Bar Exam: Sevin – 4EVA MOBN (Album)
A One Listen Album Review
Sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, Sevin’s final album, “4Eva Mobn” made its appearance on Apple Music. I wasn’t ready for this. I’m planning to see him in Vegas this coming Friday night, so was gonna grab a physical copy there. Nonetheless here we are. No more introductions. Time for a Bar Exam.
Easy – Pressing play, there’s just a wash of sounds at the top.. A moving synth bass, and a Sample from HAIM’s song “Right Now” It’s a different bed to begin a track with, but Sevin busts a flow here anyway. The beat drops halfway through this first verse, and he keeps at it at a rapid pace. This song seems like a typical slow-burning intro track. The beat progresses nicely underneath but never matches the intensity of the performance. It’s very good. All flow, no hook.
“I’m thanking Jesus for teaching me thesises/ speaking of which He even paid tuition and gave everyone labeled Christian the great commission/praise the risen/the Holy Spirit enables stable vision and regenerates cuz its in our nature to hate submission/His grace sufficient/He gives the faithless the trait to listen/Send us out to reel em in/He basically takes us fishin’/Calls em in and draws em in from every nation race and description/He heals the man who’s ways are sickenin’ he’s the great physician”
Purple On Down – We move on into a more hyphy beat with a catchy hook. It’s a clever depiction of the royalty we’re clothed in as followers of Christ. Sevin’s first verse is a listing of things that are purple.. He’s flossin’ without a care. The flow switches back and forth between auto-tuned lines and his normal gritty swagger. Sevin Duce makes an appearance here and Duce to me is an artist that Sevin has definitely shown he trusts. He gives him verses on some bangin’ tracks, and I think we’re witnessing Duce’s growth because of it.
4eva MOBN – This was the first single from this project. The swimmy samples in the instrumental make it feel like another intro track. The beat is pretty mediocre and low key, and is just pretty basic. Sevin jumps on it with punchline heavy lines, and this hook is probably the best one I’ve heard from him in awhile. I’m not feelin Sevin Duce’s verse here. After I praised him in the last song, I find him to be inconsistent here. He gets into a mode of forsaking story or stream of consciousness for rhymes. It ends up just sounding like a list of things that rhyme. I like the way Faith Pettis approaches the mic on this verse. He starts this flow similar to the pace that Sevin put on his verse, switches it up with a pause-heavy flow and closes the verse with a triplet flow. Altogether this one fell a little flat for me.
Hol Up – This beat is bangin. Okay, and the instrumental adds and subtracts layers as the song goes. Sevin’s verse has some real nice lines to it. My computer is on fire.
“I used to have crash dummies that mash for me/Now I got a passion for fastin’ instead of fast money/Before you step to the square you should beware/Cuz my life is something most couldn’t bear like my last honey/ ”
Like in the movies when it feels like the director thinks the audience is dumb so we need someone to sit and spell out everything we’ve just watched… I usually cringe if someone has to spell out something for me. I tend to follow the rule “show don’t tell” and so this line was taken down a notch when he had to say “get it?,,” but he has another hot punchline immediately after that might have redeemed it? H.U.R.T. comes in with a real nice flow, I’ve liked most of what I’ve heard from him. Awwww man this was about to be my favorite track until this line about a fart at the end. It’s still bangin, and above the bar.
Majestk – There’s not much of a beat here. The theme of this one seems more worshipful. Sevin still brings a tough flow and Illuminate stops by for a nice verse as well. I’m so encouraged by the work Nate puts in and his pen game has been so strong lately. I dug the rumble pack line.
Christian Is My New Gang – This song fades in slowly. Some music box sounding stuff over the top of a deep synth bed. There’s a haunting progression here, and it feels alright. There’s some tension created with the mixing of this instrumental, especially when it comes to how the Chorus is treated. Sevin’s on his knowledge game here. Prophetic teacher, pointing to truth. More than anything pointing to Christ.
“and it started with us partnering for civil rights/now look how far from what we are from being civil, right?/place us in one’s space and time/we can’t have one civil night/hatred is a brown recluse/big ol wound, little bite/I chopped with rellies bout the status of the state we in/They say that they’re mistakes is because racism is making em/now racism’s to blame for causing pain and what it takes from em/But God can heal us all from it but we don’t take our place with ‘im/”
Hopeless – This instrumental is constructed well. It seems to fit with how the Chorus melody moves. The beat is easy, but everything fits together well here. Sevin Duce is on the first verse. I really prefer Sevin Duce in his storytelling mode. It’s great. He’s crafty at putting together rhymes, and his pronunciation of his bars keeps his flows locked to the beat. It’s that staying on point thing that is inconsistent for him. On this track he’s above the bar though.
“I wanna pray but I also know that talk is cheap/I wanna stay but it’s also like I’m walkin ‘sleep”
Sevin takes time on the second verse to define his stance and his legacy in CHH. Some people don’t gel with Sevin because his content may be too gospel, but in the church he’s too street.
“they say I over compliment the street/but you’re only concerned with that cuz you don’t comprehend the streets/Spittin’ all that Christianese/they don’t comprehend your speech/killers that be quick to squeeze are not the kind you tend to reach”
Neva Believe You – Fast pulsating bass line with a robotic vocal from Sevin at the top. The beat filters in. It feels nice. There’s rhodes tucked into this beat, and Sevin bobs and weaves effortlessly across the pattern of the sound waves. Seems to be sharing some of his testimony, or personifying the struggle of hundreds of thousands of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts and depression. His lines are deep, the emotion in his singing voice, the perspective he gives to how radiant the light of Christ can be when compared to the deepest darkness you can find in life is breathtaking.
Horror – This track is eerie with a horrorcore/Brotha Lynch steez to it. On this track Sevin paints a dark picture of crime and violence. Probably deeper into these descriptions than he’s gotten since his “HOG LIFE” album. The refreshing thing is that no matter how horrific or terrible the scene he describes can get, Sevin never fails to shine a light and point the listener to Jesus.
“evil is what evil does/cuz satan’s seeds still be saved if they receive Jesus’ blood/soaked in death is why we so depressed/I took a chance and told Him yes… you know the rest”
Monster – His whole career has incorporated independent producers so once more we as fans hear a Sinema Beats track with “Monster.” The piano just lays chords throughout but the beat fits well with everything going on in this track. This one feels like a part two of “Surrender.” No matter how much of a monster we feel we may be, it’s not bigger or greater than the payment Christ made for us. We’re forgiven no matter the mistake, the blood of Christ has set us free.
You Remix – This is the one I had to keep myself from skipping forward to hear. “You” is arguably my favorite Sevin track of all time, so I couldn’t wait to hear it reimagined and with Bizzle on a verse to boot. The beat is just a slowed up version of the original, and Sevin spits the same original verses too. It doesn’t get me amped as much as the original track. But, maybe now with Sevin’s larger audience hopefully it will cause people to go listen to his other stuff.
Break The Vow – The beat is familiar. Sounds like one we’ve heard before, but the hook here is a little different with some spoken and some sung lines. The theme of this one fits with Sevin’s “Rather Die Than Deny” mantra on his last album. Talking about how he’s going to stay true to his calling and never break his vow with God.
“we out here duplicating what the truth is making/it kills em like they tooth is aching/cuz they used to faking/but never us we too awakened/boy the noose is breaking/you hand me the two to bake em i am shooting satan/it’s on on visual my n****ro we funk with hell/i used to be among the criminals they lump in jail/but he shed his blood and it washed away what isn’t clean/so now I’m mobbin’ for the risen King”
Sevin Duce is constantly rolling with punchlines throughout his verse. It’s nice. Another tacky line to close up here though… “Sin is cancer on you prostates” yikes.
Learned From The Best – Twangy guitars filter in at the top, giving this instrumental a different texture than the rest of these tracks. This tune is the stronger of the two singles that came out pre-release. The hook isn’t as catchy as it is intentional. He uses this hook to conclude what he’s rapping about. Altogether it’s a strong and challenging track encapsulating all that it takes to chase after God with all that you’ve got. He not only challenges the mentality of Christian Hip-Hop, but the Christian mindset overall.
“Tell me what you playin’ for/Ain’t in it for the stats then homie why you save the score?/Then took a selfie with your name on top the players board/What’s weighing more?/The glory you received or what you gave the Lord?/Cuz you could fool the people/But the Shepherd ain’t impressed by what’s astounding the sheep/Let His spirit kill your flesh before you drown in the deep/Take everything that you possess and throw your crown at His feet”
World’s End – There’s some very fast paced hi-hats at the top over an icy synth bed right away. He’s kinda spazzin here. His inflections and different tones he’s using with his voice is great. The fast-paced twisting in spots is impressive as well. This song is about the end times. The Chorus here is kinda lazy. Lost some energy there. Zaydok lends a verse too, and does well with it but I’m not hearing anything to return to.
Only By Grace – Some sampling of Sevin’s singing vocals to begin, I think it’s the hook… sets in without a beat intact underneath. Might be the tightest flow on the album right here. Throws what is pretty much an a cappella over no beat, switches to triplet, adds some melodies… really intricate textures here. Selah makes an appearance and matches Sevin bar for bar. Neither of them even need a beat. This is dope all around.
Hero(??) – The original track list had this song listed, but it doesn’t seem that this one made the cut for the digital release.
Mob Wit Me – The music here is subdued and laid back. This leaves a lot of room for introspection. Sevin’s pouring out his heart and laying out his mission before us. He’s so lyrical on this entire album. There’s not a “funk paddle” track on here… it’s all a lyrical display, and I honestly feel that this is when Sevin is at his best.
When I’m Gone – This one just drops straight in with a simple beat again. Sevin is sharing about his life, and leaves some thoughts about what it will be like when he’s gone.
“All I ever had was a dollar and a dream/I don’t think I ever really thought I’d make it/the love they claim ain’t never what it seems/the trust could never ever be a thing once you break it”
“they love to diss me when I’m on/but I bet you they gon miss me when I’m gone”
As the music fades on Sevin’s final album, concluding 20 years of a brilliant career in Christian Hip Hop ministry, I admit it’s hard to say goodbye. The way he spoke about Christ and the struggles of life are unparalleled. He is able to organize and fashion words together in ways no one else can. He’s been on another level for quite some time. Yes, the beats and instrumentals could have always been better, but Sevin never cared about that. He could blaze the instrumental to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” if he had the chance. The goal all along has been for Sevin to share his heart on wax, and to impact souls, turning them away from the streets and towards God. That’s all. The heart in his artistry is what will be missed, and I wish him all the best and pray that God continues to bless his ministry as he follows the path God has for him. This album wasn’t his best, but it wasn’t his worst.. and it has a bittersweet taste to it because of these circumstances. Sonically it was middle of the road for me. I found these beats to be somewhat simple and sound a lot like each other. But if you’re here for lyricism and flows (which I am) this is the better offering of the two albums he released in 2018. I’ve still got to say it’s Above The Bar.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar