Here’s a first for this blog: an album review. This isn’t just any album, it’s one that has simply sent chills down my spine with its quality and truthfulness. I couldn’t resist letting you all know about Lacrae’s newest album, “Rehab,” that dropped late September (September 28, 2010). Sitting at #9 on the iTunes Top 10 Albums List, Lacrae has not only relaunched his popularity, he’s remade the entire Christian-rap genre in one album.
A quick blurb about who Lacrae is:
“For the typical music fan, Lecrae’s hard demeanor and crunk beats might belie what his lyrics are really about, his adoration of Jesus Christ. The main tenet influencing his mission and music is taken from Romans 1:16 of the Bible, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Although he was born on Houston’s south side, Lecrae grew up in Denver, CO, and San Diego, CA. It was at the age of 19 that he decided to give his life to Christ. Using conventional methods to spread the Gospel, he has worked for ministerial services, including his presidency of ReachLife Ministries, conducting Bible studies and many other projects. However, Lecrae’s success has come from his up-and-coming Christian rap career. In 2005, on Reach Records, he released his debut album, Real Talk, and as a part of the 116 Clique, he put out 116 Clique: The Compilation Album. The following year, Lecrae dropped the acclaimed After the Music Stops in July. It debuted at number one on the Christian Music Trade Association’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart and peaked at number five on Billboard’s Gospel Albums chart.” (iTunes Preview)
As a former hip-hop/rap junkie, I’ve always had a quiet grievance against Christian rap artists: their music never compared to what the world seemingly churned out on a regular basis. I’ve been, simply put, disappointed with the lack of accomplishment and creativity in the Christian rap world for quite some time. From the instrumental tracks down to the lyrics, everything fell short; so I’ve been forced to listen to my old school rap by myself on occasion, hoping that no brothers or sisters in Christ would catch me and rebuke me for my worldliness. Though I admired the efforts efforts of Christian artists and their underlying purposes, the loops and hooks of secular hip hop music has been too advanced for them to make any meaningful impact in the genre.
Along comes Lacrae and his new album “Rehab,” which I purchased more or less on a whim. I had heard that it was a quality album, but my recommenders were less than knowledgeable about rap music, so their words were less trustworthy. But to my surprise, this album is everything that the Christian rap world has been looking—no, yearning for. The beats are original and up to date enough to compete with mainstream hip hop; the technical aspects and track compilation is seamless with no wasted space; and the variety of styles and subjects are sure to keep your attention.
The most encouraging part of this album from a believer’s perspective is the theological soundness of the lyrics. Any scan through the track lyrics will reveal careful and intentional lyrics that speak truth into the lives of the listeners. Listening to the lyrics is the most enjoyable part of this album, to hear how one man can articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a creative way is inspiring. In his song, “Just Like You” he raps:
I remember the first created being
And how he shifted the blame on his dame
On fruit he should’t have eaten
And now look at us all out of Eden
And now look at us all that are eating
Wearing designer fig leaves by Louis Vuitton.
But then in steps Jesus,
All men were created to lead but we need somebody to lead us
More than a teacher,
But somebody who buy us back from the darkness,
Say He redeemed us,
Taught us that real leaders follow God.
That’s gospel-centered lyrics in one song (and that’s without hearing the catchy beats that go with it). Lacrae goes on to cover a plethora of topics, one of which is in reference to Paul’s consideration in Philippians 3:7. In his song “Boasting,” Lacrae raps:
If this Life has anything to gain at all
I count it lost if I can’t hear you, feel you, ’cause I need you.
Can’t Walk this Earth Alone.
I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boasting you alone.
I, without the cross there’s only condemnation.
If Jesus wasn’t executed there’s no celebration.
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any times that I’ve had it all I will be glad.
and I will boast in the cross. I boast in my pains.
I will boast in the sonshine, boast in his reign.
What’s my life if it’s not praising you.
I wish I could continue to share the intricacies of this album but it’s something you have to hear for yourself. Overall, I’m thoroughly encouraged by this album and I praise God for how he’s using a genre of music that has been so detrimental to the Church for the good of believers. Not only is this album safe for believers, but it’s one that will challenge believers to consider Christ more often and reveals truths that are undoubtedly contained in Scripture.
If you’re interested in checking out Lacrae’s new album, “Rehab,” you can check out his site here. His album is also for sale in stores, on Amazon, and also on iTunes. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the album and how it’s encouraged you! And if anyone has any new music to pass along, please feel free to let me know!