11 Mar The Glory Album by Christon Gray – Album Review
So I have to admit, I never heard of Christon Gray prior to March 5th. On that day, I had the opportunity to see him perform live at the 2016 BET Honors. He opened the show and treated the audience to a few songs from his then upcoming album including “Open Door (See You Later).” Dude played the piano and I instantly became a fan. In a generation where dance moves, creative marketing and “swag” come first and talent is secondary, it was refreshing to see someone play an instrument. Not only that but homeboy can sing. Christon Gray, has in my opinion one, of the most dynamic voices in any genre of music today. He is a throwback to 90’s R&B male artists, a time when you had to actually sing! Although, I get a bit of nostalgia, he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there today. Immediately following his performance, I had an opportunity to meet with him very briefly and he was just a humble dude. I told him I was waiting for his album to come out. Today, 3.11.16, that album is in stores and online.
The Glory Album, is a dope and complete project with substance and quality.
I have to admit though that I am a bit skeptical of singers who rap and vice versa. Unless your name is Lauryn Hill please choose ye which one you want to do! So when I heard Christon spit, I immediately gave him a side-eye but as a listener and a critic of music, I like to listen to an album multiple times before I judge it.
I also listen to each song individually. I listen for the content, melodies, cadence, substance, harmonies etc. I check to see how many features are on your album and see if they make sense. I also listen to see if each song can stand on its own. I then listen again to see if the progression of the album makes sense.
First, as a rapper, his style is very metaphorical and not too deep that it goes over your head. As a singer, he invokes old soul in his music. And again, he sings!
Production wise, I can definitely hear Kirk’s influence on a couple of tracks but overall Kirk takes a backseat and lets Christon stand in the spotlight alone.
The album doesn’t have a lot of features either – which is a good thing. It has a few – one from his brother Taelor Gray and an obligatory voicemail from Kirk Franklin. (Being that Christon is an artist on Kirk’s label, For Yo Soul Recordings it makes sense.)
As for the flow and content of the album, it is split into two different parts which are separated by The Glories – Glory Pt 1 and No.51 aka The Glory, Pt 2.
Side A starts with Glory Pt. 1 which speaks to the man that is Christon. He references things that have already happened in his life as an artist up to this point. Glory Part 1 is followed by “Stop Me,” which sees Christon make an embolden statement of intent about what he will do in his career.
“Ft. Knox” is a metaphor for when the heart has to wrestle when expectations aren’t met. We hear the many things Christon had to deal with as his artistic journey progressed.
When my co-worker asked me who I was listening to and I said Christon Gray, her immediate response was, “your listening to the guy from 50 Shades of Grey”? This misconception is addressed on “50 Shades” where he speaks on feeling misunderstood, trying his hardest to please people, and still falling short.
He gets real about his personal relationship in “Afraid With You”.
If Side A is a look at the past, then Side B is a present take of where he is now. These songs are a lot more inspirational and contains some of the best songs on the album.
I identify with “No 51 (The Glory, Pt. 2)” because it is upbeat, danceable and Christon spits about how he became comfortable to be the artist/person God made him.
“Open Door (See You Later)”, arguably the most recognizable song of the album, sounds like a goodbye to the old Christon Gray’s way of viewing his way of living life.
“My Love Is Real” is a really great love song for his wife – yes ladies he is married! It is full of redemptive lyrics of love and care.
“Nowhere” is arguably my favorite song on the album. It is about how God stepped into Christon’s life and dealt with his troubles when he least expected it.
“Blackmail (Black Male)” is a song about a couple who grew up on “two different sides of the track” and how they faced racial prejudice and discrimination.
The final song on the album, “Follow You” is a triumphant shout to the Lord that Christon will surrender all and follow him until he returns.
Overall, The Glory Album is a dope album. Each song is strong enough to stand on its own yet the album flows so it makes the project a complete body of work.
My hope is to learn the lyrics to all these songs because I am looking forward to his concert later this month at iNgage Church in Waldorf, Maryland. More importantly, I am looking forward to his after-party which is being co-hosted by yours truly, Culture New Norm.
So, if you haven’t bought the album or have any plans for 3.26.16, make your way to Maryland for one amazing night with an amazing rising star, Christon Gray.