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Gift Rap 
Artist: The Cross Movement & Friends 
Label: Cross Movement Records
Length: 10 tracks

 Long as it's been into hip-hop's history, and, to my knowledge, there hasn't yet been a full single-act Christmas rap album. Ever scripturally-astute rhyme unit The Cross Movement comes closer than anyone by enlisting some friends for Gift Rap.

To the group's credit, this Gift doesn't just apply the Movement's patented lyrical depth to matters appropriately Christological. The Lord's earthly birthday lends itself to familial recollections and tangential exhortations for the rest of the year. 

Da T.r.u.t.h. recalls the jolly warmth of Run DMC's "Christmas In Hollis" with the "Tell You Why," whereas T.r.u-L.i.f.e offers a more bittersweet recollection of hristmastime kinship on "A Different Chrstmas" (with a riff recalling Eminen's "Stan" minus Dido's sample). The first Cross Mover to drop a  solo longplayer, Ambassador, hits a little more theologically profound if musically weaker than on his cut with female vocalists S.O.U.L., "Come Down," than the member whose solo joint I'm most awaiting, Tonic, does on the deceptively comical "Happy Birthday To Who?" 

Phanatik extends the charity the holiday engenders into what "Love Does" all year round, and FLAME draws political metaphors on the set's most hyper number, "Invasion Day."

Even with that spark of excitement, the overall beatscape here is rather blissed out and mellow. Not quite to the point of sameness, but too close for so creative a group. Multi-culti foreign guests M.O.D. (not the old metal band) pump up the energy a mite with "The King Speaks," too. Love those Brit accents, too.

Rap could sound great, among the right family, on the stereo after Christmas Eve gift opening while late night snacks are downed with some nog and punch. One might wish for a couple more club bangers amidst the Movement's more reflective reminiscences, but give the guys credit for carrying off the slightly daunting idea of ten tracks of Christmas hip-hop that don't add up to a crazy quilt compilation. 

Jamie Lee Rake 12/26/2004

'Tis the season to be rapping about J.C. and thanks to Cross Movement Records, there is finally a CD to accommodate the season.  Gift Rap is a Christmas compilation featuring The Cross Movement, Da Truth, J-Silas, FLAME and others to bring the soul of Christmas into homes everywhere.

This record is full of a variety of music ranging from chill, smooth beats (like "Came Down" and "Happy Birthday to Who?") to songs that are more high-energy ("Invasion Day" and "On This Day").  One thing's for sure: there's never a dull moment.  Though some songs are slower, they are still powerful songs that won't leave you bored and eager to move on to the next track.

Gift Rap is definitely not your average Christmas album, but that's not the only element the CD has going for it. Lyrically, the album is full of depth and purpose. It's not about the turkey, the presents, Santa Clause or mistletoe kisses, but rather the lyrics revolve around an overlaying, more confrontational theme: getting people to refocus on the true meaning and purpose of the holiday.  For example, the song "Came Down" starts off, "When I was young I used to want a lot of presents/ And now that I understand Christmas, all I want is Your presence."   In the song "Read the Book" by J-Silas, the lyrics follow along similar lines:   

Christ must have died for your sins' is the hook, 
This is more than a season or a song, read the book.  
A royal lion slain as a lovely lamb, 
Amongst his sheep he's the great I Am.
The Cross Movement (group) ends the record with a strong, smooth tune called "Wisemen" that leaves a message of hope for those who have lost that good-ole Christmas joy and sends you off on a very positive, uplifting note.

Even though there are not as many high-energy tracks on the CD as I had hoped for, Gift Rap is a must-have album for your Christmas collection, and the best part is, you could probably pull it out in July and still enjoy it.

By Sarah Verno 1/20/2005



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