Anomaly is the 7th offering from Christian Hip Hop’s “God MC,” Lecrae. The Grammy Award winning artist continues to spread the good word in a genre where everything else teaches everything but. Sinning is almost second nature in rap music so naturally Christian Hip Hop is going to be an afterthought, but Lecrae has been able to make it work for him as Anomaly debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts earlier this year.
Being that I had never listened to the subgenre before, I was prepared for fifteen preachy tracks asking me to accept God into my heart so I was surprised when I got a different flavor from this album. “Welcome To America” shattered my expectations of what this album would sound like. The concept record features Lecrae speaking from the perspectives of an oppressed American, a war veteran, and a foreigner all detailing their struggles in the land of the free. Lecrae’s ability to write about such a frequented topic with a fresh twist makes “Welcome To America” a fan-making record. The applause isn’t limited to the artist’s skill, but also his decision making in choosing this specific J Rhodes and S1 production which features tribal chants that furthers it’s purpose.
I hear you selling education and got clothes that you throw away
Got plenty food in your nation
I can tell cause a lot of y’all are over weight
I already work for y’all
I’m at a sweatshops making these shirts for y’all
Naw I ain’t gettin money
Go to bed hungry but I make some exports for y’all
– Lecrae, “Welcome To America”
Lecrae got most of his hand-wagging done on “Nuthin,” a track where he goes in on hip hop’s neglect of social responsibility. Lecrae sounds his most energetic, and almost angry on this one. He’s dead set on getting his message across and he breaks it down from a logical perspective. Most rapper romanticize lifestyles that listeners emulate, but these songs may need to come tagged with a “Do Not Try This At Home” label. Lecrae’s upset with the content of most artists’ music glamorizing everything unholy, but never speaking on the extremely dangerous side of things. The song even sounds radio ready in its format making it the perfect song for a new listener.
They don’t talk about the pain, they don’t talk about the struggle
How they turn to the Lord when they ran into trouble
Imma talk about it
I don’t care if the world try to swallow me
I turn my back to ’em, tell ’em all follow me
I know you gon’ label me a hater
But inside you are greater than the songs you creating man
– Lecrae, “Nuthin’”
Now while there were some highlights, there were some extremely low points that throw the album off from a musical perspective and some that can even be called the dreaded word that is “corny.” The Crystal Nicole featured “Give In” didn’t sit right with any of our panel. The Skylar Grey-style hooks have always been a big draw when it comes to crafting big radio ready records, but this one here falls short as the hook overshadows anything that Lecrae says on the record, but doesn’t stand out enough to make this one memorable. Upon hearing the record you can just visualize them trying to craft something that they’ve already heard before and to be blunt it comes off as corny and contrived.
We can’t knock the reach for radio play as Lecrae has to be the spearhead for his lane. He lends himself to a mainstream listeners ear, which was a surprise to me. I expected a Christian Hip Hop album to be solely about worship and in the church, but this was just a really positive experience rather than a sermon and that’s why it shines. There were songs on this album that could be on any artists’ album and still make sense. “Runners” has a Timbaland meets Little Brother feel to it. “Welcome To America” was simply a well executed concept record. “All I Need Is You” was a genuine love song. The songs don’t force religion on you, but it still tells the story of a man that holds the Lord very close.
For this to be my first time hearing a Lecrae album, I can say that I would be open to hearing another from him. I got more than I bargained for on this one as it exceeded my expectations. As a listener of non-secular hip hop I was weary for what the content would be like, but the subject matter turned out to be my favorite part of this album. Lecrae does his job getting his messages across track by track as well. Still, there are some low points. The production and overall feel of the album gets boring, and some of the music is very generic.