2014 was the year of Lecrae. The rapper, and unashamed Christian, was everywhere in the hip-hop world this year, even being nominated for “Best Rap Performance” Grammy for his song “All I Need is You”.
The release of his seventh album is in some ways a culmination of all that he has worked towards, not just for himself but for Christian rappers as a whole. He always insists that he is a rapper who is a Christian, in the same way that the Wu-Tang Clan are rappers who are Five Percenters. Lecrae is right, of course. Christianity is a faith, not a genre. Rap is a genre of music and it’s the type of music Lecrae makes, and he makes it well. Not well “for a Christian”, well for anyone who calls themselves a rapper. He didn’t gain the respect of the hip-hop mainstream because they were looking to patronize a Christian rapper, he gained their respect because he’s freaking good.
Anomaly reached the top spot on the Billboard chart when it was released, the first time an album was simultaneously topping the Billboard main chart and the Gospel chart at the same time. It’s an amazing accomplishment that he achieved because of great songs like “Nuthin”, “Fear”, and “Dirty Water”. Lecrae is fearless, calling out the rap establishment sometimes, calling out Christians at other times. His triumph is “Welcome to America”, a song in which he assumes different characters on each verse and discusses how they experience America. It’s powerful and thought-provoking and mindbogglingly skillful.
The only reason this album isn’t higher is because of missteps like “Give In”, “Broken”, and “Messengers”. Someone needs to get Lecrae to stop collaborating with Christian worship leaders. Let them do their own thing, and you do yours Lecrae!
“All I Need Is You” got the Grammy love because it’s his most accessible song, but “Welcome to America” is just an amazing and powerful piece of art.