Those of you who know me, know that gospel music is not my area of expertise. Aside from Kirk Fraklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams and other “contemporary Christian” artists, I couldn’t tell you much about the genre. With that being said, I was slightly hesitant to review Hostyle Gospel’s latest album, Immortal Combat. Upon listening to the album, however, my qualms soon began to fade, as I realized that while Immortal Combat has an overarching Christian theme, it is, in essence, still a hip-hop CD.

Comprised of Christian MCs, Proverb, King Soloman, and Big Job, the Champaign group, Hostyle Gospel released their second studio album, Immortal Combat, in January of this year.

Upon listening to the album’s opening track, listeners have no idea what to expect judging by the start of the album’s opening track, “Welcome to the Show.” The phrase,  “welcome to the show” is sung, then yelled, and as the rapping begins (about a minute in), we learn, that this is in fact, “not a show.”

Throughout the album, Hostyle Gospel does a great job sonically matching their instrumentals to theme of their lyrics. Numerous times, particularly when listening to “D.H.B.” and “Souljas,”  found myself saying aloud, “this sounds like fight music,” or “this reminds me of something you would hear in a videogame,” only to then remember that the CD is titled Immortal Combat, a play off of the 1990s videogame, Mortal Kombat.

Immortal Combat is an incredibly honest album, as the members manage to rap about their personal relationships with Christ/Christianity, and as a result, they manage to avoid sounding “preachy” (although I did find the interlude between “Tell Stan It’s ON” and “Callin’ Out to To You”  to be sermon-like and out of place, as it did not fit the hip hop feel that present throughout the rest of the album). On my favorite song from the album, “Proverb’s Letter,” Hostyle Gospel call out current chart-topping artists such as Jay-Z, Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil’ Wayne even saying “half the time he’s (Lil’ Wayne) not in his right mind, so I don’t believe him,” (I’m forced to agree, the man admittedly drinks “sizzurp” and goodness knows what else, he’s not a reliable source of much).

It’s certainly refreshing to hear lyrical content that’s not centered on materialistic ideals or illegal activity. I’m sure Hostyle Gospel will have all Christans “throwin’ their C’s up” in no time.

To purchase Immortal Combat, visit Amazon.com.