Street Gospel Defined| Posted March 21, 2023 What You Need To Know Famous Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae was born in Houston and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, near the home of Reach Records studios, a record label he helped co-found in 2004 with businessman Ben Washer. The brand has an active roster of nine artists, including Lecrae.
Lecrae, a philanthropist and community activist, founded the nonprofit organization ReachLife Ministries to inspire young people to reach their full potential through faith-based programs and activities. He has also been actively involved in social justice movements, speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality.
Since 2003, Lecrae has released ten studio albums and four mixtapes, the Church Clothes series, and participated in six Reach collaboration projects. Also, he’s contributed to six summer playlist compilations. We can add a Christmas album to the impressive resume, too. He’s been a tad busy over the past two decades. That’s not including the countless feature verses he’s been a part of.
During the last 11-year period, Lecrae released a collection of four mixtapes in the Church Clothes series dating back to 2012. He closed the series with the final mixtape, Church Clothes 4, on November 4, 2022. However, recently he’s released a deluxe version titled Church Clothes 4: Dry Clean Only, presenting six new tracks for fans to consume.
What it Sounds Like Lecrae’s focus for any of the four mixtapes was always to bring the Church to the streets. The four releases had a specific focus on reaching out to the unchurched. They aimed to offer hope and build relationships by conveying that Christians and unbelievers are not vastly different. Also, they sought to bring hope and love to the places where they were most needed.
The six new tracks Lecrae presents in this deluxe edition are the perfect continuance of both the message and the hype. Like the tracks included with the deluxe version of 2019’s Restoration, they represent the best version of Lecrae’s skillset. These new songs feature fellow artists URSTRULYXYZ, D. Smoke, Torey D’Shaun, JP the Carpenter, and Rotimi.
“They Ain’t Know” represents the latest summer anthem of 2023 with its battling piano keys and 808s. Lecrae explains personal struggles throughout. “Double R Dreamin’” featuring URSTRULYXYZ details life before Reach for Lecrae. The soundscape goes crazy behind the drums. “Can You Hear Me Now,” featuring D. Smoke, contains rapid-fire lyrical delivery questioning if God hears us beyond the static. “Price Up,” featuring Torey D’Shaun, is another certified heater. The track discusses the worth of God’s people at the cost of the blood of Christ.
“Legacy,” featuring J. Paul, speaks to the foundation ‘Crae has established in CHH over the past two decades. Finally, “Best Thing,” featuring Rotimi, closes the project. The song has island vibes mixed with some dope R&B vocals. Lecrae talks about the most important person in his life, his wife.
Collectively, the six tracks fit perfectly into the original project like LEGO blocks. It transitions into the additional tracks smoothly, like an after-party. This speaks to the quality expected from the G.O.A.T. of CHH.
Spiritual Highlights If you’re looking for an increase in JPMs (Jesus’ per minute) with the mention of God or His Son throughout, the Church Clothes mixtape series is not for your ears. Lecrae doesn’t smother the intended listener with “churchy” themes and overuses the multiple names God possesses. Instead, he “preaches to the streets” around interjecting hope into communities. Lecrae’s content with this mixtape focuses on real-life situations and his story. A story of trials, tribulations, and mistakes molded into love, hope, and the changes God has made in his life.
Best Song I find value in each of the six included tracks. Then again, Lecrae stands as one of my top artists overall. I’m going with “They Ain’t Know” for multiple reasons. It’s the only track without a featured artist. It has radio playability. It represents the formula of a summer anthem. I loved using piano keys as they somewhat battle the chasing drums. The content feels like something on Real Talk but with a renewed treatment similar to something from Anomaly.
My favorite lines from the song are, “How you mad, but you still want a feature?/Kill me, I’m comin’ back like it’s Easter/By His stripes, I been healed like Adidas/Serpent under his heel, kill a demon/I got God on my side like a heater/If you mad at me, run it by Jesus.”
Final Word Church Clothes 4: Dry Clean Only represents a direct extension of its counterpart. All six tracks fit like glue in comparison to the original 11. The included message resounds throughout both installments; hope can be found in Christ Jesus regardless of your current situation. The message of hope has always been the key ingredient when comparing mainstream hip-hop to its Christian alternative. As Christians, we're responsible for speaking life, hope, love, and the name of Christ to all who are willing to hear with open hearts. Besides the original 2012 mixtape, CC4 is my favorite out of the four in total. The production and content are top-notch and stand above most of the industry's offers. Lecrae is and always will be at the forefront of the CHH space and has a seat in the hip-hop industry overall.
Stream Church Clothes 4: Dry Clean Only on Spotify or purchase the album on iTunes.