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Detroit Gospel Group 21:03 Thrives When Incorporating City's Techno and Soul Background on 'Outsiders'


Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at 21:03 and 'Outsiders,' the new EP from the urban gospel group.

Week of 04/03/2015
WHO: 21:03
WHAT: Outsiders
SPOT: 184

The subject matter of a gospel album is easy to predict. It's built into the title of the genre after all. It might not strike listeners to search for regional, instrumental clues when listening to a group such as 21:03—the most important message lies in the lyrics after all. Those familiar with Detroit will immediately be able to draw a line from this urban gospel group to the city's legendary electronic scene thanks to the techno touches (with a bit of Chicago house as well) put upon tracks such as opener "Lantern" and "I'm Gonna Make It" should catch the ears of even the most secular listeners. Unfortunately we're hard-up to find the names of the producers respondsible for the tracks, due to the group's obscurity.

While those tracks are the highlights of the Outsiders EP, streamlined gospel listeners will find tidbits from a variety of styles to satisfy. "A Friend" fills the role of a straightforwards R&B ode, while closing number "Nobody Bigger" borrows a page from the book of Lecrae, realizing that it's okay to sound bad when spreading the good word. "Priority" demonstrates an edgier take to songwriting, with the duo seemingly performing as God from a first-person point of view. That takes more backbone that one might imagine.

The next question: Does this serve as a preview for a group that hasn't released a new full-length since 2011?

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