While Gospel rapper Lecrae may not be the first rapper in his genre to ever release a mixtape, Church Clothes may be causing the biggest buzz than any of its predecessors. I was first introduced to Lecrae by a coworker a couple of years ago. Since then, I have purchased his Rehab and Rehab: The Overdose CDs and downloaded his new mixtape, Church Clothes. All 3 CDs are in heavy rotation on my iPod now. I downloaded his new mixtape on www.datpiff.com and if you haven’t heard it, you should check it out. And the best part…it’s free! Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear the word mixtape, I don’t generally think of gospel music. The extent of artists I would expect to release mixtapes would be Nicki Minaj or even Raheem Devaughn. But has gospel music gone too far when it can be found in the same bucket so to speak as hard-core secular music?
Some call it blasphemy, but I call it genius. Many people who aren’t even avid listeners of gospel music have tuned in to Lecrae and what he has to say on Church Clothes. The mixtape’s title track is probably the most controversial song with lyrics like “They telling me I’m gon reap a mil/If I sow into these low crooks…I lack words for these actors called Pastors”. He is basically speaking from the point of view of someone who believes the church is nothing but a place that’s full of hypocrites. Is he saying he is that person? No. But, the production and delivery of his rap here can easily be poured into the mold of current secular rap music. So was this done on purpose to catch people’s attention (and save souls) or just by happenstance? But one thing is for sure, you can’t deny his talent.
A native of Houston, TX (my hometown), he has the down south appeal of mainstream secular artists like UGK and T.I. But if you listen closely to his lyrics, he’s delivering a positive message. On the song “Black Rose”, he raps over a track that could be well suited for reggae rapper Sean Paul and delivers a concept reminiscent of Tupac (The Rose That Grew From Concrete). Despite any secular artists that he may remind you of, Lecrae proves he has carved out his own lane. In my opinion, the concept of Church Clothes embodies the “come as you are” concept, with great production and meaningful lyrics. Some people may still believe that this type of music is too radical for gospel music. Church Clothes even features an appearance from No Malice (formerly named “Malice” of the duo The Clipse…remember their hit song “Grinding”?). True, the approach may be unconventional, but you can’t deny the reach it’s gaining in the process.
I may have been a little late finding out about Lecrae (and the group he’s a member of, 116 Clique), but from everything I’ve heard from him thus far, he’s definitely gained a fan. Lecrae boldly states that his style is not gospel, and can sit comfortably next to any hip hop artist. Truth is, he’s exactly right. With almost 300,000 downloads in just 3 months of its release, Church Clothes is impacting many people. Have you heard Lecrae’s music? What do you think of it or Christian/gospel rap period?