Lecrae’s ‘Gravity’ Reviewed and Analogized (Guest Post)
Incapable of fully communicating the nuances of a fine wine with mere words, connoisseurs have at times resorted to using analogous terms like “tastes like a meadow” or even “tastes like a damp sock” (uh?) to describe its elusive and difficult-to-pinpoint qualities. Along similar lines, if someone were to ask me to describe Lecrae’s latest album Gravity, I would have to liken it to a slab of jet black asphalt that’s just been doused by a midnight thunderstorm. There are brilliant flashes of lightning and the raw growls of thunder reverberate in the background. It’s dark, sleek and fresh and ultimately the listener is left with the hope that Christ will make all things new in the morning.
Gravity derives its name from the reality that we live in a fallen world where sin and death are constantly trying to pull us down; and yet as believers we have a Savior who has stretched out his hand and laid down his very life to deliver us from the wages of sin.
Admittedly, I was slightly underwhelmed by Lecrae’s last project, the Church Clothes mixtape he released earlier this year. That being said, you’ll be glad to know that Gravity is currently engaged in an aggressive slug fest with Rebel (2008) for being my favorite Lecrae album to date. Willingly or unwillingly, Lecrae has become the quintessential face of Christian hip hop, and consequently, it seems as though he’s battling himself with each album he releases. The fact that Gravity goes toes with Rebel – an album widely regarded as one of the genre’s all-time bests – is a testament to the strength of this latest offering.
Sure, there’s a lot new here, including producers and guest artists who you’ve never seen Lecrae sitting at the lunch table with before, and a number of them are from the world of *gasp* mainstream hip hop. Rest assured, Lecrae hasn’t lost his focus and each song still points to Christ – sometimes overtly and sometimes subtly.
Not all is new, however, and there’s a comfortable familiarity brought to the album by the likes of J.R., Swoope, Trip Lee, Thi’sl, Derek Minor (aka PRo), Sho Baraka, Andy Mineo, Tedashii, and Mali Music.
Gravity wastes no time setting the stage for the project with the intro track “The Drop,” which features a hard-hitting beat and an even harder-hitting Lecrae who energetically asserts “you put that beat on, I’ll beat on this track to relieve my stressin!”
Paradoxically, the title track “Gravity” has a beat that fills my mind with the imagery of free floating through the far reaches of outer space. I quickly snap back to earth when Lecrae forcefully dismantles the merits of relativistic thinking in a single bar, arguing “Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth / I said if that’s the case then why should I believe you?”
Earlier I touched on the fact that, for all intents and purposes, Lecrae has become the face of Christian hip hop. With a refreshing level of transparency, he addresses some of the burdens that come with such a position on “Free From It All”, dishing out these cutting lines: “They lift me up so high that I’m surely about to fall / the higher that I go the more unforgiving they are / No grace and no exceptions, all they want is perfection.”
Craving that classic 116 clique sound? Pilot your way to “Falling Down” and prepare to smile. This Watchmen (J.R., Alex Medina, Wit) produced track teams Lecrae with Trip Lee and Swoope and the results are wonderfully predictable. Solid verses are hammered into the listener’s ear by a bass line that must have been inspired by a war drum.
Your woofers will be crying out for rest but won’t find any as “Fakin” (featuring Thi’sl) and “Violence” surge through your speaker cables. I’m not even sure how to describe “Violence” and perhaps that’s what makes it such an aural feast. It’s as if Lecrae took an airplane from Atlanta to New York and then to Jamaica and stuffed his suitcase with elements from each culture along the way.
You’ll be given a chance to unwind a bit with “Mayday,” an introspective piece dealing with the weighty issue of those who have been driven away from church by modern-day pharisees and hypocrites. Lecrae’s lyricism and wordplay shine in this song:
“Father forgive us for we know not what we do / in my bias I’ve been pious with my nose up in the pews / like Paul I bare good news, they think I’m pallbearin’ / my message sounds like death to these hearers as they perish.”
Skip ahead a few songs (not that these songs aren’t worth listening to, because they absolutely are) and you’ll arrive at “Power Trip,” which features an ice-cold beat that maintains a slower, more deliberate pace for Derek Minor (PRo), Lecrae, and Sho Baraka to drop their poignant verses on. Towards the end of the song, however, things shift into a higher gear and Andy Mineo wraps things up with a series of tongue twisters.
The album starts to wrap things up with “Tell the World” (featuring Mali Music), which paints the following picture in my mind: a storm lingers in the background, but the first slivers of morning light are starting to chase the darkness away. As believers, we’re marching toward the glorious appearing of our Lord, valiantly proclaiming his love to the world with each step.
Finally, the album closes with “Lucky Ones,” a tastefully understated song that celebrates the grace and salvation that believers have received in Christ. It has a somber tone to it and I can’t help but feel that it’s because of the impending judgment coming upon a world that has rejected its Savior. Like survivors who have been rescued from a burning building, we rejoice in our salvation and yet mourn for those who remain inside. This song captures this delicate balance beautifully and is a fitting way to end this outstanding project.
Ultimately, I would award Gravity a 9.5 out of 10 and would label it a must-have for anyone who’s even remotely a fan of hip hop. For an album named after a force that drags and pulls down, it certainly managed to lift my heart, mind, spirit and soul.
Steve Feld is a freelance web designer and online marketing specialist by trade and has a B.S. in marketing management. He is passionate about studying the Bible, backpacking, writing, natural health, and Christian hip hop.