Vocab Malone

Phoenix-based hip-hop artist Vocab Malone is clearly passionate about two things: God and rap — so much so, that he spends his 15-song album explaining this to you, underscored by unremarkable old-school beats. While this topic is interesting for a few songs, such as the moody album opener "Hard" or the beat poetry title track, it quickly grows tiresome. Malone has the flow and charm to make him a great rapper, but his lyrics lack the subtlety required to take on a topic as complex as Christianity or faith with any kind of validity. "U" comes off like a bad Sunday school poem, and morality tales such as "Pass the Breather" or "People That Rap" are as blunt in their delivery as a pair of safety scissors. Although Malone's positive attitude and emphasis on moral values are a pleasant contrast from many in the debauched hip-hop community, his simplistic approach to faith is not terribly interesting. It's not enough to say that God is great; it's important to demonstrate why. To do so requires someone with more than just good intentions, which Malone clearly has. It also requires someone brilliant, which sadly, he may never be.

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