A Pill For Your Ills | Posted December 03, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Japhia Life (also known as "Lifey") would be considered a rap veteran whether in the mainstream or Christian hip-hop. He released his first album, Pages of Life: Chapter 1 in 2000. His second album, 2004's Hell's Diary, was considered a classic by several critics and fans alike.
He has released a few other full-length projects and several singles, and has garnered many faithful fans (including me) who stick with him even when frustrated with many delays on release dates. He is one to push the envelope in the Christian circles because of his quest to really reach those on the streets. After several delays, he finally has released Westside Pharmacy.
He gives songs that are introspective and relatable such as the banger, "I'm A Mess." He sings his own hook: "I wish I could be better, be better / Life's a blinder / I wish I could see better, see better / But I'm a Mess right now / Trying to do right / but going left right now." Hot Handz provides the beat and the far from subtle synth chords. "Last Night" is one of those songs that require a few listens just to see where he is going. The guitar and eerie sound of the whole song accent the storytelling.
Teena Jones, formerly of 4th Avenue Jones, lends her pipes to "Lifey's Revenge," the first single and a standout song. "Lifey" explains how he wants to give "life music" like that of a group like Switchfoot. This is such an infectious song in which the instruments only consist of a kick drum and electric guitar. Lifey and longtime comrade, Rob Hodge speaks on the ills of women who live vicariously in the wrong way on "Dime." Hodge provides the beat also.
"Pimp" is another one of those "did he really go there?" songs. Set to the backdrop to some ‘70s-style uptempo music, Lifey spits about a pastor who basically "pimps" the church out of money, etc. Thankfully, he does provide a balance as he points people to Christ on the slowed-down "Cloud."
Many times people (including, gulp, Christians) have criticized troubled Hollywood stars without offering a helping hand. Japhia offers Christ and an open book at his mistakes in "Letter to Lindsay (Lohan)," produced by J Rodgers.
I would like to personally shake the hand of David James for his production on the hard-hitting, "Cold Blooded." Lifey so candidly revisits a relationship that left him brokenhearted and it is one of those songs that seem as if it was written right after the breakup. Honestly this is "my jam!"
Songs "Dealin" and "The Exercise" are songs that lack luster because of bad mixing and beats that sound somewhat outdated.
Japhia will always keep it "100," meaning that he'll be honest, bold, and sometimes controversial. Westside Pharmacy is a good one with great lyrics and solid storytelling. Fans of his will really enjoy this one. If you know of someone who is skeptical of Christian artists and what they call the lack of transparency, get this one for them.