All week long I’ve been listening to Shai Linne’s newest album, The Attributes of God. I can’t recommend it highly enough! I’ve long been a fan of his “lyrical theology“, and his latest project continues to raise the bar for excellence in that area. Attributes has taken a huge leap forward musically as well. In this recent interview, the artist said he was “looking for an overall sound that was epic and cinematic, like a film score”. He has certainly succeeded in that regard. Each track has a very different feel, providing significant musical contrast and interest, while the album flows seamlessly together as a whole.
The theme of the album is, as the title suggests, the attributes of God. Linne walks us through the list of characteristics which God revealed about himself in Exodus 33:18-34:14. Each song explores one or more of the attributes, arranged in the same order that the LORD gave them to Moses.
Even if hip-hop is not your usual favorite genre, I encourage you to check out this album and others like it. The genre lends itself particularly well to exposition, as it allows for many more words than most song forms. And if you think you don’t like hip-hop, I’m convinced that the more you listen to it, the more it will grow on you! I’m also thankful for Shai Linne’s clarity of articulation: I can understand every word he says… which is not always the case among rappers!
Here are a few observations and reflections about each track. You may preview excerpts of each track on Amazon or iTunes. The entire album is also currently available on YouTube, but since I’m not certain it was uploaded legally, I’ll only share here videos that were posted by Shai Linne’s record label, Lampmode.
Track 1 — The Perfection of Beauty (featuring Blair Linne)
The album opens with a poem by Shai Linne’s wife Blair Linne, an accomplished poet and model in her own right, performing “The Perfection of Beauty”. This is a foretaste of what is to come, reminding us that as we gaze upon the face of God — as Moses did when he asked God to show him His glory — we behold true Beauty. God’s attributes “working harmoniously” form the objective and transcendent standard for what we ought to find appealing… but we exchange this true beauty for the false and empty “beauty” offered by the world.
Favorite lyric: “Your complexion is unappealing to lustful eyes / Besides, apart from new birth in Christ / Sinners beholding Your Holy beauty would die / Therefore, beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is a lie / It is found in the Beautiful One- The Most High”
Watch this performance below. Full lyrics here.
Track 2 — The Glory of God (Not to Us)
When Moses said “show me your glory”, God described his character. Here we see that He is nothing like us! God alone is worth of glory, because He is unique in all of His glorious attributes. The chorus echoes Psalm 115:1, the opening line of a hymn written by the psalmist when he also reflected on God’s holy nature.
Favorite lyrics: “Pure perfection, zero flaws / All of His attributes meet at the cross!”
Hear this track below. Full lyrics here.
Track 3 — Taste and See
God is good, all the time! We often say this, but how often do we truly reflect on what it means? I know that I am personally tempted to think God is good only when my circumstances are pleasant. But it is at the times when our circumstances try us and our faith is tested when we most need to be reminded that God is good. This is why David pleads with us to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). Once we have had a taste of God’s goodness, we are able to praise Him for his abundant blessings, as well as for sustaining us when we feel our need for Him the most.
Favorite lyrics: “Understand God is good apart from anything He’s done for me / Yet in still His goodness has blessed me abundantly” and “His Spirit enables you to fear Him and praise Him through / the tears, we can say it’s true, He’s near when we’re breaking, too”
Track 4 — Our God Is In the Heavens (featuring God’s Servant)
God’s very name exalts His sovereignty over all things. Linne returns to Psalm 115 (verse 3) for another chorus, and sings of God’s transcendence, authority, and power over His creation.
Favorite lyric: “He’s gonna get glory, we’re created to be his instruments / His reign’s inexhaustible — His rule is truly infinite”
Track 5 — The Holiness of God (Reprise)
Most of this track is instrumental, and it’s truly beautiful. All true beauty, whether in music, art, nature, or anywhere else, points to the source of all Beauty, the Holy God. The effect is amplified when the words of Scripture from Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 1:8, and Exodus 15:11, 18 are layered over top of the instrumentals toward the end. The track is listed as a “reprise”, because it makes use of the chorus of a track called “The Holiness of God” from a previous album.
Track 6 — Mercy and Grace (featuring Timothy Brindle)
The introduction to this track reminds us that, because we use the words “mercy” and “grace” all the time, they have a tendency to lose their significance. How true! To prevent this, we must constantly remind ourselves what God has done for us in salvation, and what we deserve apart from His mercy and grace.
Favorite lyric: “His grace displayed in saving the worst men / Behold, God’s riches of grace are a Person (Jesus) / Christ, the fountain abounding in His grace / Over my foul sin and mountains of mistakes”
Bonus lyric for my fellow Tennesseans: “Gain a new identity, eternal serenity / Now it’s clear we should ‘volunteer’ like Tennessee”
Track 7 — Lord of Patience (featuring Melissa T.)
In many ways, this is my favorite song on the record. The lyrics are a heartfelt prayer to God, acknowledging our sinfulness and the wrath we deserve because of it, yet praising the Lord for his long-suffering of our transgressions, and his unmerited favor toward us. It brings me to tears every time I listen to it! My own prayer life is woefully inadequate, and I am thankful for prayers like this one that help teach me how I ought to pray. If there is only one song that you click through to read the lyrics, it should be this one. Read, weep for your sin, and pray these words to the Lord of Patience! (Audio preview)
It’s difficult to choose just one favorite lyric, so instead, here is my favorite verse:
Lord, we worship You, we know that everything we owe You
And when we reflect on the time before we came to know You
How we were unbelievers committing tons of treason
We had a hundred reasons why we wouldn’t come to Jesus
But they were all excuses because our thoughts were useless
That’s what the dark produces, Father, You already knew this
We were foolish and clueless, just as ruthless as Judas
Who knew that You would choose to pursue us and move to woo us
So after waiting with patience as we would run from You
You activated our faith so that we would come to You
Your law exposed our sin so that we would know the danger
And take refuge in the Holy Savior who’s slow to anger
And as our teary eyes beheld the cross of our King
We understood the true meaning of long-suffering
Who can record Your graces? Adored through scores of ages
Your reward is the nations, for You are the Lord of patience