To call Armond WakeUp a Christian rapper isn’t putting him in a box.
The last installment of Snooze Button has a purpose, and it’s not that hard to understand. In its theme of “wokeness,” unlike the overused phrase, the project looks at the idea of spiritual awakening. Its purpose is to “wake up” its listener, hence the play on Armond’s name.
Opening track “King Booker,” named after 90s wrestler Booker T, discusses arrogance, self-importance and the need to stay humble. On it he raps, “Only loyal to the moment / Wrapped in a trash bag of self-importance.” Narcissism is a topic that Armond revisits a few times on this project, in connection to perception and image.
At this point and time our society is becoming increasingly visual. Instagram and Snapchat are extremely popular because of what is now being called a “Visual Culture,” where pictures and video have replaced text because of time, patience and appeal. On “Morning Run” Armond discusses society’s obsession with image: “So concerned with a title, and I don’t even need a belt / So concerned with the look that they don’t even see themselves.” He also admits his own need for fulfillment: “These mind traps that I attract / I might relapse / Phone full of WYDs and “Hi” backs / Trying to fulfill something I lack in a thigh gap.”
A guest verse from KamBINO on “Legends of the Hidden Temple” takes away from the message on the song. It throws some casual homophobia: “I’m like, ‘Please get these fairies off my wood’ / Lord knows probably dresses in their wardrobes.” It’s hard not to notice the difference between the mindset that Armond is in versus KamBINO. KamBINO raps, “I am a Christian but I’m not Christ / Swing on me G you liable to get socked twice.” In the same song Armond raps, “Maybe a message of affection / Instead of a perception of perfection.” Sounds like someone has some waking up to do.
On his own Armond covers a lot more ground. He discusses his son (“Trying to teach my son to be a man from a distance / Very stressful / There’s only so much to say / Some things he gotta stand next to”), his demons (“Living like I sorta know my soul’s at stake / Like I don’t wake up with demons pinning me down”) and the society around him (“Unfortunately God is not in our plans / We’ve turned God to a brand / And made gods of our brands”). Even without sharing Armond WakeUp’s religious views, I imagine it would still be interesting hearing his outlook on life and society. There’s truth to his words, making you take a step back and reevaluate. He’s done his job.
A sample of Rihanna’s Tame Impala cover, “Same Ol’ Mistakes” is an awkward fit for Armond’s raps, but I do have to agree with him on the song being incredible. Otherwise, the production is not especially notable. His raps are nestled in Royce Da 5’9 and A Tribe Called Quest samples easily, where production already has a need to focus on the lyrics. Though not his own beats, the samples do what they need to in not distracting from Armond and what he is trying to say. Nodding your head along with his message, the samples are no harm done.
Admittedly, going into this album I had preconceived notions about what a Christian rap album sounds like. Snooze Button 4 both confirmed those notions, and still moved beyond a few expectations. At times preachy, and other times thoughtful and wise, Armond WakeUp’s mission is heard. He’s rapping about his own life, his own qualms and issues. And for anyone struggling on their spiritual journey, someone to relate to is a Godsend.
FlyPaper is giving Snooze Button 4 four keys for lyrics, and three keys for sound, for an average of 3.5/5.