Review: Javaughn Marshall – ‘Awaken The Moment’

A musician and truly humble artist, Javaughn Marshall describes himself as “an average guy that God is using to do things much bigger than I could ever do on my own”. Regardless of how true that is, what’s obvious is that Javaughn is a man of many diverse talents. A Student Ministry Pastor at Journey Church, husband, third-year theology student at Regent University, founder of Ministry Misfits podcast, founder of Twenties Multi-Media, recording artist and spoken word poet, there are few roles that Javaughn can’t fill.

Not wanting to be thrown into the usual hip-hop scene, but also not wanting to be defined simply by his faith, Javaughn sees himself as a creator, and artist who makes his music based on what life is currently throwing at him. With a penchant for acoustic guitar, singing and rap, it’s hard to predict what the diverse creative world of Javaughn will bring next, particularly when it comes to a full-length album.

In the case of ‘Awaken The Moment’, Javaughn tells the struggle of feeling stuck in a box creatively and wanting out through an array of sixteen unique tracks, bringing to the fore his full arsenal of musical talents.

Opening with ‘Boundary Line’, the album begins with a rapid flow of rap verse cloaked in a halo of ambient beats and driving passion. It’s slow-burning rap that leans on his talents as a spoken word poet and his Christian faith, backed by minimalist instrumentals and a simple, but effective refrain. It’s an impressive opening, one that is carried forward by ‘Artistic Mistake’, another rap cut that flows with purpose and a light, flickering beat. Steeped firmly in a wave of more traditional rap sounds, ‘Artistic Mistake’ finds it sound in the artful overlap of audio clips, layering spoken word, rap, and biblical verse with deft changes in tempo to make its mark.

While the pattern might have been formed in the first two tracks, it’s ‘Left the City’ that really locks it in place, and it’s not until ‘Reign in the Desert’ arrives with its smooth RnB vibes that your interest is really peaked again. It’s a short lived high that quickly descends into more formatted rap. Following cut ‘Elixir’ slows the tempo and offers feint hints of a more industrial feel, and ‘Weak Ones’ raises the energy immensely on what is possibly one of the most convincing and important tracks on the album.

Penultimate piece ‘Desolate (Final Thoughts) offers some interesting vocal choices that one can assume are meant to conjure emotion, but ultimately just leave questions, and by the time closing number ‘Accreditation’ burst onto the horizon, there is a palpable sense of relief that change and variety has come at last. Flowing with a distinct funk sound that controls the song from start to finish, ‘Accreditation’ is the track we’d be waiting for since the closing bars of ‘Reign in the Desert’.

As a rap album, ‘Awake the Moment’ is an undoubtedly strong release, one that few independent rappers would be able to achieve, but when you read the backstory and the list of accomplishments that Javaughn boasts, you can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, particularly when you can skip between songs and not feel like you've missed a beat. Javaughn might not want to be pigeonholed as simply a Christian rap artist, but with this album, that’s exactly the box he’s fallen into.

Awake the Moment’ is available now on Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes.

Score: 7/10

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