Lecrae: Church Clothes
Posted July 19, 2012
Lecrae is no stranger to the Christian hip hop scene, but mainstream hip hop never really paid attention to him. All that has now changed with Church Clothes. Lecrae worked with Don Cannon, the most famous co-signer, to to host the mixtape and then put it up on DatPiff for free download, which is where all the mainstream rap mixtapes are put up. He worked with producers such as Boi-1da, Street Symphony, and 9th Wonder - all well known in the secular hip hop world. Church Clothes is a project made to get nonchristians interested in his music and at the same time get some gospel rap on their iPods.
"Co-Sign" opens up the mixtape with a bang, that I believe automatically silenced critics who thought Lecrae would go soft as far as lyrics go on this mixtape. Lecrae showed right off the bat that he can make music designed for nonchristians and still write Gospel centered lyrics. "APB" follows that up with probably my favorite song on the mixtape. The song has one of the best beats on the album, has some of the best rapping from Lecrae and Thi'sl, and has easily my favorite lyrics. The song is about how in Christ we are so different that there is no way anyone should be able to find the old us.
The title track continues in the line of awesome songs with a completely different type of beat that almost seems like it is going to slow down the album a little bit. But after the thirty second intro Crae just goes in on the song with lyrics that just about any nonchristian and most Christians can probably relate to. The song talks about the hypocrisy in the church, but brings it back to the fact that if we are in Christ then all these little things that Christians and nonchristians quarrel about do not really matter. I love the last line of the song where he says, "If God gon take me as I am then I already got on my church clothes."
My one and only complaint with the mixtape is the constant interruptions at the beginning and ending of songs by Don Cannon. During the first two songs I was okay with it, but after the title track it really started to get on my nerves. We get it, you are the number one cosigner, but you do not have to keep reminding us every song that you are there and that you are the number one cosigner. It gets annoying listening to his little interjections all the time, but really that is my only complaint with the record.
"Cold World" definitely slows down the mixtape with a song talking about all the social problems in the world, but he says that Christ is there to bring hope to those in need of it. One of the biggest problems people have with Christianity is they believe that a loving God could not allow all this evil to occur in the world, but Lecrae demolished that argument. I love the line where he says, "I know someone who can change the weather forever," because it sums up the song so well. "Welcome to H-Town" follows that up with another one of my favorites. Tedashii killed his verse on the song, and so did Lecrae and Dre Murray, but T-Dot's verse was easily my favorite on the song.
"Welcome to H-Town" was sandwiched inbetween two of the slowest songs on the album, because after it comes "Inspiration," which is a very emotional song from Lecrae. The song talks about Christ being his inspiration and it basically just lays out the Gospel in two and a half minutes. "Rise" picks the pace back up with another one of my favorites, that definitely gives me inspiration. "Rise" talks all about rising above all the low expectations and issues in society by finding God's love and being a Christian. The lyrical content on this song is fantastic, and easily some of my favorites on the whole record.
"Darkest Hour" feels a little more old school than the rest of the songs on the mixtape, and with this being my first time listening to No Malice, he very much impressed me with his verse. The lyrics to the song talk about how in Christ we have hope and no matter what happens, we will be in Heaven with Him one day. "Black Rose" never ceases to amaze me; everything about it impresses me. The producer of the song, Tyshane, is only 16, which absolutely amazed me. The beat is killer, and the Lecrae's flow is better than any other song I have ever heard. I like the small Jamaican influences on the song as well, it just adds to how great the song is.
Halfway through this free mixtape it is cool to look back and see how many great songs there are at just this point, because there are so many rappers who struggle to get just one great song. Plus those dudes are selling their albums, Crae is just giving this away for free. So, after the halfway point Lecrae comes back with "The Price of Life" which has one of my favorite upcoming artists on it: Andy Mineo. Mineo seems to be able to do just about anything, and his verse on this song is absolutely killer. Definitely be on the lookout for Mineo in the future.
"Special" is a pretty sweet love song that I believe is a perfect one for Christians and nonchristians alike, because we can both relate to the words in the song. In a culture where there are so many rappers rapping about all this fake love, it's cool to see Lecrae show the picture of true love in his relationship with his wife and at the same show Christ's awesome love. It is a huge contrast to what the world is telling us, and this has definitely been a song I have been listening to a lot lately. Suzy Rock is another artist I feel has a lot of potential, and I really like seeing Lecrae work with her on songs (lookup his track "Battle Song"). She has the potential to be the Christian Nicki Minaj, so I cannot wait to hear her upcoming project Vanity Suxx. I love "No Regrets," which she is on, mostly for Lecrae's rapping, but Rock's voice definitely adds another dimension to the emotions in the song.
"Gimme a Second" has Lecrae doing something I am not sure he has ever done: singing on a song. He sings the hook on the track, and it sounds pretty good, but I definitely prefer his rapping. It is cool to see him trying new things though, instead of just sticking to the same old same old. "Long Time Coming" follows that up with Lecrae doing a song with Swoope that talks about growing up in our Christian walk and seeing things through His eyes. Swoope's verse is killer; he is definitely someone I would suggest to anyone who likes secular rapper, Lupe Fiasco, because his lyricism and flow is so stellar. Lecrae and Swoope are definitely great rapping together.
A lot of people have been waiting for Reach Records and Humble Beast to do some songs together, and "Misconception" is exactly why they have wanted it for so long. The song has Propaganda, Braille, and Odd Thomas; together with Lecrae, they created a stellar song. It talks about all the misconceptions nonchristians have about Christianity and it really shows that those things are not what define the Gospel. It is definitely a highlight of the mixtape, and worth the five minutes it takes to download the album. "Spazz" was one of the songs that I was looking forward to hearing recorded the most, because a few weeks before the release I saw a video of him performing the song at a concert and absolutely fell in love with it. Recorded it is pretty good, but compared to the rest of the songs on the mixtape it is not quite as good as I thought it would be. I love that Lecrae used this song just like so many in the past to talk about being unashamed of Christ, but especially with this one he made it seem so cool and made a killer hook that will remind people to stay unashamed of Him every day.
The mixtape ends like it began, with some really great songs. "Sacrifice" has a really sweet chorus and an awesome beat (with a killer bass). The song talks about sacrificing our worldly wants for God's will and to show people His love; to me it's a newer version of "Go Hard" from his album Rebel. "Rejects" with Christon Gray feels like the perfect song to end the mixtape with, from the beat to the urgency of the rapping. I love the tone of his voice because it feels so serious and reminds me so much of why I fell in love with his music to begin with.
Lecrae set the bar for Christian rappers, and he set it pretty high. He always seems to set a new bar for holy rappers, but this one really paved the road for Christian rappers in the mainstream market. As of right now it has been downloaded over 270,000 times, which is crazy for a free mixtape from a Christian. Now he is definitely up on a huge pedestal, and people are going to be expecting stellar music from him from now on. Hopefully Gravity is as good as Church Clothes; if he can make it as good, if not better than, Church Clothes, then I believe he will have no problems selling albums to anyone - Christian or nonchristian. It is a great time for Christian rap, and I am definitely excited to see what doors Lecrae has opened with this mixtape.
Favorite Song: APB
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