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September 04, 2012
Today marks the release of Gravity, the newest project from Lecrae, the most prominent of the Christian rappers. I received an advance copy of the album and, being entirely underqualified to judge or review it, sat down with my friend Sope (a.k.a. Spoken whom you may remember as my co-conspirator in The Middle-Aged White Guy’s Guide to Christian Rap) as he gave it a listen. He gave me a song-by-song breakdown and summarized the album like this:
True to his reputation, Lecrae delivers yet another solid project that is both rich in truth and yet culturally relevant. In recent years, Lecrae has garnered the attention of prominent ears in mainstream music and with that in mind, the most impressive thing about this project is his ability to remain militant in his profession of faith. Having observed many professed Christians wither away in their profession after gaining mass appeal, we were all concerned as Lecrae’s platform continued to reach new heights. Lecrae himself realizes the precarious balance he has to maintain in being a light in such a sin-infested genre, yet without succumbing to the too-typical Christian clichés (churchy, judgmental, etc). Listening to this project, it is clear that Lecrae is beginning to embrace the unique position God has given him, and that he is learning to better execute the responsibilities. His songs are bold and biblical, yet gritty and gutter. His message in unapologetically presented in a fashion relevant to the culture. His confidence as a believer does not appear to be shaken in the slightest.
In sum, when Lecrae set out to make Gravity, he intended to bring some weight to bear on the matters of life. His aim was to jolt the unbelieving world out of their drunken haze and the believers out of their aloof comfort. He has accomplished that with this project. The unbelieving world will find it challenging, as will the believing community.
Sope’s top tracks are “Free From It All,” “Falling Down,” “Fakin’ ” and “Mayday.” And for what it’s worth, I’m right there with him. This is a bold and powerful album that asks better questions and provides better answers than what you’ll find anywhere in the hip-hop mainstream.
Light for the Lost Boy - Andrew Peterson is to the world of acoustic music what Lecrae is to Christian rap. Peterson’s latest album released just one week ago. “Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, it’s happened to everybody—eventually we all cross the threshold from innocence to heartbreak. Pulsing with the hurt of the human condition, Andrew’s music also captures the beauty, hope, and love of God’s redemption in ‘Come Back Soon,’ ‘The Cornerstone,’ ‘The Ballad of Jody Baxter,’ ‘The Voice of Jesus,’ ‘Carry the Fire,’ and more.” Here is how Christianity Today describes the album:
Peterson delivers with maturity that mostly avoids the cliché and sentimentality of adult contemporary radio, though “Rest Easy” and “The Voice of Jesus” tilt slightly to that direction. But he mostly avoids the shortcuts of a three-minute pop song. Instead Peterson draws us deeper into the yearning where life and love are savored against their unavoidable losses—and where glowing hope always remains.
Grace Alone - Grace Alone comes from The Modern Post and the Mars Hill Music label. “The Modern Post, one of the bands at Mars Hill Church Orange County, are known for their upbeat, synth-laden and bass-heavy sound that leads the congregation to praise the creator with freedom and joy. Their name connects to the idea of how the Gospel is news to be declared, with content that is relevant and current regardless of what era one is living in.”
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The band’s sound was not one that was originally planned for. In Dustin’s words, “it happened”. Having the perspective that much worship music can be overly sentimental, they choose to push against that by creating music that is celebratory and upbeat. As a result, The Modern Post’s sound is one that bespeaks robust joy, and leads people to exult in the good news that Jesus is relevant for all generations.