Lecrae jumps back on the scene with Church Clothes! After listening to this project repeatedly, it almost felt like Lecrae was aiming to clean out his closet. Well, his closet and a little bit of the Church’s closet as well. With that being said, if this project doesn’t provoke an emotional response from you, you weren’t listening. Lecrae didn’t come with just a normal compilation of bangers to preach to on this one. He flexed his artistic muscle and exposed his whole wardrobe. Church Clothes is an extremely diverse production, and once again Lecrae is leading the pack. How? Not because he has the tightest lyrics and not because he has the best beats. …Naw, that’s not it at all. Normally, the biggest challenge of a Christian rapper is putting out a project that is excellent sonically and with substance while still provoking countless bystanders to listen. Lecrae has already accomplished that. It’s obvious that Lecrae set his sights higher this time. The undertone of this project was the aim to create something bigger than just another Christian rap CD and in my humble opinion, he succeeded. If you’re just happy to have this project to add to your playlist, you’ve missed the point. Church Clothes is a public declaration by Lecrae that he’s stepping out of the box we made for him. It’s Dikembe Mutumbo flaring his elbows out after he gets a rebound. Whether you agree with what he says or not, it might be wise to back up and watch or get hit by an “inadvertent blow”. Trust me, Lecrae didn’t pull any punches in this one. This brings me to the high point of this project…
The content of this project is extremely deep. Not deep as in mentally challenging, but deep as in straight from the soul. He paints a very ugly picture of reality, but he painted it on a canvas of hope. He actually kinda scared me on the actual song “Church Clothes”, because he never specified that he wasn’t talking about himself. Look, I’m analytical by nature. If you’re speaking figuratively, say so or I’ll take you seriously (…That’s just how I’m wired). Sorry for getting a little ahead of myself. Let me give you a taste. “Plus, I know ol’ girl a freak, but how she singing the solo?/I walked in the church with a snap back and they tell me that’s a no-no?/That’s backwards and I lack words for these actors called pastors/All these folks are hypocrites and that’s why I ain’t at church./Truthfully, I’m just doing me, and I don’t wanna face no scrutiny/As long as the church keep wildin’ out I can justify all my foolish deeds.” Honestly, that’s a “nicer” part. “Church Clothes” (the actual song) reminded me of Tonex’s “Naked Truth”. The main difference is Lecrae didn’t curse. He spoke the truth and yes, it made me cringe. With all of that being said, I get the message of the song. We (the Church) have a lot of serious problems in our ranks, and we wrongly judge a person based on outward appearance (read: “stupid” standards) instead of showing God’s love to everyone and letting God work on us all. That’s real. Unfortunately, the potential of this song (and other lyrics on this project) to confuse others is real too. *This is not the type of album you can halfway listen to…trust me, I tried.
*My first listen to any project is rarely with undivided attention, but I had to stop what I was doing and rewind a lot with this one.
I don’t feel pressured to give you all a play-by-play of each song, because this mixtape is free. If you’re interested enough, you can go right here to download it (did I mention it was free?). I definitely had my favorites, though. Thi’sl was an awesome feature on “APB”. “Co-Sign” and “Church Clothes” are all nice songs as well (and there’s more where that came from). Ironically, I found myself singing the more laid back “Welcome to H-town” more than anything and I’ve only visited Houston a few times. “Black Rose” sticks out as the song I skip the most. The sound on this project is extremely diverse, so don’t just expect a down South feel. It’s there, but it doesn’t dominate this project at all.
Lastly, I’ll add this disclaimer: please don’t read into the first two paragraphs of this project as “praise”. My review for Rehab was praise. I’m just being factual here. As I said, this project will provoke an emotional response from you. My emotional response was not all positive, but after listening closer I understand the message and the method. I’m not sure if the average Christian rap fan will realize that this project was less for the Church and more for the streets. I’m aware of Lecrae’s record label and all, but at times it seemed like he was just reaching. But that’s irrelevant here. Time will tell. At the end of the day you may like watching Kobe or Lebron play, but that doesn’t mean you agree with every shot they take. Does this mean that he didn’t “bring it”? Of course not! This is a powerful project! You did see the rating, didn’t you?
- Music 8
- Flow 9.5
- Lyricism 8
- Content 8.5
- Creativity 10
- Credibility 9.5
- Personality 9.5
- Presentation 8
- Overall Production 9
- Potential Impact 10