Lecrae’s new album goes mainstream
Christian rap started in the 1980s with most mainstream hip-hop fans giving it little consideration. It wasn’t until groups like DC Talk started becoming mainstream that the world started to listen.
Still, an expectation for mediocre beats and rhyming skills left many to mock the genre and dismiss their convicting lyrics.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that rappers like BB Jay, GRITS, Trip Lee and Lecrae changed how Christian hip hop-music was perceived.
The envelope was pushed even more when Lecrae’s latest album Gravity dropped on Sept. 4. Many people expected big things from the 32-year-old Houstonian whose first mixtape Church Clothes was released for free on May 10.
Many considered this to be his jump into mainstream hip-hop music with producers like Don Cannon, Boi-1da and 9th Wonder behind him. Audiences loved it with 100,000 downloads in less than 48 hours, but the Christian media had a few concerns.
Several thought that Lecrae’s work with secular producers would mean him “selling out” to mainstream audiences and the loss of his Christian convictions in his songs. This could not be further from the truth, with most fans finding Church Clothes to be an amazing and real commentary on the church and non-believers.
In light of the controversy, Gravity emerged with critics waiting to see Lecrae’s next move. What they got was mainstream beats and sounds with all the poetic, Christ-filled lyrics that Lecrae fans expect to hear. The first single from the album, “I Know,” is one of his most upbeat songs to date. The production value is higher with multiple layers not heard in Rehab or Rebel.
Songs like “Lord Have Mercy” show how different this project really is for Lecrae with tough lyrics and a haunting chorus. The second single, “Tell the World,” has a catchy hook and gospel-focused message that make this song an automatic hit with Christians and non-Christians alike.
Any fan of Lecrae will love Gravity from beginning to end and will find the lines between Christian and mainstream hip-hop music blurred. This is a very good thing. Getting the message of Christ to people through the medium of hip-hop is a great opportunity. AllHipHop said that Church Clothes had the “ability to focus on the Christian values without coming off as preachy, or even Bible-thumping.”
Mainstream hip-hop audiences are listening, and rappers like Lecrae are presenting the gospel through secular sounds and modern beats. Gravity is going to be Lecrae’s latest push into the headphones of non-Christians.