Reach Records (May 10, 2012)
Review by LaRosa
If you haven’t heard the name Lecrae in the last year, you have probably been sleeping under a rock. In 2010 he released his fourth studio album Rehab. Not long after in January of the following year he released a follow-up titled Rehab: The Overdose. Then, in September he re-released both albums as a joint album (Rehab Deluxe). Oh, did I mention that he was a part of one of the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher? So, yeah, if you haven’t heard the name of this Reach Records artist, you should probably wake up & take notice.
After holding his own in the BET cypher, Lecrae essentially became a household name overnight, both in the Christian & secular markets. Using his new-found celebrity status in the mainstream hip-hop market to his favor, Lecrae has teamed up with DJ Don Cannon to release a free mixtape titled Church Clothes. With this mixtape, Lecrae has joined forces with many notable producers and a couple of notable artists in an effort to take the message of Jesus Christ to the masses. With plenty of hype surrounding this album, the question is: will it live up to the hype? It’s not a simple yes or no answer; instead, the answer is both yes and no.
With DJ Don Cannon’s certifiable stamp of approval, there’s a lot to like about Church Clothes. First and foremost, there’s the historical factor, which cannot be overlooked. There has never been an album by a Christian hip-hop artist that has received this much promotion in both the Christian & mainstream markets. That being said, let’s talk about the music. For what it is, this album is like nothing that we’ve heard from Lecrae before. In times past, what we typically heard from Lecrae was either hearty southern sounds or music that was borderline hip-pop (or pop-rap or whatever you want to call it). This time, you’re getting grimy & authentic east coast type hip-hop beats from producers like Wit, ThaInnaCircle, 9th Wonder, S-1, and Boi-1da to name a few. Over those beats you’re getting the Lecrae that many have been longing for: a rapper with steez and just rapping hard. Instead of trying to make music that sounds like what’s popular on the radio, Church Clothes offers you some authentic street hip-hop that is worthy of radio & the underground. For all that this album has going for it, it is still only an average album at best. While both the production and lyrics were solid all around, there isn’t anything about Church Clothes that makes it stand out from the music that’s currently out on the market or being circulated in the mixtape circuit. If there’s one standout on this album it would have to be “Misconception” featuring the Humble Beast crew. This song is stellar and alone makes this mixtape worth downloading. The only thing that could have made that song better is if Odd Thomas’ verse had been last.
All in all, you can’t help but say that this album achieved its goal. Lecrae took a huge risk in marketing himself to the mainstream media, and he did so without compromising his message. If this were an album that you had to pay for, it probably would be a bit disappointing; but, for it to be free, it’s a very quality release, especially given the notable names that lent a hand in making this happen. If this is the Lecrae that we can expect on future releases, then I would say the future is very bright for him. Either way, he has made a lot of new fans who will likely go back & check out his prior albums as well as his future ones.
Purchase: Shop for Lecrae CDs