“Now I know why we can’t make love..cuz Love is what made us.”- Christon Gray
Christon Gray brings a new album “School Of Roses”, which is a very important album within Christian music, even music in general. The phrase itself is meant to be an idiomatic expression, where you basically say things like “this situation is a school of roses” or “that one is a school of roses”. However, the intent of the album is to be a lesson of his experience and growth in relationships, which makes this a very unique album.
This type of album is pretty rare in Christian circles, much less in Christian Hip Hop circles, and I feel it’s something that’s been desired for awhile now. One of the first things you begin to notice when listening to the album is that the explicit mention of Jesus or biblical terminology is low, but when you continue to listen, you can hear it embedded in the midst of it all. For some, this may be disappointing, however it’s not only a reality in our lives but biblical as well. No one can say that they’ve never been disappointed, made mistakes, or had to grow because of the different relationships or the pursuit of them in their lives. In the midst of our imperfections and growth process, we see the Lord involved in the midst of it all, and this album represented this beautifully.
The album begins with an intro that can be best described as a voice effects bonanza! In the midst of this, are simple questions that runs through the different emotions and experiences of a relationship, “When’s the last time you said I’m sorry? When’s the last time you said I love you? Do you mean it when you say I’m sorry? Or was the last time, the last time?”
After this it moves into a realm that many in marital relationships are familiar with, the temptation to be unfaithful. Christon Gray has expressed in many interviews and a behind the scenes video that he wants you to remember that you’re human at the end of this album, and one of the most important things to remember is that attraction doesn’t discriminate between any relationships. It can happen at any time, and for any reason, yet trusting in the strength of Christ can continue to produce faithfulness and it strengthens the love between you and your spouse.
The album continues with what’s probably the most explicit mention of God’s involvement and the need of Him in relationships, which is where the quote from the beginning comes from. He mentions of wanting to make love to the woman he was with, and then ending up breaking up with this same woman. He also mentions the unfortunate reality of what happens in a divorce, when he says “We exchange vows/from ‘I do’ to ‘A do’ like we exchanged vowels/sin nature made me a wind chaser/misunderstandings ‘til we only strangers/and we hold these papers/invisible documents of entitlement when we only vapors/soul damaged and my soul panic’s/a romantic gasping/slow dancing at fast speed”
What I like about the theme and purpose of this album title is that he was actually able to present his own experiences and growth through his past relationships, as well as present object lessons of other situations, just like…school. Speaking of the educational element in this album title, there are three ballads appropriately titled Roses 101,102, and 103 where he expresses through each of them the experiences and growth, good and bad that he encountered through the various relationships in his past. Each “Rose Course” shows the progression in surrendering past hurts, disappointments, and insecurities to a God who is able to make sense of them all. It is through these lessons that we learn not to,”awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4).
The album ends on a grand note, showing the ultimate love in song, by expanding on the “Arena” song from WLAK album, named “Arena (The Final Hour)”. This is such a beautiful song as he serenades our soon coming King Jesus as the Church, His Bride, awaits His return. As the album progresses on experiences and growth, the album closes out at the zenith of what love and relationships is ultimately meant to be expressed towards, God who is love. We learn that the love we show through every relationship, whether friendly or intimate, must come through Him in order to find the utmost fulfillment and direction in life.
From the many hands that were part of this project in songwriting/production(Wes Pendleton, B. Reith, Wit, Swoope, Taelor Gray, JGivens, and more) to the weaving of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual experiences of love and relationships, this is poised to be a benchmark album in music whether Christian or not. This life surely is a school of roses, and when we graduate with Christ as our thesis, we will see the One who was busy putting our bouquet together.