If it seems like it’s been a long time since you heard from Group 1 Crew, it has.
The crew is back with Fearless, one of its most genre-bending, infectious efforts to date.
According to its website, the group, which consisted of Blanca Reyes (lead vocals), Manwell Reyes (vocals and rap), Pablo Villatoro (vocals and rap) and Ben Callahan (background vocals and percussion), had been on a hiatus of sorts because they were going through growing pains.
In the past couple of years, Blanca’s father died; she married Ben and the Pablo left the group.
Blanca said, “One of the main changes personally is balancing being married with going on the road, and professionally, that we went from a trio to a duo.”
“That was a very scary transition as we waited to see what God had in store for Group 1 Crew after, plus right around that time, I also lost my father. So there were certainly some big tribulations and hurdles we went through, but also some really great things like marriage, all of which really added to the record and gave Fearless a lot of heart.”
These upheavals left the group wondering whether or not to go on.
Manwell said, “Throughout all the soul-searching, we found a sense of purpose, realizing the group wasn’t just a group of convenience, but of necessity. We’ve been on the road playing music and filling voids for a lot of people. We’ve had so many people tell us that they found us to be a breath of fresh air, which made us feel like we have a sense of duty to continue.”
After deciding to press on, the group focused its energy on creating, Fearless.
Here’s what you can expect on the album.
His Kind Of Love opens the album to a promising start. It’s a mid-tempo song with lovely arrangement.We hear Manwell sing, not rap, in this song which is actually refreshing because he is a good singer. Blanca also sings passionately on the song. This track deals with the question, “How does one fully comprehend, describe, explain and sing about God’s kind of love?”
The Difference is the first dance song on the album,and it is the best in my opinion. The blend of Blanca and Manwell’s voice on this well-produced track make it a fun song. On top of all that, it still manages to possess a positive gospel message.
He Said, the chart-topping first single from the album, is a pop song with good melodies and flow. It focuses on remembering what God said– His promises and how He won’t give us more that we could take. The track is a departure from what G1C is best known for, but with the help of Chris August who sings on the second verse, they soar.
G1C fans will love Dangerous. It’s an example of the G1C we all know and love. Everything, from the title of the song to the beats and Manwell’s delivery, meld nicely. The hip-hop beats and fresh urban vibes of G1C tell us to live dangerously for Christ; risk it all for Christ and be more like Him.
Going Down will make you want to “get crunk.” The song has the sick flow of Dirty South hip-hop. I can see a lot of folks two stepping to this one. Who says just cos you are a Christian you can’t have fun and two-step a little for yourself and for God’s glory.
The album title track Fearless is indeed fearless and fierce. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the album. It could easily be an anthem for Christian soldiers ready who march fearlessly into the battle field of life. The only thing that would’ve made the song more powerful, in my opinion, is if there was another guest vocalist or a mass choir that chimed in at the end.
Mr. & Mrs. ( I Do This For You) is an easy-going song about relationships, building a home and sacrificing for a better friendship and relationship. Unfortunately it is one of the songs that doesn’t really stand out for some strange reason.
Darkest Valley features Flame and Thomas Ware; it is a rap song about walking through some of life’s darkest valleys and having Jesus save us and bring light to our lives. Manwell raps “I lived a life of hell then I got saved.” It’s a good effort, but the song falls short due to arrangement and production issues.
Not The End of Me is a song about moving on after bad relationships. Sometimes people come into our lives and somehow things don’t work out so you have to pick yourself up and move on because it is all a part of God’s plan. Considering the tough few years they had this song must be a really personal one for G1C.
Freq Dat and Night of My Life are both dance songs reminiscent of of the Black Eyed Peas. Though the songs could’ve been great and added to the album, they don’t; they seemed rushed and ended up seeming cheesy.
Though Freq Dat and Night of My Life had me scratching my head, I can forgive G1C, because of the next track, Stepping Out. Stepping Out encourages us to take a step and let things flow; if we fail and fall it is all in God’s hands, so let go and let God. Blanca does all the singing in this song and Manwell harmonizes and sings backup.
The urban uplifting song Forsaken closes the album with the message of trusting God’s grace and knowing that he has our back.
In conclusion Fearless is an happy, fun, easy-going urban album with a lot of great messages. The album has no “in-betweeners;” the songs are either exceptionally good or exceptionally cliché and cheesy. Fearless is not a mind-blowing album but nonetheless an enjoyable record which will get a lot of air-play and probably snag a few awards.