Verdict: 4 / 5
Kirk Franklin once blurted out in Stomp, “For those of you that think gospel music has gone to far.
You think we got too radical with our message. Well I got news for you , you ain’t heard nothin yet”. And we certainly hadn’t. Not until Lecrae, a Christian Gospel rapper who is breaking down big doors in the industry, changed our perception on rappers and gospel music. His latest album couldn’t have a more fitting name. Anomaly – Something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.
There is no denying that there is a sharp contrast between Lecrae and nearly every other well-known rapper out there. Gone are the cuss words, the boasting, the name calling, the rivalry, the degrading, the lies and most of all, the faking. Here stands an artist as real as real can be, someone willing to admit their failures, their shortcomings and their lack of bling. This is truly a rarity in an age where music has become more about stylings than message. Often labeled “too holy” and “too preachy” in his previous works, the post-Grammy winning artist stepped back and re-examined his game plan. More aware than ever before, Lecrae steps back behind the Mic to prove a point; nothing can hold him back. Not even the “Gospel box”. Mapping out to uncharted territory, Lecrae’s Anomaly has broken down the walls between hip hop and Christian hip hop, or rather what’s considered good music and gospel music. Breaking records along the way, his recent album has become the first Christian hip hop album to ever hold the number one billboard chart. Hence the title Anomoly.
‘Crae’s seventh album kicks off with an ode to misfits, “Outsiders”, a fitting intro for what to expect from the sound of the album. But it’s not until we reach the second track, “Welcome to America” that we realize that Lecrae is heading in a different direction with the album. Stretched out over three verses and tribal chanting beats, here he deals with difficult issues like US troops going off to war, the state of America currently (politically, spiritually, racially, financially, etc) and those looking to America to fulfill their dreams. It could be argued that his flow here is equal to that of more seasoned rappers like Jay-Z or Nas.
“Say I won’t”, “Nuthin” and “Fear” continue the style that has brought the Lecrae fame. Here he proves that he is unashamed of his faith and calls out other rappers for their lack of originality and moral. But if these three songs feel like Christian anthems, they remain completely relatable. Who can’t find a connection with his struggles with fear?
But there are also lighter topics up for discussion here. “All I Need Is You” is a love song dedicated to his wife and his respect for her – not something very common to hip hop either. In fact, “Runners” deals with the way men treat woman like objects in today’s society and how men shouldn’t cheat. Not a bad lesson for the youth to learn.
As a whole, Lecrae finds enough subject matter (sex, abuse, love, hate, relationships, war, politics and religion) and themes to jam-pack the album. His delivery never falters once and there is literally something for everyone. This is a must-have rap album.