Prime Cuts: Turbo Style, Vision, Legacy (Featuring Crystal Lewis)
With a drop of bright red blood as her background, Beckah Shae's "Champion" album cover is most telling. This isn't just your average boost-up-you-ego feel good album. Rather, functioning as the record's central thesis is Shae's conviction that it is the victorious blood of Jesus which flows in us that make us champions. Thus, this isn't just your average electronic dance album that disguises Jesus under the generic pronoun "he" without a modicum of reference to his Word. Conversely, what gives "Champion" such an affecting glow is that this is collection of songs so soaked in the teachings of Scripture that it overflows with zest, energy and power. "Champion" is by far Shae strongest as well as her most star-studded effort to date. Featuring Crystal Lewis, Israel Houghton, T-Bone, Eric Dawkins and Canon on vocals, you couldn't ask for a better cadre of singing partners.
For nearly a decade, Shae has been a tour de force in Christian music. Together with her husband and producer Jack "Shoc" Shocklee, they have blessed us with Christian radio hits such as "Here in This Moment" and "LIFE" (the latter even garnering her a Dove Award nomination). When it comes to the making of her eighth album, Shae took the time to ask her loyal fans what they wanted. When it was revealed that they wanted an upbeat dance record, "Champion" was born after a hugely successful Kickstarter initiative. Bustling with an intoxicating blend of funky club beats and a frenzied synth workout, the title cut "Champion" speaks of how the blood of Christ who runs in the veins of the redeemed never allows us to take defeat as the ultimate answer.
What makes Shae such a compelling singer is the faith she exudes in the songs she sings. Be prepared to be blown away by Shae's mountain-moving faith in "Turbo Style" as she sings: "Yeah I may seem real small, but I'm about to get real tall/ 'Cause I'm a believer that all things are possible." Worship leader Israel Houghton and R&B crooner Montell Jordan get excellent Auto-voicing treatment in "Jericho." If you are ever in doubt as to whether God still does miracles today, this worship anthem will blow such skepticisms away to smithereens. Even if you are not a fan of rap, you'll have got to tip your hat to T-Bone in the way he makes the Hebrew names of God rhyme in the highly infectious "My All" (no, not the Mariah Carey song of the same titular but a brand new Shae original). And after all these years, Crystal Lewis still shows she still has those powerful pipes on "Legacy."
"Vision," a modern day re-write of the hymn "Be Thou My Vision," is one of the album's more ruminative moments. Listen especially to how the heavily fazed drums and keys riff spiral to the margins as Shae sings with such a worshipful awe: "Give me Your vision / Cause I wanna see where You are / And where I'm going / Give me more revelation / Cause I want to understand why and how I'm still loving." The songs on "Champion," at the end of the day, lives up to the album's titular. This is a positive, faith-building and fear-dicing record undergirded by disco bells, electronic programming and shimmering synths. Yet, it is not an album built upon frivolous positive thinking messages. Rather, it is one that is carefully grounded in God's promises