hanging out with DJ Khaled and Wiz Khalifa; he’s garnered tens of thousands of views on WorldStarHipHop; Waka Flocka Flame has worn one of his shirts.
And yet, he’s basically unknown beyond the South Side. It’s tempting to compare God to the likes of Lil Durk and Chief Keef and ask: could The Gospel be that breakthrough, God’s Finally Rich? It’s hard to say, but The Gospel is a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
Appropriately enough, the album’s opener, “Gospel”, begins with chapel-floorboard stomps and a wailing hymnal sample. After a few measures, a snare roll clatters in, and then God takes the mic. Like any good rapper, God doesn’t ever sound like he’s trying too hard, so the fact that he manages to shift up his delivery so frequently across The Gospel is impressive. He’s got a tip-toe cadence on “Stick to the Code” and the sing-song “Rope,” but he sounds just as comfortable rapping double-time on “Street Sweeper.”
On the whole, The Gospel is less grim than God’s earlier works—and it’s to his benefit. In terms of production, it’s decidedly polished and surprisingly ambitious. Each beat is crisp and punchy, and although plenty of trap tropes are on display (808 kicks and gunshots aplenty), there’s a strong Memphis undercurrent on tracks like “Broke Remix,” which is propelled by a gorgeous saxophone melody and a Juicy J verse. Elsewhere, “Block So Hot” features what sounds like a distorted blues sample and bitcrushed, rear-view mirror-rattling bass.
That’s not to say that The Gospel is without flaws. Not all of the choruses land, and the mixtape loses some steam over the course of its second half. God’s whispery delivery on “Prada” doesn’t play to his strengths, and even with its siren-like synths, the 808 Mafia-produced “I’m King” isn’t particularly impressive. But at twelve tracks, The Gospel is lean.
After The Gospel’s release, God tweeted “Thanks for all the love on The Gospel…the hate is appreciated as well!” It hasn’t been an entirely smooth path—God continues to catch some flak from Twitter users for his name—but as he raps on “Stick to the Code,” he “ain’t worried ‘bout nothing.”
The Gospel might not be a revelation, but if God keeps coming out with material like this, he has nothing to worry about.
Listen to The Gospel: 3000 B.C. (Before Crack) at www.soundcloud.com/youaintgod