Reach Records artist Tedashii is back with his latest project, Below Paradise. The album is a transparent look into Tedashii’s life as well as all the ups and downs that come with living below paradise. This is the most anticipated album of the year for me (see my supporting column), and I was not disappointed.
After facing the tragic events of 2013, Tedashii brings a realistic view of life in this fallen world as both a believer and non-believer. The passion that this album was written with is readily apparent. Below Paradise shows a growth and maturity from T-Dot that is forged from the fire that trials bring.
Tedashii brings us in with a brief opening title track that gives the listener a brief overview of what’s about to go down. He gives us a glimpse into what he is facing and how he intends on dealing with it. The title track is then followed by the song “Perfect,” which dives deeper into a man’s soul with Kam Parker singing, “You don’t know what I’ve been through/don’t judge me, you got a past too.”
“Dark Days, Darker Nights” hits hard as Tedashii begins to delve deeper into the journey that is his life. The track “Nothing I Can’t Do,” with Reach label mates Trip Lee and Lecrae, brings to life that there is nothing we can’t do as believers with the power of Christ within us and supporting us.
The Andy Mineo laced track, “Catch Me If You Can,” reveals the inner struggle that is taking place within Tedashii’s soul as he raps, “I’m bearing my soul like in the garden naked/Aware of my flaws and it’s hard to take it/My image in the mirror, it’s hard to face it/Trying to remember but somebody erased it/Now all I know is I’m trying to escape it.”
“Fire Away” sees Tedashii giving us the weapons he will fight with to recapture the joy and happiness in his life despite extenuating circumstances. “Be With You” is a love letter written to his wife and coupled with the track “Love Never Leaves;” one is left with the feeling of the struggle within a marriage to continue to love your spouse as Christ loves the church. “Complicated,” with Christon Gray, gives us some insight into just why things in the world are so complicated.
Tracks like “My God,” “Magic,” “Earthquake,” with KB, and “On Ten,” with Derek Minor and Transparent, show that the old T-Dot is still there with hot, hard-hitting beats and lyrics that quickly become rallying cries much the same way Riot and Make War did previously. However, the realest song on the entire album is a tearjerker called “Chase” in which Tedashii pours out his heart regarding the loss of his son.
Oftentimes, the beauty of a Tedashii album is the straightforward lyrics. They hit hard and are paired with similes and metaphors that drive home the point T-Dot is trying to make in his songs. They are straightforward with no sugar coating. In short, they are real. Verses from Lecrae, Derek Minor, and KB give the album the diversity in flows we are accustomed to seeing from all the Reach albums. The tempo and creativeness in the beats form a perfect complement to the message that is being delivered throughout the album. The smoothness of the R&B inspired hooks give us the highs and lows that keep listeners nodding our heads and singing along.
If there were one fault that I can find with the album, it would be in the arrangement of the tracks. The order of the songs takes a listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions. While that keeps the listener engaged, I was looking for the tracks to be arranged as such that it can add a flow to the story that is being told on the project. Rearranging the tracks in more of a chronological order would provide us with an even more in-depth look of Tedashii the man. But, honestly, that’s just splitting hairs.
Below Paradise is a powerful, soul-revealing album. It is the Tedashii album we are accustomed to hearing. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be one track on the album that I would consider skipping. Below Paradise truly feels like it has been written by a man who steadfastly knows that this world is deemed to fail but has a hope in something much bigger than anything that may transpire in this life, both good and bad.