Lecrae :: Gravity
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
The name of Lecrae's sixth commercial album implies right from
the start that it will be heavy. If you had said the same thing about any
of his prior albums it would certainly be true. Lecrae has at
times taken his Christian message beyond "preachy" and straight into
"proselytizing." One verse from his album "After the Music Stops"
took it into downright dangerous territory, as the faith-minded rapper
vowed he'd walk through the heart of the Middle East to convert
non-believers: "If the violence doesn't cease then at least the
deceased/might know Jesus as their savior as their body hit the streets."
Even if you don't pray to Allah, that's borderline offensive, and in
many Islamic countries would get you jailed (or worse) for crimes against
the state. I'll take your belief seriously, whatever it might be, if you
aren't (1.) forcing it on me or anyone else and (2.) not proclaiming
all other beliefs are inferior. In one fell swoop he seemed to do both.
I had largely been ignoring Lecrae in the interim between then and
now - aware of his existance but not really interested in his seeming
intolerance toward other faiths. Over the last month though the good
word spread about "Gravity," and many who thought Lecrae was
narrowcasting to the Bible Belt were surprised to see his album on
the top of secular Billboard charts. To be truly fair and
open-minded, I had to give Lecrae a second chance and find out
if he had earned this newfound fame. A little background research
revealed he had done a free album called "Church Clothes" with
popular mixtape king Don Cannon, and that lead me to believe that
Lecrae was really trying to revamp his image. The thing that haunts
most Christian rappers isn't the Holy Ghost - it's the idea that all
they do is spit chapter and verse like a pastor on Sunday except in
rhyme form. To go mainstream Lecrae would have to go hard on the
beats and the bars and show the world he can hang with any emcee.
"I'm riding round and I'm gettin it; they ridin around pretendin
I been had it, I been done it, I promise that it's all empty
They say they ridin Bugattis, man put some babies through college
Quit tryin to act like the trap is cool, cause we tired of hearin that garbage
Hey bags of white, pints of lean, I been knowin dope boys since a teen
But this ain't what we meant to be, and y'all don't make no sense to me
You pump fakin, ain't shootin; ain't killin, ain't doin
Half them thangs you say you doin, but 116 we stay true and
ain't dope dealin, ain't po' pimpin
Talkin 'bout my own folk killin"
The Heat Academy production of "Fakin'" is impressive, sounding like
any cranked up down South song you'd hear from Bun B or Juicy J, but
Lecrae's verbiage impresses the most. "Quit tryin to act like the trap is
cool" is not only the kind of sentiment I can get behind, it's delivered with
an authority and conviction that has nothing to do with religion. That's
not to say Jesus doesn't get dropped in these bars, but it is to say you
could listen to the whole song and not notice, because it's not the topic.
You can be any religion or NO religion and address people
being fake, because like any other genre of music or entertainment, a lot
of artists will sell you an image that has nothing to do with the truth.
That's not necessarily insulting though until they try to pretend they're
living how they're acting instead of acting for a living, and Lecrae
calling them out for "Fakin'" is no different than Guru calling for hip-hop
to have a "Moment of Truth" (may he rest in peace).
"Gravity" was full of surprises for me, not the least of which was
seeing Big K.R.I.T.
cameo on the song "Mayday," which also features some super clean
production from DJ Khalil. "Don't get it twisted, I ain't no saint, I ain't
no pastor/but prayin ain't just for cloudy days and natural disasters."
It's not really about the cameos on this one though, and with no diss
meant, to some degree it's not even about 'Crae. If you're the kind of
hip-hop listener who won't listen to Christian rap on principle because
the production is cheesy (and let's all be honest, a lot of it is) then
"Gravity" will hit you like a ton of bricks. Who watches The Watchmen?
I do after hearing the soulful Kanye-style sound of "Walk With Me."
They reoccur throughout the album, from the electronic and synth
heavy "I Know" to the hard marching posse song "Falling Down"
featuring Swoope and Trip Lee. The aforementioned Heat Academy
also have multiple hits: "Tell the World," "Buttons" and the the
single "Lord Have Mercy" featuring Tedashii:
"Dark past, full of evil endeavors (ungh)
Heart clean never black and ugly as ever
However - I seen my family die from them rocks
Them beams on blocks, includin my own pops
Homey I seen too much, to drink them two cups
Can't lean on the lean already way too screwed up
Was way too gone, I was way too cold
Fifty yard Hail Mary I was way too throwed
I was Tarzan raised by gorillas and the beasts
High on them trees when I gorilla'd the beast
Then that truth came hit me, got me outta my grave
All my partners say I'm changed - how am I gon' stay the same?
It's fair to say after listening to "Gravity" I've done a 180 on Lecrae.
In the past I thought he was too stuck in his own ways and too
concerned with converting heathens to ever have a broad appeal.
Perhaps over time he's realized you catch more flies with honey,
or whatever other cliche you'd like, is a more effective approach.
God is still a part of his rap, and there's still a message, but it's
a much more subtle and nuanced approach which is backed up by
rhyming that's more than just effective - it's pretty damn good.
Giving him a second chance and the benefit of the doubt proved
to me he deserves the accolades he's currently receiving, and I'm
going to give him one more - if you've never heard a Christian
rapper you could get down with before, Lecrae will
change you. I'm not saying he'll change a heathen to a God-fearing
man too, but then again, with this approach he'll definitely win
more converts than walking down the streets of Tehran with
a Bible in one hand and a cross in the other. I applaud his new
approach and pray for religious tolerance from ALL faiths.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: October 2nd, 2012