Chicago native K.C. Carter grew up with a love of music and a strong foundation in Christ. The two gifts have never been far a part as Carter has developed his musical talents over the years. Performing and recording by the age of 13, Carter recognized early on his strengths and weaknesses, and has actively worked to improve his production and rhyming skills. As a result Carter presents himself these days as a more complete artist, equally influenced by Musiq Soulchild, Common, Kanye West and Little Brother. K.C. Carter doesn’t consider himself to be a Christian artist, per se, but rather than an artist for whom his faith is the center of his life. As a result there is a strong spiritual backbone to Carter’s second album, FLP 2 (Faith, Love, Passion).
Carter opens with “FLP 2 Intro”, an ambient instrumental driven by the rhythm of someone repeatedly striking a metal pipe. The song converts from instrumental in a slow, free-style rap number part way through. “Hold Me Back” is a quietly politically explosive tune, if you can imagine it. Carter looks at the excuses we use to justify staying stuck where we are, and calls on listeners to get over it and make change happen. It’s a compelling social argument that doesn’t always play well in the modern age, but music and truth have always found their way hand in hand. They do so here as well.
“All I Have” is a gorgeous song of praise, sung in a stark a cappella arrangement. The vocal infrastructure Carter builds is striking, and pulls off some lovely tonal feats. The lyrical flow is a bit stilted at times, but overall it works quite well. “My Prayer” is an exhortation for God’s will in his life sung in urban vernacular. Carter proceeds with spirit and grace here, compelling himself and all who listen to hear a deeper calling in the world around them. In “Dream Girl” Carter attempts to construct the perquisite romantic ballad, but this one just doesn’t flow for him. Carter gets bogged down in trying to tell a story where there is none, and loses his way. “A Good Time” is an en expansive musical hybrid encompassing R&B, jazz, pop and rap. While chock full of good intentions, the end result is something of a sonic mess. Carter levels out on “Anything”, a solid album track that’s comfortable and becomes a stepping stone for Carter.
“Destiny” is a mellow pop/rap rumination on God’s plan for Carter. While addressing the issue of faith head on, Carter raps, sings and performs with a grace that is compelling. Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, you’ll walk away convinced that for Carter this is all highly personal and not a pose. He believes everything that he sings with a depth of passion that simply cannot be contrived. Carter isn’t afraid to make an impression musically, either. His “Society Menace” breaks from the gate with harpsichord and some aggressive electric guitar work, building a vibrant rock sound to go with his rap vocal ala Public Enemy. This is the absolute highlight of the disc – a point where you can actually here Carter pushing himself into new territory and having some fun in the process. From here, FLP 2 winds down quietly with “My Drive” and “Dare To Dream”.
K.C. Carter walks with the spirit, but keeps his feet in the real world on FLP 2 (Faith, Love Passion). Touching on issues of sociology, politics, love and faith, Carter is to modern music what minstrels have always been: An informer, provocateur and entertainer all rolled into one. Not every song on FLP 2 soars, but through it all Carter speaks with a passion and integrity that will move you.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Review by Wildy Haskell
The term “keeping it real” has been used a great deal in the hip-hop world, but many rappers of 2012 are not interested in “keeping it real” so much as keeping it in the fantasy realm. With their cartoonishly hedonistic emphasis on sex, money, bling-bling and expensive alcohol, they are giving audiences a big dose of escapism. But one won’t find hedonism for the sake of hedonism or decadence for the sake of decadence on KC Carter’s Faith, Love, Passion 2. The Chicago-based rapper maintains a serious, earnest tone throughout this 43-minute album, which is clearly among the more introspective hip-hop efforts of 2012.
Big chunks of Faith, Love, Passion 2 embrace the theme of a young African-American man trying to make it in the music world and stay positive despite life’s challenges. That theme is present on “Destiny” and “Hold Me Back” as well as on “Anything,” “My Drive” and “All I Have.” Carter raps about facing financial challenges, although he does so without celebrating materialism. On “Society Menace,” Carter incorporates a Biblical reference and asserts that the love of money is the root of all evil (which is quite a contrast to all the MCs who are rapping about how large their houses are, how many gold chains they have and the size of their bank accounts).
Carter doesn’t consider himself a Christian rapper per se, but he does include Christian themes on parts of Faith, Love, Passion 2. “My Prayer,” for example, finds Carter asking his savior for guidance as he makes his way through life and deals with life’s challenges. Christian imagery is present on “Dare to Dream” as well.
A romantic outlook asserts itself on “A Good Time” and “Dream Girl,” both of which have a strong neo-soul flavor. The influence of classic 1970s soul can be heard on those tunes, but in terms of production, “A Good Time” and “Dream Girl” are clearly mindful of the hip-hop and R&B of the 21st Century. But while neo-soul is R&B first and foremost, “A Good Time” and “Dream Girl” are hip-hop first and foremost; they incorporate R&B singing, but it is R&B singing in service of Carter’s rapping. While many of the recordings of neo-soul singers such as Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo are examples of hip-hop in service of R&B, “A Good Time” and “Dream Girl” are examples of R&B in service of hip-hop. And if Carter is thinking about which songs he should send to urban radio, either “A Good Time” or “Dream Girl” would be an appropriate choice. Their romantic orientation and the fact that both of them have appealing hooks make them logical radio singles; urban radio program directors might find most of Faith, Love, Passion 2 to be too introspective for their purposes, but the romanticism of “A Good Time” or “Dream Girl” make those songs the album’s best contenders for urban radio exposure.
That said, rappers who are striving for quality can’t base all of their decisions on what commercial radio stations will or won’t add to their playlists. Back in the days when urban radio stations wouldn’t play a lot of hip-hop, there were many rappers who sold millions of albums without any commercial radio exposure (it wasn’t until the 1990s that urban stations on the whole really got serious about including an abundance of hip-hop on their playlists). So if Carter is in the mood to record a lot of introspective material, he shouldn’t let program directors deter him.
Faith, Love, Passion 2 isn’t overly original. Carter’s lyrics aren’t groundbreaking, but they have a certain sincerity and earnestness that is a welcome break from all the exaggerated sex/money/bling-bling rhymes that are so plentiful in 2012. Plus, Carter’s smooth grooves and melodies (which are consistently R&B-minded, with touches of jazz at times) never fail to be infectious. All this things considered, Faith, Love, Passion 2 is a respectable, if less than distinctive, effort from this Chicago-based MC.
Review by Alex Henderson
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
There's one question that has been going through my mind lately. As an artist, do I give the people and my fans what they want, or do I make the product of my desire? There are many different aspects to this question. As an independent artist, I have more creative freedom to make the art that I want to make, but at the same time I have a responsibility to develop my sound so that I may properly target my audience. Of course I want all kinds of people to listen to my music, but I know there is going to be a certain group of people who really understand and appreciate the songs I make. So the question comes, after I have developed my sound, do I deviate from that sound and if so, when is the right time to experiment? If fans are used to hearing a certain type of sound from an artist, do they want to continue to hear that sound? I mean that is what made them fall in love with the artist in the first place right? Personally I have had disappointments from some of my favorite artist because they experimented and deviated from their "sound", For example, Lupe Fiasco" "Lasers". Anyone who know me, knows that I love Lupe's artistry and his music. When "Lasers" came out, I was extremely excited. I was expecting the same Lupe that I got on "Food and Liquor" and "The Cool". The intelligent, deep, multi-metaphorical Lupe. Instead I got more of a commercial, surface, Fiasco. Now I know I have to cut Lupe some slack, because even though this album is way more commercial than his last, he still brought that substance to his music. I also understand that he is signed to a major label and that this is a business. I'm pretty sure his label didn't give him total creative control over this album. They probably gave him some kind of guidelines to follow. My favorite songs on the album were "Words I Never Said" and "All Black Everything". Now this is not an album review, but you get the point. I was used to hearing a certain type of sound from Lupe, so I was expecting "Lasers" to be similar to his first two albums. Though I was slightly disappointed, I'm still a hardcore Lupe fan and I can't wait for his next album. With that being said, my hope is that he returns to the sound that made me fall in love with the music. Again the question arises. After establishing a sound, should an artist experiment and try new things that their fans aren't used to hearing from them? The way I see it, it's most important to make the music that is true to you. For me, I love that soulful R&B and Old School Hip Hop feel. That's my "sound". Currently I'm working on my Album FLP 2 which has that feel. However, after this album I do want to experiment and try some new things. Though I might not like it, I give props to the artist that take that risk. I don't want to be one of those artist that always play it safe. I really do want to broaden my horizon and grow as a musician, but I also want to stay true to myself and give my fans what they want. Though I might deviate some, I will always come back to that Old School, Soulful feeling that I love.
It's been three and a half years and I'm finally down to my last semester of college! Where has the time gone!? I still remember coming in as an anxious freshmen excited to live the college life. Days, weeks, Summer/Winter breaks, midterms, and finals have come and gone. It's hard to believe that approximately 12 weeks separate me from graduation and starting the rest of my life. There is a feeling of anxiety and nervousness. The time for fun and games are over. Soon it will be time for me to get a job and start paying some bills. What makes this even scarier is the fact that my degree will be in Music Production. The music industry is very competitive and hard to get in to. It's even more difficult to make a living as a musician, but not impossible. I knew this even before I chose my school and what I would major in, but honestly I didn't care. I have a strong passion for music that will never die. I know that GOD has given me this gift and this strong passion for a reason. What exactly is that reason? I've spent most of my college career trying to figure that out. I'm always asking myself, "How do I know that this is GOD's will for me?" Recently I've gotten the revelation that ultimately, GOD's will for me is to become more like Christ and to walk in his foot steps. As long as I'm following the path of Christ, I'll be in GOD's will. Even though the music I make isn't always about GOD, I can say that it's positive and inspirational and it touches others. That's the main reason why I do music. Music is not only the medium in which I choose to release my emotions and thoughts, but I want it to be something that inspires and encourage others. I've been setting goals and trying to figure out how I'm going to make my career in music take off and if it's even worth pursuing anymore. I know for a fact that GOD didn't bring me this far and give me all these opportunities to pursue my dreams, just for fun. He has a plan for my life, and in some way it involves music. Lately has been continuing to open doors, giving me the chance to nurture and grow in my gift. As long as the LORD continues to Bless me in my endeavors as a musician, I will continue to pursue it. When the time comes for me to put it aside and follow another path he has for me, I will do it willingly.