Royal Flush

Royal Flush

Matching street credibility with natural flow and sharp pop instincts, Flame goes from strength to strength on his seventh album, Royal Flush. Flame’s lyrics stress personal redemption while maintaining a playful tone that makes the Word go down easy. This time out, he enlists an impressive lineup of guest stars as he runs through a consistently uplifting set. The opening track (“Break the Building,” a fiery declaration of faith) and the closing number (“Start Over,” a pop-influenced tune featuring NF's urgent vocals) bookend the album with a compassionate message that reaches out to nonbelievers. In between are club-beat sermons (“Sanctuary”), fervent electronica anthems (“Game Over”), Jamaican-slanted testimonies (“Baited”), and tormented prayers over hypnotic grooves (“Maranatha”). Especially incisive is “Stackin’,” a biting commentary on greed and spiritual blindness. Flame is helped immensely by such notables as singer V. Rose (who adds a yearning edge to “Read Em & Weep”) and rappers K-Drama and D-Maub (laying down rapid-fire wordplay on “Mixed Up”).

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