After the much talked about Evangel-Lecrae beef a couple of months ago, I thought it would be cool to review Evangel’s latest album, “Eyewitness Encounters.” It came out back in March. I meant to do a review on it, but I…well, sometimes I procrastinate. I also thought the review would also be a good way to mention that Christcentric (the crew that Evangel is a part of) has an album, “The Jude Injunction,” that should be dropping in early December.
Recently, Evangel of Christcentric, released his latest solo album, “Eyewitness Encounters.”
Evangel’s last solo album, “Expository Journey” was released back in 2008 on Lamp Mode Recordings. This album sees Evangel on his own label, Christcentric Records.
“Eyewitness Encounters,” is a series of first-person “stories” that answer the question, “What was it really like to see God in the flesh?”
To answer this question, Evangel role plays and gets into the mind of a host of New Testament characters--from Nicodemus (“Nocturnal Excursions”) to the Woman at the Well ("At the Well").
This album focuses on the Gospels (for good reason since pre-incarnation appearances excluded, it’s the only place in the Bible that we definitively see God as He truly is), but makes stops in Isaiah and Daniel, two additional places in the Bible where we get to behold God as He is.
Standout tracks on the album for me were “In the Shade (Under the Tree),” which focuses on the calling of the disciple Nathanael; “Hunger” which has an amazing foreign language intro and focuses on the fig tree that Jesus cursed; "The Privilege;" and of course the title track; “Eyewitness Encounters (feat. Monielle),” which gives an overview of the album.
The last track on the album, “Mama,” might seem like it’s out of place, but I think it’s a fitting closer. It’s Evangel’s personal testimony about how his mom was like Christ to him and helped him progress in his faith. Now that his mom has passed, she is literally in God’s glory and able to have her own “Eyewitness Encounter.” If you’ve ever lost someone who was instrumental in the development of your faith, you’ll relate to this track and feel renewed hope after listening.
Is it fitting that Chege Njoroge’s stage name is Evangel or what? “Eyewitness Encounters” really delivers the Good News of Jesus Christ. To be honest, most rappers (Christian or otherwise) don’t have the lyrical stamina and wherewithal to do what Evangel has done on “Eyewitness Encounters:” Make a thematic album that take passages from the Bible and lay it out over beats. Evangel is an amazing lyricist and his gritty, raspy delivery adds to the package. If Holy Hip Hop ever gets a hall of fame and I’m a voting member, Evangel will be one of the first people I nominate. All-in-all, “Eyewitness Encounters” is an amazing album. It takes a listen or two to get into, but once you do, you will probably add it to your heavy rotation collection.