ALBUM REVIEW - Cedric Dale Hoard: "Hope > Hype"

E X C E L L E N C E. That is what I think of when I hear a poem by Rooted Society artist Cedric Dale Hoard. On Tuesday, July 25th of this year Cedric dropped his highly anticipated album entitled "Hope > Hype." This album is the second body of collective music distributed to the masses by Mr. Hoard. To give context, as a former roommate and college Bible Study lead alongside Cedric, I have grown to know and love his poetic presence in a time of social uncertainty and political uproar. Cedric provides a refreshing perspective and hopeful message to listeners; one full of conviction, truth and pure good music and poetry. I have the privilege of breaking down each of Cedric's 10 tracks on "Hope > Hype." Here we go!:

1. Pacifier - The truth hurts. Cedric's poetry background is present on this track with the PSA type announcement to begin. I love his willingness to tread the waters of traditional hip-hop type rhythm, cadence and diction as a poet. It's needed. And I wish rappers wrote poetry often as well. Always an articulate artist, Cedric pauses the Hype and reveals many of society's unanswered questions; most of which typically seek a positive ending or solution. Cedric's premises is that Hope is the ultimate answer. Additionally, the "P" letter has its prominence in this track if you listen closely. Thinking of the track title too, this makes sense. "Satan trying to Pick-Pocket God's Purchase." BARS. "Catching feelings, no rather catching Pokémon." Easy work. I'm excited to see Cedric's lyrical arsenal grow as the lines of poetry and hip-hop are intertwined and as he continues the confidence and gets more comfortable rapping.

2. 360 (ft. Dantrell Cotton) - I could write a book on this song LOL. It's so dope. Reminds me of this: imagine a jazz/blues club type vibe where the city's most influential leaders come to give words of wisdom to the community in which they live, in order to promote attention to a certain topic needing it dearly. Can you see it? You can definitely tell that Cedric's control is evident on this track. This is probably one of the most complete songs on the record. Cedric's assertiveness is evident in every stanza. Dantrell Cotton sir, whomever you are, remind me to buy tickets to your next show. Excellent touch on the song. Perfect message and flow. Very well established. "Waiting for God for our time and our sign." Beautiful depiction of the unfortunate state of a certain demographic of people. "Will they realize we too were in God's design?" Touching.

3. Colorism (ft. Music by Chauntee Ross) - The moment this track dropped as the headlining single on the record, I felt a tug in my spirit to share it with every young, African-American woman I encountered. "When has anyone ever looked into the eyes of perfection?" What about this line: "sin, has always been associated with darkness/but it's still a sin when we discriminate based on ones darkness." So many gems. Take a minute to sit quietly and listen to this track. The bless-ed violinist provided us with our "seats" on this track; comfortably placed so that the words are emphasized. The violin, taking us through highs and lows of the track, supporting the message. The ending has hope and a final suggestion that one can't simply pass up without considering.

4. Past Tense (ft. Christian Folley) - I'm trying to figure out if Christian Folley is a sampled voice or if this man deserves to be slapped for adding a dope vibe to this joint? The lull/ pause before Cedric's verse and then the organ type piano chords, re-introduce us to the songs title. And then, we hear lines like these: "We are silent, we never tell them the state that we met Him in." BARS. BARS. BARS. Cedric's vocal tone is higher in this track, as it promotes urgency and yields a reflection important to the Christian individual listening. As a matter of faith, the more important factor of belief in Christ should be the overarching theme of what God has done in your own life as a direct reflection of God's grace and mercy and a possible commitment by others to the change a life with Jesus incurs.

5. Dear Approval - Acapella is poetry's way of emphasizing an innate quality that not many artists posses: resonance. Rises and falls of the passion and tone. Cedric's tone. Cedric's story. The boarders of approval sought by a young African-American male in a predominantly white school system are traveled. Best line by far on the entire project is in this track: "you see when approval starts to hold hands with pride, you start taking on tasks that were only meant for God." An obvious struggle akin to many men wether observed/identified or not, is the lust for the opposite sex and vice versa. Touchy topics are skimmed in the most intimate and raw format possible, making this track a cry from the heart of Cedric's pen as he writes. Do you know what a "testimony" is? Listen to this track and you may soon understand.

6. Dear Mainstream Rap - "We are no different than before, we are still shucking and jiving for the master." Hello rap and greetings to the common and borrowed lines we hear come from our radios most often. "Mainstream" is to identify music that seldom has critique but rather flourishes despite promotion of things you wouldn't want to see your daughters partake in. In promotion of the over-sexualization of the black female. In promotion of the already delinquently identified black male species who bypasses blatant negative social labels, perceptions and expectations by re-imagining a fabricated life of rebellion, defiance and deviance; all in a system that already doesn't love "us." This is Cedric's second attempt at rapping this far on the project and while evident poetic in nature, I feel it has its purpose because it's out of the norm and the title of the track has been appropriately configured. Dear. Mainstream. Rap. Shoutout to Sarah Bartman. Mainstream rap: "Challenge accepted? Or nah?"

7. Cracked SISTERnS (ft. Lauren Lee) - Wonderful, yet again, chorus with super touching meaning. "I break you, you break me..." why would we intentionally? We wouldn't. But it's what we do so often. If you have a daughter, play this track for her. If you have a significant other, play this track for her. If you have a female acquaintance or friend, play this track for her. Verse 1, traditional poetic approach to this track gives the entire record balance. Verse 2 is touching and the rap re-emerges and may be the best attempt to "spit" rap bars on the project, and it sounded most natural. This is where Cedric should be, second verse, going forward if rap is in the windshield of his artistry. So many self inflection and reflections on this track. "Cracks, that brothers put in sisters, in an attempt to fill cracked cisterns" (paraphrased). Genius.

8. Aunt 'Shea' - Very personal, touching reflection from Cedric that he invites us into. There is a message though, beyond the passing of a truly loved one. "Have we used our time wisely?" is the premises of his poem about Cedric's Aunt Shea. It's what I thought about for self, when listening through a few times. Additionally, the sample in the beat has me all on the floor immediately; cunningly constructed with remnants of J.Dilla and the magic he would create on the 1's and 2's. I love the tone of this one and Cedric's appreciation of the things that dear ones who have left this earth, may leave with us.

9. Tierra - Hold on let me grab this tissue, think I had something in my eye that's all. When the track came on, I was determined to only know it was about to be fire. 1 because I know Cedric and how hard he loves the Lord and 2 that if he Loves the Lord so much, it's only natural that Tierra will be his priority in Christ and their eventual nuptials. I'm "here" for this, as the young people say. LOL. Black love. Love period is amazing. God is good. Society would tell Cedric and Tierra many things contrary to this tracks message. Man! I keep playing the beginning!!!! The sample and horns are so smooth! Cedric's lyrical compass is clear, gathering examples know to society like: Steve Harvey's unfortunate crowning of the wrong participant and contrasting that with finding the "one." Well done.

10. Openly Christian - We've arrived. The final track. This I believe is Cedric's best fully poetic track. Openly Christian. In a time where CHH (Christian Hip-Hop) and Christian thought period can be seen as condescending and hypocritical because of self proclaimed "Christians," and in a time where liberal lifestyles are the norm and Godless living is accepted, Cedric prompts listeners with a message to stand firm and keep the faith. One sided in nature rightly so, Christians are given an exemplary attitude to have and a display of reliance on Jesus. Ultimately. SHOUTOUT TO @TerrandaRenise and her Openly Christian clothing line. #BillboardLife.

Cedric Dale Hoard. Thank you. #Hope>Hype

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