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.
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:
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:
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.
“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