Tedashii "Below Paradise" Album Review


Prime Cuts:  Nothing I Can't Do (Featuring Trip Lee & Lecrae), Dark Days, Darker Nights (Featuring Britt Nicole), Chase (Featuring Tim Halperin)

Often we have anchored ourselves in the luxuries and the comforts of this life that we often forget that this world is not our home.  It is just like a tourist who has checked in at the local Motel 8 and spending all his savings decorating the room, forgetting that he's only there just for a short stay.  Nothing serves as a better wake-up call than Tedashii's album cover of his latest release "Below Paradise."  Featuring an overturned automobile seconds away from being blown up in the middle of an isolated wilderness, it the perfect parable about the transient nature of life.  Just like the overturned vehicle ticking away like a time bomb, likewise a single tragedy could easily detour us from the race of life.  Such is the theme of "Below Paradise."  This is an album that brings to light the teaching of Jesus about not storing up treasures here on earth; for we are nothing but mere pilgrims.  And our time in this world, with all its trappings, is nothing more than a brief stay at the local Motel 8. 

Tedashii, also known as Tedashii "Tdot" Anderson, is a member of the hip hop troupe 116 Clique.  Tedashii came to be committed to music ministry at the encouragement of Lecrae and Sho Baraka.  Besides his stint with 116 Clique, Tedashii has had released 4 solo records of which "Below Paradise" is his fourth solo endeavor for Reach Records.  Just like many rap/ hip hop albums, secular or Christian, Tedashii has fallen into the temptation of utilizing other singers to sing the hooks of his songs to augment his rapping.  Thus, out of the 14 tracks on this new album, all but 3 songs feature another artist along with Tedashii making it sound like a compilation record than a solo full length Tedashii record.  

With such chirping aside, "Below Paradise" is Tedashii's best album to date.  The lyrics read like journal entries of Tedashii himself, they are raw, honest and at times acerbic to the unreflective soul.  Beginning with a slow grind, the title track "Below Paradise" introduces the theme of the record:  the world is not perfect, in this life we will definitely be kicked in the teeth by trials, sickness and death.  Kim Parker in singing the hook of "Perfect" reminds us that we aren't perfect either: "You don't know what I've been through/don't judge me, you got a past too."  But Tedashii is quick to point out that such imperfection finds its root in our rebellion against God which the Bible calls "sin."  Such a teaching is most transparent in "Catch Me If You Can" (Featuring Andy Mineo) which alludes again to Genesis 3 in the words:  "Hiding in the bushes, I don't want to get caught."

One of the reasons why this album is so arresting is that when Tedashii sings about the sufferings we experience in this world, he's not just waxing rhetoric.  Rather, it comes from a bleeding heart of a father who had just lost his one year-old son.  It's hard not to fight back tears when we listen to a song like "The Chase" (Featuring Tim Halperin).  This song brings us back to the day after Christmas when Tedashii read to his dying son the story of Christmas one last time before bidding him farewell.  And when Britt  Nicole sings with Tedashii on the painful "Dark Days, Darker Nights" one can't help but feel all the hurt pulsating through the song.  Yet, not all is doom and gloom.  The album's apogee comes with "Nothing I Can't Do" (Featuring Lecrae and Trip Lee) where Tedashii right pins his hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as our ultimate hope in our sufferings. 

"Below Paradise," in many ways, is a hard hitting album.  Beneath Tedashii's deep voiced flow schemes and rhymes, this is a man who has not only been hurt but he is one who has sought healing from our Divine Healer.  And we are privileged to be given privy to some of the lessons Tedashii has had learnt from the Master through these 14 cuts.

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