Tag: Christian hip-hop
#MusicalNotes: KB’s Today We Rebel is a strong political statement that points to Christ
#MusicLove: Tampa Local KB uses second album to preach life
Not a stranger to the 116 clique and a huge supporter of Lecrae since he was my introduction to Christian hip-hop ( you mean I can turn up for Jesus?!), KB’s album came on my radar after listening to Derek Minor and Lecrae stations on Pandora.
I prefer Christian hip-hop anyway because the content is stronger and less offensive as well as the beats are blessed by the Lord ( chances are your hips will catch the rhythm before you even realize what is happening).
KB is from Tampa, FL as I am and that only made me jump at the chance to review his second album even more.
Kevin Burgess, now better known by his stage name KB, is a hip-hop artist based in Tampa, FL heading up HGA. He’s found redemption in what was once the forbidden music of his youth.
His latest EP 100 debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Christian Album Chart. Tomorrow We Live has brought both critical acclaim and commercial success, debuting on the Billboard charts at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums, No. 4 on Top Rap Albums, and in the top 20 on the iconic Billboard 200. Tomorrow We Live was released on April 21, 2015.
Song by Song review:
Rich Forever: The album opens with a slow-tempo piano accompanied track based on Matthew 6:19-21 about treasure stored up in heaven once you become a believer of Christ.
Sideways: Featuring Lecrae, this is all about being persecuted because of your faith. A street phrase popular in all hip-hop music today is “sideways” meaning Someone coming at you in disrespect. This is my favorite track because it’s a banging track and Lecrae’s verse is fiyah:
ou ain’t never seen us cause you ain’t lookin’
And if I say Jesus everybody start bookin’
Get out the kitchen when I’m cookin’
I Believe: Featuring Mattie Montgomery, this is a fire up your faith, we are victorious in Christ type jam. Matter of fact, I used it to further my faith in the most recent election, I believed America would win! “I Believe” is an anthem of perseverance for those struggling in their faith with God. With this song, KB wants those people to know that they will win against every form of sin and the evil.
9 AM: An adlib track of KB’s daily morning as a husband and father.
Fall In Love With You: This is a lullaby KB is singing to his son. This song is set at 9:02 AM, continuing from the previous skit “9AM”. After he’s finished his morning workout and greeted his wife he comes into his son’s room to check on him and let him know how much he loves him. Although his son cannot yet understand what he’s saying, it’s a touching ballad for his baby boy that all fathers can relate to, and anyone who has someone that they love can relate to. Similar to Lecrae’s “All I ”Need Is You, this song can be dedicated to that “special someone” in your life. I like the breakdown part with the horns.
Always and Forever: KB wrote this song trying to encapsulate the feeling of the atmosphere at a wedding, and the love that the bride and groom have for each other. It has a disco vibe to it because that’s known as the greatest era for weddings still to this day.
I don’t know what holds tomorrow but I know who holds tomorrow
Matthew 6:34 (ESV) “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Ima Just Do It: This is for all those all-talk no action people. This is a song that instead of describes how things are done it’s about taking action in your faith. It’s said to be slightly inspired by Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It.” This is another favorite of mine because it’s another TURN-UP anthem.
Cruising: This song is the ride home after the wedding as KB’s about to sleep. On his way home KB is cruising through the city and is engaging in introspective throught.
Calling You: This song is a based on the true story of KB’s friend who came back from Iraq and killed himself. Suicide is something that occurs way too often as many people decide to kill themselves over major personal issues, and is considered a “permanent solution for a temporary problem”. The song goes through what KB would have said if he had been there to talk to his friend.
Save Me: The second interlude on the album that allows the listener to breathe and take in all the events of the previous track.
Drowning: KB finds himself in a place of helplessness that can only be solved by Jesus Christ or in other words, no matter the problem Jesus is the answer.
Lights Go Out: a song of hope that directs listeners to the love of Jesus Christ. Cece in this song is a metaphor for Christ’s Church (CC). Throughout the song he expresses his love for the church and the community around it and features Blanca and Justin Ebach.
Crowns & Thorns (Oceans): A rap over the famed Hillsong worship hit ” Oceans,” I actually prefer this track to the original because I love the “I am yours and your are mine” line that opens the rap.
Find Your Way: Prior to “Scars” by Alessia Cara, woman have little tracks that tell them they don’t have to be anything but what God made them to be and all that they are is enough. This track speaks to that and is another favorite of mine off the album despite it being a bonus track. This is KB’s advice to women to not worry about their bodies and how they look, and to instead see themselves as beautiful creatures created by God.
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.
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