Review

LABEL: REACH RECORDS 
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 4, 2012

Only earlier this year, Christian Hip-Hop’s front-man, and dare I say break-out mainstream artist, Lecrae, lavished on the public his impressive Church Clothes mixtape which was readily gobbled up by hungry fans and curious on-lookers alike. The stand- alone rapper is a man who needs no introduction, so, I honestly won’t attempt to recount tales of his pied career run so far. Even if you’re just catching on now, there’s a place, in light of the latest announcement of his 7th studio work, Gravity. You’d think that he’d be tired by now, but the man has shown no signs of slowing down.

As far as his new work Gravity goes, he has been heard to describe it as a follow up to the mixtape. While the album can stand on its own, its themes and approach can be traced back to the outstanding mixtape. Having listened to both, I think they boast many similarities. For instances, many of the features, producers included, are invited back for the show. The structuring of the album is almost the same also. As far as Gravity goes, Lecrae describes it as an album ‘loosely based on Ecclesiastes’. He goes on to point out how the writer of that book was trying to bring some weight to life and therefore, in the same vein he would want to accomplish the same feat in this day and age with the somber, yet hopeful album. Sonically, its pride and joy is a more mainstream sound with the rich instrumentation that can be heard throughout the album; so much that I imagine the charts will topple on its release date, September 4th.

In reviewing it, I chose five songs from the cadre of tracks which I believe embodied the theme of the album best. I also thought they had the best sounds and premium production value, though I don’t mind you thinking otherwise. Don’t worry; it’s okay if you’re wrong.

Anyway, here’s my list, and a few favorites otherwise;

‘Free from it All’ is easily one of the biggest songs on the album, and dare I say, of lecrae’s career so far.  Our main man here gets together with the talented Mathai (Remember her from NBC’s The Voice?) to produce the hit song.  It’s a track that fits the album best because in it Lecrae ably spells out the how vain (and even cumbersome) life’s pursuits can be at time; especially with an unhealthy dose of fame & fortune and, self-indulgence.  His guest then steps in with her uniquely powerful voice and, really brings the track home with a resonating message of hope on the spellbinding hook. Of course, I expect that this will all verbiage to you until you actually listen to is yourself and it knocks your socks off!

Another song which has resonated with me from start to finish is the reggae-infused, base-heavy and rowdy dance track ‘Violence’, produced by prodigious producer Tyshane who teams up with ThaInnaCircle. Oooh Boy, this kid has talent! But can I dare or even attempt to render the proper description that this sure to be crowd favorite deserves? I doubt it but, let me try! First of all, following up their earlier ‘Black Rose’ hit on Church Clothes, they team up again to offer an even more impressive track which boasts a Lecrae who is so comfortable handling the patios dialect so much that I think he could do a cross-over reggae album next. Am I lying? His flow is crisp and, while I find it to be the most entertaining song, it is still very somber to hear him rattle off tales of how violence can and, has made life a difficult reality for people everywhere.  Need I relate any stories? I didn’t think so either. “Violence fi Stop!”

Anyway, the track which has probably caused the biggest stir on blogs far and wide is, without a doubt, Mayday which features mainstream artists, Big K.R.I.T. and former American Idol contestant, Ashton Jones. People have questioned the decision to collaborate with a secular artist but a keen listen to the song immediately shows how it enriches the quality and integrity of the album, given the nature of it. Lecrae, in an interview with Billboard.com explains that the essence of the song isn’t one where he give Big K.R.I.T. a ‘pulpit but a platform’, just to share his heart, and believably, it sets the stage for a beautiful conversation to which all three artists contribute greatly- especially Ashton Jones who sings a convincing hook.

‘Power Trip’ is easily also one of the most outstanding tracks on the album and, it boasts a shattering opening verse by Lecrae’s label mate Derek Minor (formerly Pro) who unreservedly cut away at the false dispositions about power that many people have. He raps “The lustful power go to your brain if you let it/ you say, ‘What’s up dog’/ I hear ‘god’/I’m so dyslexic”.  He sets the bar high for the other gentlemen on the track, Sho Baraka and Andy Mineo, along with Lecrae who has to come strong to keep up with such a stellar verse.

Finally, I’d like to also set the title track ‘Gravity’ which, features world-class crooner J.R., before your eyes for some reckoning. Bolstered by an extraordinary piece of production, they team up to set the tone for the album as Lecrae leaves it bare in his bars.  There is no putting on of airs here and, while he reminds us of the ugly realities that exist in life, J.R. steps up in superb fashion to remind of the hope that exists. As far as title tracks go for Lecrae, he has always delivered a powerful message and this one is by no means the least of any of them.

These five songs, I believe best represent the theme of the album and which makes it one of Lecrae’s finest work ever. Though, honorable mention must be given to the other bangers such as ‘Fakin’ which features This’l, ‘I know’, and the face-melting sound of ‘Falling Down’ featuring Trip Lee and Swoope. Any of these could easily be substituted in the aforementioned list as none of them are anything short of spectacular. I also loved ‘The Drop (intro)’. Does he ever come up short on an intro?

Gravity is in many ways Lecrae’s most superior offering as the superb production on each and every song has given Lecrae’s talent the boost that kept him out of the mainstream market for long. Also, his writing and delivery has obviously continued to improve exponentially. Though, often times than not, if you’ve heard Church Clothes, or any of Lecrae’s other material for that matter, you’ve heard parts of this album. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s why I like his music so much!

Favorite Lecrae album?