#MusicMonday: Let The Trap Say Amen by @lecrae

Lecrae is no stranger to a mixtape. He’s already released three in his christian hip-hop career. That’s why when I found out he was releasing another mixtape, I was totally stoked.

Let The Trap Say Amen released June 22, with Grammy-award winning producer Zaytoven,  is a 13 song project born out of a mutual respect for each other’s work and joined by common faith, the two Atlanta legends came together for a release aimed at bridging understanding and building community, especially in underserved neighborhoods across America often dubbed “The Trap.” The 13-track project touts features from the likes of 24hrs, nobigdyl., and Verse Simmonds, as well as one of Atlanta’s best-loved sons, Waka Flocka Flame.

Song by Song Review

To hear the song, click the hyperlinked title.

Get Back Right: Lecrae talks about his recent success, his journey to becoming a believer in Christ, and his confidence in God with Him on his side. It will definitely have you bouncing whether you are riding in the car or working out to this song.

Preach: A song about once you know who you are in Christ, nothing else matters in the game.

2 Sides of The Game: Lecrae and Waka Flocka Flame share their personal experiences with selling drugs while K-So shares the 2 sides of selling drugs in the street.

Plugged In:  God’s his “plug” instead of drugs. This track discusses about providing for one’s family and making money in the streets.

Holy Water: A song about walking by faith not by sight.

Blue Strips:  Lecrae talks about the addiction to money and how many do anything to gain more. References dead end jobs such as stripping and dealing drugs and how the world glorifies these paths, despite that people are made for “greater.”

Only God Can Judge Me: A song with a bounce and a strong message when people of faith are facing persecution or condemnation from external circumstances, or internal feelings.

Yet: Lecrae shares his ambitions moving forward in his career and boosts his success and longevity in the game.

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I Can’t Lose ft. 24hrs: My favorite song on the album because it has the “righteous meets ratchet” feel as Come and Get Me from Lecrae’s album All Things Work Together.

Lecrae and 24 Hours talk about numerous blessings, their work ethic and haters.

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 Switch:  A song about being gangster for Jesus.

Can’t Block It: A song for the haters and about the haters.

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Fly Away ft. Nobigdyl: Lecrae’s first collaboration with nobigdyl discusses giving up the vanity of this world.

By Chance: Piano driven beat & meaningful lyrics discussing Lecrae’s journey as an artist, living by God’s plan, and the history of 116.

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#AuthorInterview: Meet debut author @ChrisKnoblaugh

I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Chris Knoblaugh’s debut novel Tribute and I loved it.

#BookReview: Tribute by Chris Knoblaugh

Below you will find my chat with the lovely and talented debut author.

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The Smart Cookie: How did you realize your love of writing?

Chris:  I started writing in middle school. Dark Shadows was on T.V. at the time, and I wrote fan fiction about Quentin Collins, the werewolf on the show. I had mononucleosis at the time, so I was home and quarantined.

The Smart Cookie: You teach middle school as well as have a tutoring business. Would you say you write books for children?

Chris:  I write pieces for my students to use as models. They asked me to write a full-length horror story, so that is how I started. Tribute is my third novel, but the only one I have published to date. My target audience is aged 11-14, and I don’t think of them as children. They are young teens at the age where the veil between reality and fantasy is thin.

The Smart Cookie: What inspired the story in Tribute?

Chris: When I first started teaching, I taught in downtown San  Jose. Several of my students lost friends and family members to the gang violence in the area.

The Smart Cookie:  I noticed there was a lot of mention of scripture in your novel. Do you consider yourself a person of faith?

Chris: I am. However, the scripture is directly related to exorcism practices. In a different novel, I write about voodoo and hoodoo practices. There is always a cryptid of some type in my stories as well as some type of belief practice.

The Smart Cookie:  Tell us more about where the MC Miguel came from.

Chris:  Miguel is a hodgepodge of many tweens I taught over the years. This is my 17th year of teaching, and I’ve met over 2,000 tweens between tutoring and teaching grades 5-7.

The Smart Cookie:  What are your goals with Tribute  and The Cleaners series?

Chris: I want to write books I can use with my own students, many of whom are English language learners. The books are designed to be high interest/low reading level books with enough action and intrigue to appeal to reluctant readers. Interestingly enough, most of the reviews I have on Amazon are from adults as far as I can tell.

The Smart Cookie: Where are you from? Do you have any personal ties to the Latin culture?

This question made me laugh. My Dad worked for the federal bureau of prisons for 23 years as their Chief of Mechanical Services officer. That meant we moved to a different prison reservation about every six months on average. I attended twelve different school systems in eight different states. Moving around as often as I did to many different cities, I grew up with multicultural exposure decades before it was fashionable to trace heritage connections. The other kids I knew with similar experiences were the children of military families. We had a lot in common.

The Smart Cookie: If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?

Chris: I’m an adult orphan, so it would be nice to talk with my deceased parents again.

The Smart Cookie:  Any other projects in the works?

Oh, yes. I have drafts of three more novels, and I have plans for more. My goal is to continue writing in retirement.

Connect with Chris at all these places.

Twitter

Her Website/blog

 

 

 

 

#MusicMonday: Speak Your Mind by @AnneMarie Album Review

Even before she had an album, her voice was playing on your radio. Anne Marie’s first entry into the Billboard Hot 100 was her collaboration with Clean Bandit, Rock-A-Bye.

That came out in 2016, and has since peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Speak Your Mind is the debut studio album by singer-songwriter Anne-Marie, released via Major Tom’s and Atlantic Records on April 27, 2018.

It has been certified gold in the UK since it’s release and debuted at #31 in the US on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song by Song Review

To listen to each track, click the title name to be linked to a Youtube video containing the song.

Cry: “Cry” is the opening song from Anne-Marie’s debut album Speak Your Mind. The song is a post-breakup song that shows Anne-Marie’s singing about her love interest crying and probably regretting leaving her for another relationship that didn’t end up working out. Throughout the song she fires at her ex, chiding that he should have realized she’s a ‘piece of luxury’, and that he can never find another person like her.

Ciao Adios:

a pop dancy track about finding your lover with someone new. It has Latin musicality and rhythm

Alarm: an EDM track about having intuition that once a cheat, always a cheater. The breakdown has a Jamaican sound.

Trigger:  “Trigger” describes a relationship between people with opposite temperaments. Anne-Marie implies she is a pacifist, at the mercy of her partner. The song is a plea for them to sort out their issues and make the relationship work.

The metaphor of a gun’s trigger is key in the song. Shooting a gun and ending a relationship are similar in their destructive capabilities, and both can be avoided via other, less violent means.

Then: the singer sings her heart out this mid-tempo ballad. She describes how she truly felt about an ex-lover, and how meaningful the relationship had been–then.

Perfect: “Perfect” talks about the beauty of imperfection and rejects the idea that perfection exists. It encourages people to be comfortable with their flaws and insecurities, and to just be themselves.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S: A pop anthem about being in the friendzone

Bad Girlfriend: The song speaks of Anne-Marie being a bad counterpart to his lover.  it’s clear to see that the man that inspired this song is still sticking around with Anne-Marie cause he is in love and all the flaws she had is nothing to him. And she is accepting the fact she is an idiot in relationship.

Heavy: A relationship that feels more like a burden than a blessing. It has a melodic musicality. It’s my favorite song on the regular version of the album.

2002: Co-written by Ed Sheeran,

In “2002,” Anne-Marie reminisces about falling in love and all the songs that soundtracked that romance.

During the song’s chorus, she references six songs released in the late 1990s and early 2000s, like Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” Nelly’s “Ride wit Me,” NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” and Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.”

The “99 Problems” reference is actually a misnomer, however, as Jay-Z didn’t write that song until 2003.

Can I Get Your Number?: It’s a woman/girl empowerment dancehall song about taking risk and going beyond the norm as Anne-Marie is the one getting the guy’s phone number instead of him approaching her first. Thinking that she should do the first move chanting “…what if this shit is love?” rather regretting for the rest of her life.

Machine: 

A track relating how idiosyncrasies that make us human wouldn’t bother if we were machine.

Other notable tracks on the deluxe version of the album include Breathing Fire and RockABye.