PLACERVILLE, Calif. --- In what has quickly been branded as the biggest reinvention in Adventist music history, the Heritage Singers announced today that they will release a hip-hop album. "Straight Outta da 'Ville --- NWA (Not Without the Almighty)" will be released August 1 and will feature what a press release calls "luscious lyrics of life set to an uplifting-but-super-street beat."
"I've always known that I was a rapper deep inside," said Max Mace, founder of the group and its eldest member. "I've been trying for years to get our audiences to accept me as an emcee by doing more talk-singing in our concerts. Besides, some of those high notes are killing me."
The press release gave tantalizing sneak peeks at what's on the album:
- "Kingdom State of Mind" with a chorus of: "New Earth/Golden cities where dreams are made of/There's nothing you can't do/Now you're in New Earth/These streets will make you feel brand new/God's light will inspire you/Let's hear it for New Earth, New Earth, New Earth";
- "Hip and Wise" --- chorus: "J.C., J.C., J.C., can't you see/Somehow your words just hypnotize me/And I just love your humble ways/Guess that's why I'm broke, but soon repaid, uh!"
Some beloved and classic hits also get the hip-hop treatment, including "Something Happened to My Baby Daddy," "I Know da Peazzkeepa, Yo," and "Swing Low, Sweet Low-Rider." There will also be new music, like "It's All Good in the Woods," a song about their love of nature trails, berry picking and bird watching.
"We're calling our new style 'Christian Thug' --- we can be street but still give 'Tons of Hugs,'" singer Val Mace-Mapa said.
Adventist anthropologist Ben Bradshaw sees the group's musical move as a natural and likely progression. "People don't realize that the Heritage Singers and hip-hop artists have a lot in common: 1.) They don't like to do a lot of dancing but prefer to walk around and/or stand in one place on stage; 2.) They both like to raise their hands during concerts, but hip-hop artists just call it 'raising the roof'; 3.) They always have an entourage; 4.) They both invest in a lot of dental work. For hip hop artists, it's grillz; for the Heritage Singers, it's teeth whitening," said Bradshaw.
Mace noted that some of their fan base might be critical of and initially offended by the new direction and style of music they are undertaking, but sought to calm fears. "There's no need to worry," said Mace. "There will be ZERO voodoo beats. Tim Davis will be doing all the beat-boxing. And anything that could, in the faintest, sound or seem inappropriate will be done on a synthesizer."
"I don't see what the big fuss is about the Heritage Singers doing a hippopotamus album," said 82-year-old Dorothy Brown, one of the select few sent a preview album. "They're trying to bring Adventist generations and cultures together. I like that they're trying.
"Don't hate, appreciate!"