Mr. Pope - "Listen"
Review by Daniel Depres & Staff
“Listen” is a laid-back and pensive track featuring powerful lyrics and emotional performances. There is a strong sense of impact here, partially coming from how poignant the lyrics are, but also the instrumentals are all so spread out and move steadily. Even the vocal performances are drawn out, it’s quite beautiful. This forces the listener to zoom in and get sucked into the “Listen’s” atmosphere. The singing and rapping sections perfectly complement one another, adding lots of emotional layers and keeping “Listen” interesting from start to finish.
Lyrically, Mr. Pope is referencing the current state of our modern world and how fractured and divided we all are. His lyrics have a tragic weight to them of which is impossible to ignore. You feel his pain and frustration.
“Sometimes you can feel afraid when you’re lonely enough, and no words can explain, how you wanna give up”.
Coupled with the more negative lyrics are truly uplifting and beautifully written sentiments.
“We were made to be great, see no one can take what’s for you, I pray you to discover your truth, I hope you hold onto those dreams that you value the most, dreams come true”.
Mr. Pope’s lyrics are written in a way that it feels like he is talking right to you, yet they are also very poetic and written with intention and thought.
The arrangement of “Listen” provides a washy and languid instrumental bed for the vocals to soar above. While a confident hip-hop-styled beat holds down the pulse, lots of synth pads and synth flourishes create an enigmatic atmosphere. The synths are also arranged/mixed in a way that allows them to fill in their frequency range while leaving plenty of room for the vocals. Mr. Pope’s rapping style is incredibly warm and patient, he’s not trying to impress you with the super-rapid flow. He wants you to, “Listen”, to what he’s saying. Beautifully contrasting Mr. Pope’s rapping is Dany Weisman’s incredibly fervent singing in the chorus. His performance features some drawn-out inflections that are also warm and passionate. “Listen” is a dream-like song that is both relaxing and very real, it will cut right into the core of who you are and make you think.
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About Mr. Pope
Mr. Pope, born Bryan Pope, is Chicago’s voice of hope. Growing up in Chicago, Pope was forced to work hard to beat the odds. The streets of Chicago, despite its traditions of taking the lives of Black men, was where Mr. Pope knew he’d share his gift of music. He grew up with a drug-addicted father and a faith-driven mother who became a reverend. Pope was raised and inspired by the church. His participation in the choir resulted in him ministering all over the country.
In 2001, Mr. Pope entered the music scene at 16 as a Christain rapper, Prophet Child. His first LP was a self-released project that professed his love for Jesus Christ. Prophet Child’s second music project was a collaborative project with his brother, Brandon Pope, and the brothers attempted to depict the struggles they were immersed in. In 2008, Prophet Child and B Anointed released an LP, Street Gospel. Street Gospel was unlike anything they’d ever written. It was indeed, the street’s gospel rap music. The music was infused with “street” rap instrumentals and personal conflicting emotions (e.g., disappointment and contentment with the Church, disappointment, and contentment with life).
Despite his life as a God-fearing and church-involved young man, Mr. Pope was still into mainstream hip-hop and rap. Growing up with lyrical geniuses like Twista and Tupac made music could heal his communities, and his lyrics and messages could remain positive. In 2013, after being asked to write an anti-bully song to perform at schools throughout the Chicagoland area, Mr. Pope replaced the emcee name Prophet Child. Shortly after, Mr. Pope enrolled in a teaching program and received his Master’s degree in teaching.
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