CD review: Fr Stan Fortuna CFR - Sacro Song 3

Sacro Song 3 was one of the more striking releases of 2009 and it’s a crying shame, if not altogether surprising, that this remarkable culmination of a remarkable trilogy did not get more publicity. Rap is not a genre always associated with affirmative messages and it is especially startling to hear it being used as a means of spreading the gospel. What immediately strikes the listener, however,  is not just how good Stan is as a rapper,  or even the musical inventiveness and virtuosity often on display,  but just how uncompromising it is lyrically.

Sacro Song 3 is less controversial than its predecessors without equivalents to the over-simplistic arguments against abortion of Never Been Born and Unborn Victims of Violence, nor the blanket condemnation of the media of The Zipper zone. That said, the tone is as irreverent as ever with B16 Bomber being a tribute to Pope Benedict XVI. What is equally striking in the latter track, however, is a spoken monologue on the meaning of the last supper. This refusal to deal in platitudes and the desire to tackle the explicit meaning of the Christian liturgy has been conspicuous throughout this trilogy.

Consequently there are snippets of conversation, a quote from Stan’s hero Pope John-Paul II, spoken monologues and poetry as well as hard rap.

There is also a pleasing lack of sentimentality, even where it might well be feared as on the series of songs stretching across all three records celebrating the worldwide family. Here,  World F.A.M.I.L.Y.(an acronym for Forget About Me, I Love You)manages to be jaunty without being cloying.
It has been argued that by embracing rap and such irreverence, Stan has descended to street level rather than raising up his audience, but apart from the sheer patronising tone of this observation it should be added that there is a surprising amount of musical beauty on his records,  and in Sacro Song 3 this is most notable not just in the opening Ave Maria, but in Bach Me Up, his tribute to that composer and in Peace Shout Out with its Eastern influences.

Fr Stan first took an interest in rap after hearing it being performed by young people in the streets of Spanish Harlem. Their lyrics expressed pain and frustration, but also joy and elation, so seemed suited to proclamation of the gospel.

In arguably his most famous track, the superb Everybody Got 2 Suffer from Sacro Song 2 (a track that reputedly left the actor Martin Sheen shaken up after hearing it), Stan rapped “Give Your Time And Your Money To The Needy Keep It Real.”  In tandem with this belief, Fr Stan is one of the eight founder members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and all proceeds from his concerts, tours and merchandise are used to help the poor. Sacro Song 3 is perhaps slightly less impressive than its predecessors but that may be more of a reflection of the talent on display since any of them are by most standards remarkable.

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