Church Clothes 3: Old School Hip-Hop Feel With a New Message

Chances are, when you think hip-hop, you think of names like: Lil Wayne, Drake, Big Sean, Eminem, and Busta Rhymes to name a few.


If that’s the case, then you are seriously missing out on one of today’s greatest rappers. Yet, unlike the names above, Lecrae doesn’t rap about name brands, the number of cars he drives, drinking Patron, or even about different ways he can sex women.

The reason why Lecrae is one of my favorite rappers of all time is because his music is still bumping (the beats are even sicker than those of the hip-hop artists mentioned above) while his lyrics are not emotional. They just contain substance and spirit which is all how he’s changed the game for Christian hip-hop.lecrae

Remaining true to his beliefs, Lecrae is an artist that redefines mainstream popular culture. Thematically, one can find inspiration, faith and honesty in his music. But it’s more than that and yet it is quite transparent. If Oscar Wilde was correct when he said, “Most people are other people, their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation,” it’s simple to understand the easy attraction to Lecrae. In a sea of indulgent music, he’s swimming against the tide embracing all the things that make him the man he is, including his faith. And at the heart of it all, Lecrae is pleased to share the secret to his success. He explains, “I just have to have integrity and be true to who I am and what I believe in. Music doesn’t need to be categorized. It just needs to be good.” Indeed Lecrae is at the climactic crossroad of his career.

For the past few years, Lecrae has been the epitome of transcendence. What started as a practical approach to mentoring the youth population at a local juvenile detention center has led to a worldwide mission. As an artist, Lecrae has nearly reached the pinnacle of success. He’s released seven bestselling albums and two mixtapes, won a Grammy award in the process and landed a global distribution deal with Red Distribution/Sony Music for the record label he co-owns, Reach Records. In 2010, Lecrae released the critically-acclaimed album Rehab. It debuted in the Top 20 on the coveted Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. By 2011, Lecrae released a follow-up album, Gravity, scoring the #1 pole position atop the Rap Album and Independent Album charts and debuting at #3 on the Billboard Top 200. He’s since performed at the BET Hip Hop Awards, contributed to Statik Selektah’s mixtape and collaborated with a litany of hip-hop veterans and producers. In between albums, Lecrae produced and released Church Clothes, his own mixtape, hosted by radio legend Don Cannon. It featured production by Boi-1da, 9th Wonder, S-1 and Street Symphony, an indication that Lecrae’s positive message has been well received by his contemporaries. In fact, the mixtape earned a double platinum rating and debuted at #10 on iTunes (Reach Records).

Church Clothes 3 was released on January 15, 2016 debuted at #12 on the Billboard Hot 200 and #1 on the Billboard Christian music charts.

      Song by Song Review

“Freedom”: The opening track to this mixtape starts out directly addressing child prostitution that occurs even here in America in the form of sex trafficking and child pornography and features American soul sing N’Dambi.

“Gangland”: Directly addressing gang issues in different parts of the U.S., this track features rapper Propoganda whose verse notes the irony that many Christians have cared about Tom Shoes, & Gay Marriage, while ignoring the fact that they are essentially passing over the bodies of dead black people and turning a blind eye to the major hardships of urban youth in their backyard.

“Deja Vu”: Probably one of my favorites off the album because of the musicality (the use of a jazz piano throughout the track), it addresses the presence of God’s goodness in one’s life in the midst of the world’s chaos. My favorite line in this song is:

“Rich man need a vacation, hop a plane
Broke man need a vacation, Mary Jane.” 

“Sidelines”: This song will have you like:9e891a70a4e9959dc68827a3f15fc62f.480x270x79

This track addresses Lecrae’s critics who accuse him of being part of the Illuminati and collaborating with secular artists like E-40. It also addresses how other hip-hop artists have self-righteous songs that brag on them instead of building up today’s youth.

“Cruising”: This track has the feel of one of those low-riders musically with lyrical content similar to Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day,” addressing a day in the life of Lecrae and his walk with the Lord.

“It Is What It Is”: My favorite track off the record because it reminds me of my dad’s own trademark phrase, this track has an old-school hip-hop feel but addresses those who criticize Lecrae but he’s not letting it get him down, he’s going to keep doing what he’s doing: living out his God given calling and putting out music that challenges mainstream popular culture, and loving on his woman and his family. Yes, Lecrae. The Smart Cookie has your back!

“Can’t Do You”: The first time I heard this track, I was all like:drake-13.w529.h352

This track is a club banger for sure and features mainstream rapper E-40, this track once again addresses issues like criticism and comparison. Lecrae is quoted as saying that this song addresses: “In the social media age that we live in, it seems everyone voices their opinions on how you should do you. If you play sports, there’s the coach potato sitting on the couch being a coach.”<—He always knows how to word what I’ve dealt with. Thank you Lecrae.

Lecrae and E-40 back in December 2014 when this song was in the works

“Forever”: A song dedicated to Lecrae’s wife, he follows tradition with dedicating at least one track on every album and mixtape to his wife. Challenging the mainstream rappers who brag on the number of side chicks or phones they have, this is a refreshing glass of hip-hop brandy talking about how much he loves this one woman. #RelationshipGoals


“Misconception 3”: Following suit of every Church Clothes mixtape, Misconception 3 addresses seeing things you wouldn’t expect such as a Donald Trump (famously against illegal immigration) at a taqueria. The musicality of the track is from Nas’s “New York State of Mind.” Lecrae’s verse on the track addresses being made in God’s image and how each of us is responsible for being as creative as God is. Some feel that our reason, self-determination, and creativity reflect the image of God. Creativity, specifically, is referred to as dynamic. Unlike animals, we have the ability to create and design. The track features  John Givez, JGivens and Jackie Hill-Perry.

“I Wouldn’t Know”: Following suit of his other famous tracks “Fakin” and “Nuthin,” the last track on the Church Clothes 3 mixtape addresses how “real recognizes real” and so does God in the end. This track features fellow labelmate KB. My favorite line off this track is:

You ain’t runnin’ the streets, you just runnin’ your mouth
I don’t hear what they speak

because of it directly addresses the majority of mainstream hip-hop how its all about what you say but there is nothing of value to show for all that the rappers brag about.

Church Clothes 3 and Lecrae’s chart-topping accolades have led to the release of a memoir-style book on Christian living called Unashamed which tells of the singer’s life story behind his musical success, and has since made the New York Times’s bestseller list.

Lecrae was signed to major label Columbia Records as of May 12, 2016 and once again proves that when you “seek first the kingdom of God, all these things will be added unto you,”(Matthew 6:33) and “with God, all things are possible”(Matthew 19:26). #CongratsLecrae

#MusicReview: #ThankYou by @meghan_trainor

There are many trains to jump on nowadays. Yet, if you’re smart like myself, you’ll hurry up and join the MTrain bandwagon. Meghan is no newbie in terms of music. She’s been writing songs since she was 11 years old growing up in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Her first ever published song was 19 when she co-wrote a song with country duo Dan and Shay and “DJ Tonight” and “I Like The Sound of That” were born, and later cut by country supergroup Rascal Flatts. At the young age of fifteen, she home-produced her first three albums, Meghan Trainor, I’ll Sing With You (acoustic), and Only 17. Trainor attended Berklee College, and is a musical prodigy with the ability not only to write and sing songs but she can play piano, guitar, ukelele, percussion, and trumpet.


Not only is Meghan a musical force to be reckoned with at the young age of 22, she’s a prominent voice for body love no matter your size and self-love being the healthiest and most important form of love other than the healthy relationship Trainor has with her adorable parents, who supported her from the moment she was 12 years old, and told her dad she was going to be a pop star, and he would need to buy her a tour bus. Her personal style is ’50’s crooner meets the timeless beauty of Marilyn Monroe. She’s helped me and millions of other girls see that you should love yourself for who you are, and never be ashamed for what you look like even if you aren’t a size 2. #ThankYouMeghan

Meghan wrote “All About That Bass” but found no artists would use it. With incredible gutsiness, Trainor performed it on ukelele for Epic Records chair, L.A. Reid. It was released as her first single as a signed artist on June 30, 2014, and its music video became a viral sensation. “All About That Bass” reached number one in 58 countries and became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with worldwide sales of 11 million units as of December 2014.

Trainor’s three home-produced albums were pulled from circulation in anticipation of her major label album, Title, which was released on January 9, 2015. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 charts, making Meghan the 13th artist with a #1 single and #1 album. It was the 9th best-selling album worldwide of 2015.

Thank You was released on May 13, 2016 from Epic Records and musically inspired by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and Bruno Mars.

Song by Song Review

     “Watch Me Do”: A James Brown feel, this song produced by Ricky Reed, is a sassy self-love anthem about “doing your thing.” My favorite part is the bridge: I’m the shhh, be quiet/I’ve been on a low-hater diet.

 “Me Too”: This has to be my favorite off the album right now mostly because it’s so catchy and it’s the second single off the album. It’s Trainor’s club banger co-written with Jason Derulo that once again promotes self-love in a healthy way and good luck not dancing to this one when you hear it. The video for this was pulled because a heavily edited version photoshopped Trainor’s waist to an unrealistic size and she pulled it because it gave mixed messages. Once again, #ThankYouMeghan


The first single off the album, about a hard rejection, and standing up for being okay with your independence while out at a club or a party, it’s Trainor’s joke with L.A. Reid. The track is a powerful woman’s anthem.

“Better:” Containing soca elements and featuring, Yo Gotti this track is about realizing that the person you are seeing isn’t up to your standards, and letting them know that.

“Hopeless Romantic”: This is one of my favorites off the album because this track is my response to all those Nicholas Sparks movies, saying how they set one’s expectations at a unrealistic level but either way, I’m not giving up on love. It reminds me of an old-school ballad.

“I Love Me”: This is another favorites off the album because it’s just too catchy not to dance and sing along too. It’s a song celebrating who you are as an individual. Featuring Lunch Money Lewis, it reminds me of a song that you can dance to or kids to double-dutch to.

“Kindly Calm Me Down”: A piano ballad that shows sassy Trainor’s vulnerable side. Trainor wrote it when she 18 about her father’s battle with cancer and she pitched it to fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera who didn’t cut it because it didn’t fit her album when it was in its final stages.

“Woman Up”: Co-written by Hot Chelle Rae bae Nash Overstreet and Taylor Parks, this girly song is about being strong after a break-up with dance pop musicality complete with reggae elements.

“Just a Friend To You”: A track written and performed on a ukelele, it’s a song about seeing a friend as more but you can’t do anything about it because the circumstances aren’t right.

“I Won’t Let You Down”: With Carribean vibes, the song comes off as if Trainor is singing to her parents but it’s actually a self-actualization song about bettering oneself.

” Dance Like Yo Daddy”: A song inspired by dancing with her dad in the music video for “Better When I’m Dancing” which she wrote for the Peanuts movie, it’s a song she co- wrote with Kevin Kadash for both her dad and for the love of dancing.

 “Champagne Problems”: A dancy song she co-wrote with Ryan Tedder last for the album after she had a problem with the album and her manager said to her, “Don’t forget. You have champagne problems.” It’s a song about problems that are so miniscule you don’t really need to worry about them.

    “Mom”: Featuring Kelli Trainor in the bridge, this “mom song” is one that can bring emotion and fun. This song is showing Meghan’s thanks to her mom for being the best mom she can. She is also expressing the love her mom gives towards her, to her fans and of course, her mother! As someone who’s best friends with her own mom, I love this song a lot because it has the same musicality of “Dear Future Husband” but brags on moms everywhere.

 “Friends”: Co-written with Ryan Tedder, it celebrates spending time with friends with a sound much like a “Bob Marley track.”

“Thank You”: The title track off the album where Trainor personally thanks her fans for helping her live her dream everyday it features R City and leaves the album on positive note.

Overall, this is another solid banger of an album and for that, we’d all like to “Thank You” to Meghan for being such a light musically and teaching young people to be okay with who they are. You are a role model and are the only popstar I know who does press in a onesie and heels. Keep slaying, girl.



#MusicReview: Lemonade by Beyonce`


Idolatry is alive and well in 2016. Don’t believe me? Just say the name Beyonce` in a public place and tell me what happens. The usual reactions are both men and women sobbing, people getting in formation of all races and genders, and someone yelling “YAASSS QUEEN!”

The Ebony beauty with the Cotton Candy Pipes released a new album following her April 23 HBO Special of the same name exclusively via Tidal, a music streaming service only found on smart devices. Lemonade is Beyonce` ‘s 6th studio album and is currently retailing at 17.99 for a hard copy.

Song by Song Review

    “Pray You Catch Me”: The ballad opens with Beyonce` crooning: “You can taste the dishonesty it’s all over your breath,” and so sets the main theme of the album: the bitter cross of infidelity and being cheated on. Musically, you hear elements of a church organ in parts like she’s bringing her troubles straight to the altar.

    “Hold Up”: My favorite line on this track is “Been walked all over lately, I’d rather be crazy.” That is lyricism at its finest but with this track, Beyonce`’s musicality contains Carribean elements, paying homage to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Soulja Boy.

    “Don’t Hurt Yourself”: Featuring Jack White, this is Beyonce` meets rock n’ roll. She’s channeling Tina Turner and Jimmy Hendrix on this track.

      “Sorry”: The anthem of the entire album because of the heavy I AM FEMALE lyrical content. This song is for any woman who’s been done wrong by a man anytime, anywhere. The hook alone is a pop culture phenomenon: “Middle fingers up, put them hands high
Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye
Tell him, boy, bye, middle fingers up
I ain’t thinking ’bout you.
I ain’t sorry.” They even have yellow shirts with the phrase “Boy, Bye” on sale on Google. This is my favorite song on the entire album.

    “6 Inch”: A R&B hit in the making, the track features the Weeknd, and has a strip club vibe about it musically. For me, it salutes any hard-working woman out there listening.

    “Daddy Lessons” This is heavily played on Beyonce’s Pandora station. Opening with a trumpet solo, it pays homage to Beyonce’s childhood back in Texas and talks about her relationship with her father, and has the can’t miss line: “My daddy warned me about guys like you.”

     “Love Drought”: R&B musicality, this track is an airy plea to reinvigorating a relationship riddled with trust issues and insecurities. It was co-produced by Kanye West’s long time collaborator, Mike Dean. He’s the reason behind the track’s floating synth line and rich bass section. This track was made two years prior to its release.

    “Sandcastles”: A piano ballad song and played by Beyonce this was inspired by the late Prince's advice to Beyonce to learn how to play the keys to really make music that sticks with people. Like the waves that wash “Sandcastles” away, reality has tested this marriage and the promises that were made. Now Beyoncé starts to think about what comes next.

      “Forward”: A short but notable duet between Beyonce` and British singer James Blake, it is the turning point of the album. Moving “forward” from the infidelity and acting with courageous strength.

     “Freedom”: Featuring Kendrick Lamar, it’s a song that takes you back through history and hints on racism and how it still very much exists. Along with issues affecting black women, social equality justice are major motifs of this song.

   “All Night”: A midtempo love ballad featuring Diplo, it’s the unofficial close to the emotional journey of the album. The song illustrates a wise love, one that has experienced deep pain and disappointment yet was able to come out the other side determined to keep going. The chorus samples the infectious brass line from Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.”

    “Formation”: The lead single off the album, this track hits on many hints to the Black Lives Matter movement. Musically, Beyonce incorporates Bounce style of hip-hop which originates from New Orleans. It closes out the album with trademark Beyonce` strength with the line: "I dream it, I work hard, I grind til I own it."

Whether you are just crawling out from under a pop culture oblivious rock or you are a super fan, there is something totally addicting in Beyonce’s lemonade and I’m going to keep on sipping on it to quench my musical thirst.

#BookReview: Joyride @byannabanks

The first time I ever saw Anna Banks, I thought she was the coolest person in the room. I admired her personality and how she could command the authority of every eye in the room not with just her good looks but also because she had a brain and clever one-liners. There, in a lecture hall, at Saint Leo University, I vowed that one day when I was a best-selling author, I would be as cool and confident as Anna was that day.


Just as the author herself made me want to be her when I grew up, her writing does the same thing to anyone who dares to not get hooked by the authenticity of her characters and the social issues her books discuss. Being that I knew she was a best-selling author of the Syrena Legacy, I knew her writer was going to be far from mediocre. Yet, one thing I wasn’t aware of is how quickly her writing took me out of this world and into the world of Carly Vega.

Carly Vega is just like any other teenager except that her home life is anything but pristine. She studies hard, and works every available shift at the Breeze Mart just to take care of her and her brother who live together in a trailer park. And before you go and judge her, you should watch what you say around Carly because she’ll put you in your place if she thinks you’ve stepped over the line. And she is cool with going unnoticed and not being an unruly teenager.

That is until she meets Arden Moss, former star quarterback and the town sheriff’s daughter.

Not only did I find myself relating to Carly on a personal level but this story will take you on the ride of your life from page one. I’m not even kidding.

Banks grips you with romantic plotlines and witty remarks said by characters that go from being ethnically defined on page one to being a human you both admire and want to be friends with someday. and a hero you root for. Banks’ Joyride mentions current social issues like illegal immigration and racism but she uses clever plotlines to make you fall in love with the character as a human and start to see that maybe people shouldn’t be defined by ethnic heritage but as who they are as humans, as people.

I’m pleased to announce that in order to get the whole world in on the Joyride bandwagon, I am hosting a new giveaway. 10 winners will win either a Joyride bookmark or a Joyride sticker signed by NYT best-selling author and Florida native, Anna Banks.

Just enter this Rafflecopter giveaway and you’re all set. Winners will be announced 1 month from today!

Joyride Giveaway

To get to know more about the extremely cool Anna Banks, follow her On Twitter and check her website for more information about her other books and upcoming releases.





#BookReview: The Cilantro in Apple Pie by @knightsley

I love YA  novels but one thing I love is when I am automatically gripped by a character in a YA novel. Something about them resonates with you because as you keep reading, you find that they are a mirror of you, in some way.

I was surprised that I found myself mirrored in the character Rubie Keane, a sixteen year old from Trinidad and Tobago, who speaks the dialect and really seems like a fish out of water in her new school, Lumiere Prep. She really starts getting attention when the school’s most popular A-lister, Gil Stromeyer. He is drawn to Rubie and foils her plans to be overlooked in her new life in Boston.

What I love most about Knights’s writing is that it speaks loud and proud to both her own culture (the author was born and raised there just like Rubie) and how she takes the reader to school not only about Trini culture but hits on common social issues of today such as racism and mental illness. Yet, she weaves a gripping story from start to finish that ties all these ingredients together like one delicious and flavorful recipe. For a debut novel from an indie author, this looks to be a rare but meant-to be destiny for Knights much like watching a shooting star glitter a foggy night. Looking forward to more from this author.


The author is holding a giveaway via her facebook page  where you can enter to win a Cilantro in Apple Pie tote bag and a $25 Amazon gift card.

You can find her also on Twitter here. View the book trailer for The Cilantro in Apple Pie below.