LABEL: REACH RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 30, 2008
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5
I’ve been waiting for “Rebel” to drop for a long time now. Reach Record is always pushing the envelop with its artists and Lecrae’s latest is not exception. This is nearly sixty minutes of a straight-ahead gospel message wrapped in fresh hooks, tight beats, and amazing alliteration. Lecrae is an impressive artist who displays maturity in his craft, relationships, and knowledge of the Christian faith. Pick this one up!
Lecrae brings impressive weight in the form of his 3rd studio effort, “Rebel.” I wasn’t necessarily disappointed with his previous outing “After The Music Stops,” but I feel something was lost in translation when compared to his debut effort, “Real Talk.” With the exception of a few buttery hot tracks, ATMS didn’t capture the essence of its predecessor. Truth be told, “Real Talk” was my introduction to the Reach Records brand and it was earth-shattering for me, so nothing was going to follow and meet my expectations. But, “Rebel” is a return to form for the Reach emcee. Taking the best elements of both albums, Lecrae has returned to the studio booth with a measure of maturity and spiritual depth that betrays growth in so many areas necessary to the craft.
The album starts out with the 3-minute “Rebel Intro” that really sets the theme for the new project by using a sweet sample of Pastor Mark Driscoll making the claim that to be a Christian in today’s sin-soaked world is to be the true rebel. The John Piper-influenced track “Don’t Waste Your Life” kicks things into high gear and features Cam crooning over the chorus and rumored Reach Records newcomer (and resident Briton), Dwayne Tryumf sharing lyrical duties with Lecrae. “Go Hard” features Tedashii and Lecrae and T-Dot switch off, rapping, “Lord kill me if I don’t preach the gospel/Still in my 20’s but I’ll die if I got to…” “Indwelling Sin,” “Breathin’ to Death,” and “Truth” finds the artist standing on his own two feet without any guest spots. The tracks act kind of as a three-part story arc. The beats are slowed down, but fresh and startling in their relevance. “Desperate” will absolutely floor you. It’s not a banger. It’s not hard-hitting. In fact, it treads the fine line between hip-hop and R&B, oftentimes defying classification. This track is amazing in the respect that you can literally feel the heavy heart with which Lecrae spits his lyrics. The song comes from the POV of someone struggling with feeling as if their sin is keeping them from a close relationship with God. Everyone can resonate with this one. Label mate Trip Lee shows up on “Fall Back” and you can really feel his influence on the track. Recapturing the energy that made “Jesus Muzik” so hot, Lecrae and Trip have developed quite the rapport. What Bonafide and Coffee (Grits) are for party rap, Lecrae and Trip are for theologically-charged rap. This number bangs with a decidedly East Coast vibe crashing headlong into Trip’s Texas swagger. The album ends with “Beautiful Feet.” Here Lecrae “lands the plane” by doing what he does best—telling a story through rhyme. Listeners will definitely compare the style to “Prayin’ For You” from his second album. Newcomer Dawntoya adds a certain flare to the track during the chorus line that compliments the piece well.
A noticeable difference with “Rebel” is the amount of slow songs compared to the number of “bangers.” While there are certainly a few tracks that will have you dippin’ your shoulders, Lecrae has slowed things down considerably on this album. Its as if the artist wants the listener to really take in what it is he has to say. This can work for or against the album. In my opinion, it works. Lecrae isn’t a party rapper. While I’m sure the emcee doesn’t have anything against party rap, per se, he knows that he must tread the fine line between being culturally relevant/engaging and theologically sound. The one thing that was a little difficult for me was the amount of guest artists on the album. Half of the tracks on this project features another artist. To Lecrae’s credit, these guest spots are all stellar. But, having arrived at his third studio album, the artist need not rely on the abilities of others to prove himself to his listeners. His fans aren’t going anywhere, so that means Lecrae isn’t going anywhere for awhile.
I’ve been waiting for “Rebel” to drop for a long time now. Reach Records is always pushing the envelop with its artists and Lecrae’s latest is not exception. This is nearly sixty minutes of a straight-ahead gospel message wrapped in fresh hooks, tight beats, and amazing alliteration. Lecrae is an impressive artist who displays maturity in his craft, relationships, and knowledge of the Christian faith. Pick this one up!
1. Rebel Intro
2. Don’t Waste Your Life ft. Cam, Dwayne Tryumf
3. Go Hard ft. Tedashii
4. Identity ft. Da T.R.U.TH., JR
5. Indwelling Sin
6. Breathin’ To Death
8. Desperate ft. Cam
10. Fall Back ft. Trip Lee
11. Live Free ft. Sho Baraka, Jai
12. Got Paper
13. I’m a Saint
14. The Bride
15. Beautiful Feet ft. Dawntoya