Let it Shine
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed By: Walt Disney Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the new Disney Channel movie, Let it Shine, Tyler James Williams stars as Cyrus DeBarge, a musical director at an Atlanta, Georgia church run by his father, Preacher Jacob DeBarge (Courtney B. Vance). Cyrus' love of hip-hop is shunned by his father who believes that hip-hop is the devil's music. Cyrus also has obstacles on the romantic front as, unable to express his feelings to childhood friend and recording artist Roxanne Andrews (Coco Jones), Cyrus writes a love song for a freestyle rap competition under an assumed name. The song wins the competition, but his best friend Kris McDuffy (Trevor Jackson) receives the credit for the song and the attention of the girl it was written for. Can Cyrus overcome his fear and self-doubt fast enough to win the heart of his crush, show the world his talent and prove to his father that hip-hop can be used to convey a positive message?
The Let it Shine Soundtrack features hip-hop, R&B and rap performed by the cast of the movie. Tyler James Williams has a decent singing voice and can rap fairly well...so can Brandon Mychael Smith for that matter...but the real star on this album is Coco Jones whose strong vocals shine whether she's singing R&B, funk or gospel.
When I first listened to this soundtrack, I wasn't all that impressed. The music wasn't all that exciting, the rap battles seemed a bit childish and the songs really didn't grab me the first time around. However, the second time around, I found that, although still lacking compared to other Walt Disney Records releases, Let it Shine does have that positive message one looks for in an album of this caliber. And yet, I really couldn't get into the music. In fact, my favorite songs were Joyful Noise and Let it Shine, two gospel tracks by the cast which offered up such enthusiastic hope and joy that I couldn't help but enjoy them.
As for the rest of the album, I can see what Disney was trying to do, reaching out to the young generation and instilling a positive message through a genre that too often is infused with negativity. They succeed somewhat, but Let it Shine just doesn't have that edge that will make it a best seller in my book. This is one soundtrack I would have rather passed up.