Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

This article is co-authored by Carlos Williams, Mike Myslinski, and Steven Widman.

Introduction:

It started out as an idea. We had all known each other for a while. Carlos and I met back in 2012 when he did a show at The Rock. I met Myz when he asked Los and I to open for him at The Ember in 2013. I met Steven when we both found out we liked Andy Mineo in choir class and went to his St. Paul concert in 2016. After C-Los finished produced Steven’s mixtape in November, he had the idea of the four of us coming together to do a single (which would later become “Tuesday”) and that expanded into forming a group and making an album. After three months of recording, writing, mixing, and getting the project mastered and marketed, The Forks released our debut album Shoot For Teams on February 16, 2018. We’ve been blessed with this opportunity and we felt it would be a fun experience to write a commentary piece about the album. Without further ado, The Forks presents…

Shoot For Teams: Behind The Music

1. In The Presence (ft. MyzBeatz & C-Los)

This song was written to be hype for getting into God’s presence! Time with Him is essential and irreplaceable in the life of a follower. Living water will flow through us and effect others; we engage when we spend time with Him. We have Him leading from our quiet place together. That’s what this song is about! – M

This song evolved from an idea from another song. “Coram Deo” is the key phrase in this one. It simply means “to be in the presence of God.” Myz and I wanted to communicate the importance of being in God’s presence. For me, my decisions should flow from that place. Favorite Line: “You’ll never be in His presence if you just come for presents, but if came to feel his presence, you might get a present.” If you anticipate God’s presence and not just the benefits it brings, you get all those things. But we worship God, because He’s God. – C

2. The G.O.A.T. (Ft. SW & 2K)

I think this song was just for fun, just to get into the studio and show what God has given us and knowing that we do it all through him. Nothing that I have is from my own power or my own strength. – S

Steven and I each took a song to come with conceptually. Steven took the other song, and I came up with this one. From the moment we heard Los’s beat, I was hooked. It was big and bold and fast and I knew we needed to write material to match that. And then the idea came: if our God is for us, than who can stop us. We took that premise and built the concept of the God of All Time. Steven and I each wrote our verses and would meet once a week to touch base, and then break off and keep improving, which is resulted in an escalation of us wanting to bring our best and the best out of each other. I’m very honored by and proud of this song. – K

3. Let Me Go (ft. C-Los & MyzBeatz)

I’d just got back from Guam. I spent a few months out there for work, and I had a pretty nice vibe out there while I was making music. The song itself sounds like you’re on the beach or poolside hanging out! But truth be told, I had a moment where God just started speaking to me through the hook I wrote for the song. I think we all have a moment in life where you question God and whether or not he cares for me, because a lot of the things that were going on in the world around me, happening to people who looked like me. I’m also always thinking about making sure my family is being taken care of to the best of my abilities and how I can insure their future. God told me not to worry about it. So I’m trying to do that! – C

This track is about the battle of mind games and defeating doubt. Instead of letting the enemy defeat us in our mind, we need to remember the truth in Christ and His promises for us about who we are! It’s a real battle at times, but He never let’s us go. – M

4. Nomads (ft. SW, 2K & MyzBeatz)

Nomads was more of an encouragement song for our fellow brothers and sisters who are sharing the Gospel and sometimes may be unmotivated to do so, or sometimes have a hard time sharing. We’re just giving some encouragement for that. – S

Myz, Steven, and I were brainstorming over at Myz’s apartment and he had the idea of it sounding like being in a desert and the idea of wandering like the Israelites. We each came to that with a different perspective. I came with the viewpoint of modern day Christians feeling like they’re wandering and lost because of ridicule or discouragement that they might be feeling for their faith. My favorite part of this song is absolutely Myz’s vocals when he sings “This for the Nomads/Never going back.” – K

This song is about continuing to share Jesus even though it is difficult at times. We can feel like wanderers or drifters in our lives and feel like we are the only ones carrying out the faith! But Moses and other biblical characters were faithful. This track is built to encourage those to keep sharing their faith no matter how many rejections you’ve faced or how difficult it can be. – M

5. Stuck in a Trap (ft. SW & C-Los)

Stuck in a Trap was just a message that I wanted to share. I’ve had a few people in life that aren’t saved that have told me that they feel too tainted for God’s love and God’s grace, and it’s something that hurts to hear. But also, Jesus can give them the hope of what the Gospel actually says about this situation. With this song, even in the process, there was a time where I was going through a difficult time with my own walk and I listened to this song and it actually spoke to me in that time. I truly hope and pray this song changes somebody’s way of thinking. God will do the work. – S

I’m starting to like trap music. Not the lyrics that most rappers rap over it, but the style of hip-hop itself. I think SW and I did an exceptional job of making sure there was substance in our lyrics for this one. This may be the more important message I want people to hear from this album. Falling into temptation often seems like repeatedly falling into a trap. It’s a lot harder to see God in dark places, but He is in fact there and ready to pull you out of the trap you can’t seem to break free of. – C

6. Step Yo Game Up (ft. SW & 2K)

“Step Yo Game Up” was more of a competitive song as well as a message of what I’ve been seeing lately as far as people worshipping things that are worthless. But there’s definitely a competitive aspect that says “I have this God-given talent, and I have what it takes to be good at this.” I just need to prove it, and I do it through music. – S

Steven took point on this one. We approached it as a sort of sequel to his song “The Reason” from his Reminiscent mixtape. I always thought of it being like us saying “look what God has given us and what we can do through him”. It’s also us talking about the idea of false idols and that we need to step our game up in recognizing them and helping others find the truth. – K

7. Tuesday

When Los brought up the idea of doing a song with all four of us, I was excited. It was going to be a cypher of sorts, a way to get in and out fast and show off skills. So I approached the first verse of Tuesday as an opportunity to introduced myself and the group at the end of the album and I wrote just that, an introduction for the finale. – K

“Tuesday” was just a blessing to be a part of. It was originally C-Los and Myz’s song, but they allowed us to be on it. I just wanted to contribute the best I could! The message was just more of a “don’t sleep on ‘The Forks’ crew because we have God-given talent and we’re gonna use it for Him.” – S

This track is just fun and rapping for Jesus. Before SFT, Carlos and I did most of our studio time on Tuesday nights as we worked on music! This is a banner to come together as a group and competitively slay this beat with one another. – M

When we were recording Myz’s mixtape, Phenom4Eons, a lot of times, Tuesday was the only day of the week that he could come over to record. So when we did get together, we had to make the most of it, getting as many quality recordings for as many songs as we could. As believers, we are instructed to give our best at everything we do. For us and the process of creating music, that was a Tuesday. – C

 

Shoot For Teams is available on all digital stores and streamers or right here. You can also find The Forks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @TheForksRap.

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M A N I A: A Review

M A N I A: A Review

Introduction:

Fall Out Boy is one of the most popular punk rock bands of all time. Founded in 2001 by lead vocalist Patrick Stump, lead guitarist Joe Trohman, bassist Pete Wentz, drummer Ben Rose, and rhythm guitarist T.J. Kunasch. Rose left the group very early and was replaced by Mike Pareskuwicz in 2001. In 2002, Kunasch exited the group and was replaced briefly by Brandon Hamm, who served as rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist before relinquishing the role to Stump and exiting the band. The band released their debut album, Take This to Your Grave, in 2003. That same year, Mike Pareskuwicz left the band was replaced by current drummer Andy Hurley. In 2005, the band released their hugely successful sophomore album, From Under the Cork Tree. This was followed by Infinity On High in 2007, and Folie á Deux in 2008. In 2009, the band took a hiatus, which proved threatening to the mental healths and the careers of the members of the band. In 2013, Fall Out Boy made their triumphant return with Save Rock and Roll. They followed that up with American Beauty/American Psycho in 2015. Now comes their latest release, M A N I A. 

1. Young and Menace

The opening song sets a tone that differentiates it from previous FOB efforts. The production is bold and electric in nature, but overall, it’s a new style for the band. It’s hard to really grasp what they’re going for. It’s not a bad song, but it’s very different.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: C-

2. Champion

This sounds more like Fall Out Boy. Stump’s vocals are solid. It’s their signature anthem song that they have on every album now. The arrangements of vocals and instruments are good. It’s a good song and really works for what they want it to be. The production is very complimentary of the songwriting. It’s not their best song of all time, but it’s the best of the album so far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

3. Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea

The vocals and songwriting are on it from the start. It’s actually a pretty good song and feels like an anger-driven, modern rock song. The production is sleek again, but it’s also really solid. This is a good song all around with the more upbeat pacing and “get after it” atmosphere.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

4. HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T

The whistles and fun tropical production sets the tone for a great song from the start. Stump’s vocals are really strong here. The songwriting is solid, but it’s the production and vocals that truly shine in this song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

5. The Last of the Real Ones

The pianos set up something cool here. The production is really good. The songwriting is actually really good. This one feels like an AB/AP song and it’s great. What could be a hidden allegory for them being the last of the “real ones”, as in the punk rock era is also a really solid story song. This one is the true gem of the album. This is the best song on the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

6. Wilson (Expensive Mistake)

Stump turns in a solid performance with this one. The songwriting is solid but it’s not their best. It’s a good song that really delves into the subject of regrets. It’s actually a solid entry for what’s been a disappointing album so far.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

7. Church

The use of choir vocals elevates the song. Stump’s vocals are great. The production and arrangement is actually really good. The songwriting is catchy and good. Overall, it’s another solid entry.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

8. Heaven’s Gate

Stump’s vocals and performance are stellar. He gets a chance to really croon over some drums and light pianos and funky guitars. The songwriting is really good. This album has picked up on the second half especially with this soulful R&B song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

9. Sunshine Riptide (ft. Burna Boy)

The trap beat backed tune is supposed to be a laid back fun one, but the songwriting doesn’t reflect the production. Burna Boy knows what he’s making but he doesn’t full mesh. Stump’s vocals are on point and the production is really good. Overall, it feels muddled.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: C

10. Bishops Knife Trick

The production suggest a jovial, laid back finale. Stump presents a final R&B-style sendoff. It’s not great song from a writing perspective, but the production is fantastic. Stump is pretty good in this last song. Sadly, I think this finale doesn’t really make too much more of an impression than the premier song.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: C

Conclusion:

What once was one of the best punk rock bands of all time has slowly deteriorated into Alternative Pop. Their last album was fantastic and following it up was no small feat, but this project just doesn’t stack up. While there are a few gems in it, it’s just too muddled and half-baked to be considered any good as a whole.

Album Rating: 6/10

Grade: C-

SonRize: A Review

SonRize: A Review

Introduction:

C-Los is a CHH rapper who has been around since 2011. Debuting with SonRize in 2012, which he released in partnership with former band member Echo II, Carlos Williams followed it up with his singles Come in 2014, Show N’ Tell Remix (ft. Empty Vessel, Reschad Oliver, and MyzBeatz) in 2015, Give Me a Chance (ft. Benjah) in 2016, the award-winning Together (ft. MyzBeatz) in 2016, and New Me Knew Me in 2017. He also works as a producer under the name Beats By C-Los and has produced many projects including Phenom4Eons by MyzBeatz, Onomatopoeia by Kaleb Koho, and Reminiscent by SW. To conclude the series of reviewing members of The Forks’ solo projects, here is SonRize, plus some mini bonus reviews of the individual singles that he released subsequently in this special edition of #MusicMonday, releasing exclusively to you on the Thursday prior to the release of The Forks’ debut album Shoot For Teams.

1. Catch Tha’ Vision (Intro)

C-Los flows well on this techno style beat. His urgency is felt and hypes up what we’re about to hear throughout the album. It’s a marching anthem to move us to action while also setting the tone of the entire project. It’s an effective intro.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

2. Live for Christ (ft. Empty Vessel)

This synth-style pop beat is really cool and different from what we hear in rap traditionally. The song is a mission call to allow your life to represent the ideals of Christ. The song is very well produced and the feature from Empty Vessel is nice addition. It’s a little cheesy, but overall it’s a solid second song.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

3. Bass Pound

The bass on this song is the highlight, but the production is really groovy. C-Los’s performance is on point and his lyricism is great. The hook is very catchy and infectious. This is best track so far on the project.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

4. Walk It Out

This song has a higher energy to it, from the busy production to the urgent lyricism. The call to live out what you say in public is captured in a three word hook that infects the listener with a need to dance.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

5. Faithful

Another pop-style beat that is truly smooth and synthetic. Echo II raps in Japanese and English. Despite the different languages, the sentiments and emotion carry and present an amazing song. The hook is great with stellar vocals. C-Los takes verses two and three and kills it. The lyricism is fantastic throughout. This is the best song so far on the album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

6. Purpose (ft. Nancy Williams)

The intro is a little long but it shows off the sleek production and sets a mood. C-Los spends the song contemplating about his purpose and relationships. We are introduced to his wife Nancy in this song and her vocals are absolutely splendid. They contribute to the mourning and introspective atmosphere greatly. This is my new favorite so far.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

7. Breathe (ft. Bleef, Katsu, and Jim Dostal)

The production changes enough to distinguish it’s a new song, but it flows directly from the last song. The production is amazing. Bleef goes first and delivers a verse with amazing lyricism and performance. Hope Church worship pastor Jim Dostal sings the hook and his voice is haunting and an incredible addition. C-Los goes second and continues to salvation themes of the album, presenting the idea of reading and obeying the Bible as being as important as breathing. Katsu raps in almost exclusively Japanese, but he delivers his sentiments and emotions well. It’s a great sequel to last song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

8. Dead to Sin

Things pick up a bit with this track. Things get intense and epic in the production as the brass horns and strings signal a war song. C-Los’s performance is great. His vocals are on point. Echo II delivers an equally solid performance. It’s not a song I’ll revise a lot, but it’s a solid track.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: B+

9. Fire (ft. Reschad Oliver)

The synths in this song are on point. The production is electric and groovy. C-Los rides the beat like it’s nothing. His lyricism is absolutely stellar. Reschad also delivers a solid voice. Overall, this song lives up to its name: straight fire.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

10. This Is a War

Sampling a very intense speech, the song is a war song. It’s very loud and amped up to eleven. The song really backs up the title. It’s urgent and the production is really great and backs it up. The lyricism is good. Overall, it feels like it’s a trying a little too hard, but it’s still a good song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: B+

11. My Song (ft. Yashi and Nancy Williams)

Yashi’s vocals are unbelievably good. It’s a very well produced song, giving off sunny and fun vibes. Nancy’s vocals are great too, very complimentary of the piece. C-Los’s lyricism is absolutely on point. It’s a really fun song and is easily one of the best of the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

12. Nothing Without Him

The synthetic and groovy production, led by pianos and strings, is what really sets this song apart, along with C-Los’s performance and vocals. His lyricism is absolutely stellar. The song captures his story and his reliance on God in a really honest and organic way.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. Heat It Up

The production throughout the album has been phenomenal and this one is no exception. It’s C-Los and Echo II’s lyricism and performances that really set this one apart as one of the best of the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

14. Show N’ Tell

The song is long, but it eats up every second of playtime. The production reaches an all-time high, along with the lyricism and performances of both C-Los and Echo II. This is easily the best song of the album, if not of C-Los’s catalog.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

15. Go

This song is a solid follow-up to what we just heard. It’s a really hype and well made. The performances and lyricism are straight fire. There is a lot going in the production which becomes my only issue with the song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: B+

16. Sonrize (ft. Da’ Light and Nancy Williams)

This techno finale drives the point of the album home hard. Nancy’s performance is absolutely great and her vocals add a ton. Da’ Light delivers a really solid verse with a performance similar to that of Kendrick Lamar. Echo II rounds out the album and the group drives it all home. It’s a solid mission song and a good finale.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

17. Hold On (ft. Nancy Williams) [Bonus]

This beautiful epilogue serves as an anthem of hope to the people of Japan after the hurricane that rocked the nation. Nancy’s vocals are great and Sonrize’s performances are emotional and genuine. It’s a very human song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

Conclusion:

The album is full of really great ideas and some really fantastic songs. C-Los really stands out as a great producer and rapper. His lyricism and performances are consistently really good. The only real issue I have with the album is that it’s very long, but it makes up its length by having a ton of really good songs. Overall, it’s a high ranking album for me and a really impressive debut album.

Album Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

Bonus Reviews: The Singles

1. Come

This song is so well crafted. From the production to the lyricism to the performance, C-Los paints a picture of a broken heart that needs Jesus and his conversation to save him.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. Show N’ Tell (Remix) [ft. Empty Vessel, Reschad Oliver, and MyzBeatz]

Any reason to revisit this song is a good one. The song changes just a little bit production wise, but C-Los and friends go in and have fun with it. Myz & Los deliver knockout verses. The overall lyricism is great. The performances are solid. While it isn’t better than the original, it’s a worthy sequel.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

3. Give Me a Chance (ft. Benjah)

This song is an emotional plea against abortion and man does C-Los paint a realistic and emotional picture. He even brings in hip-hop vocal legend Benjah! It’s a really emotional piece that lands just right.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

4. Together (ft. MyzBeatz)

This important song is an earnest call for peace and healing in a race war that’s been permeating the police vs citizens battle. Each offers an honest perspective of the situation and work together to tell the story. The production is fantastic. The lyricism and performances are what really shine.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. New Me Knew Me

The most recent solo release from C-Los is very groovy and fun, with great production and solid lyricism. The premise is solid, but it feels just a little flat to me. It’s not my favorite of his catalog, but it’s certainly not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B