rap for the mack-est of daddies

Ain't Nobody Dyin' But Us (Forefront)

By Kory Wilcoxson

Christian gangsta rap may sound like an oxymoron, but it is actually a fair strong sub-genre that's gaining popularity. In that scenario, rap veterans E.T.W. are to Christian rap what Run-DMC are to gangsta rap: forefathers who are still known to kick it and keep it real.

Ain't Nobody Dyin' But Us is a greatest hits package from the rap trio, spanning 8 years of work and a variety of styles. It's funny to hear how regular rap influenced E.T.W. For example, 1989's "I Want You Back in My Life" is almost a carbon copy of LL Cool J's "I Need Love." More recent work, especially "Elevate Your Mind" and "Momma's Prayers" follow rap trendsetters such as Tupac Shakur and Bone Thugs N Harmony.

While E.T.W. might not be setting the pace, they do a good job of keeping up. Their vocal qualities are strong and their raps hard hitting, especially the newer stuff. They've mastered the gangsta sound, in both beat and voice, and deliver with power and positivity.

Some of the older tracks sound like pure corn now, but E.T.W. was only mirroring what was popular at the time. They've done a good job of matching rap's erratic footsteps, and managed to do it while not sounding like they are ripping off anyone's style. E.T.W. may not be making original music, but with their flair and positive lyrics, it's an insignificant critique.