After over two years of silence, acclaimed rapper Lecrae has released his newest album, aptly titled “Restoration“. The album, containing tracks featuring popular artists John Legend and YK Osiris, has been met with wide success, garnering over 2 million YouTube views within mere days of being released.
What happened? What caused his music to take such an extraordinary shift?
While his previous album, Let the Trap Say Amen, was highly criticized by both fans and critics alike, Lecrae has fallen back on his God-glorifying music, reminiscent of his 2014 album Anomaly. The new album focuses on the restoration of his faith, belief, and spiritual livelihood using an upbeat, laid-back soundtrack.
At first glance, the change in Lecrae’s music seems to be fairly large. The flow has shifted, moving from a trap-type beat to a more hip-hop/new-flow rap flow. Zaytoven isn’t included in this album (and it shows), and the featuring artists actually play a vital role in the music.
But upon taking a closer look at the two albums, we find the change to be far more dramatic than initially predicted. While it was clear that Lecrae had been going through a difficult time when Let the Trap Say Amen was published, Restoration shows the true difficulty of what the Christian rapper had gone through.
After Anomaly peaked #1 on gospel and secular charts in 2014, Lecrae lost many fans because of the shift he took in both music and title. Understandably rejecting the title “Christian rapper”, Lecrae followed a path similar to the one taken by award-winning artist NF, choosing to become “A Christian who raps”. “My music isn’t Christian, but I am”, he said in an interview in 2014.
What this means, few will know, since All Things Work Together appeared to turn political (despite containing plenty of gospel rap) and Let the Trap Say Amen failed to satisfy Christian fans, finding acceptance only within the secular audience. Between the two albums, the only song to receive more than 10 million views (excluding “Blessings”) was, ironically, the most popular song of Lecrae’s career, “I’ll Find You” (featuring Tori Kelly), which received 65+ million views and a platinum certification. The song further emphasized the fact that Lecrae was going through a difficult time, beginning with the line, “I’m hanging on by a thread, and all I’m clinging to is prayers”.
After Let the Trap Say Amen, it became further apparent that Lecrae had mostly removed God from his music and he appeared to be struggling with his Christian walk. His Christian fans all but deserted him, and his secular fans seemed to be confused by his political and racial stances, calling him a “sellout” and “fake”.
Lecrae has described the struggles of the past two years as being both spiritual and mental, furthered by the lashback from Christian Evangelicals because of his stance on political and racial tensions. Lecrae was, yet again, being judged and hated because of his beliefs. The audience that had once accepted him turned on him, labeling him as a “washed-up Christian” and even going so far as to accuse him of becoming Illuminati.
The madness didn’t end. Lecrae received further lashback because of his stance on racial issues and, although now being lauded as a hero and frontier runner of racial justice, he continued to fall into a time of deep depression, as evident in the few interviews he conducted between 2018 and 2020.
Yet now is the time for Restoration! The album’s title contains a double meaning, referencing the restoration of Lecrae’s faith and fanbase. Those who hated him and his stance on racial issues are now those proclaiming that his song Deep End, written after the shooting of George Floyd, is necessary and relevant to today’s changes. His Christian fanbase appears to have returned, since his album has received more views and comments from Christian Evangelicals then his work has in years.
The album also highlights the work that God has done in Lecrae’s life, restoring him and his spiritual relationship with the Father. Restoration is upbeat and positive, encouraging Christians and non-believers alike.
And, while not completely returning to the gospel rap of pre-2018, the album glorifies God in capital letters. Lecrae does not shy away from his faith, preferring instead to proclaim his beliefs and let the critics type away.
This critic, on the other hand, has nothing negative to say. I am greatly encouraged by Lecrae’s Restoration, and if I were so bold as to give it a rating, I would award it 4.7 out of 5. The album’s 4 most popular songs, “Set Me Free”, “Drown”, “Deep End”, and “Zombie” (in order of YouTube views) each narrate a struggle that God has helped Lecrae work through. “Set Me Free” discusses the depression and deep sadness caused by the hatred over his music and beliefs. In “Drown“, Lecrae talks about his absolute need for God, replacing the opinion of the created with that of the Creator. “Deep End“, added towards the end of the album, highlights Lecrae’s struggles with today’s racial tensions. “Zombie“, the final piece to the puzzle, shows Lecrae’s growth in his spiritual walk, saying “Demons used to haunt me.
Then I heard the voice of God, I’m grateful Jesus called me.”
Lecrae has been restored by God and that’s all that matters. As Christians, we are called to live for the glory of God, not man. Lecrae has walked his walk faithfully and will be rewarded. Lecrae, if you somehow read this, know that you have a lifetime supporter in the author, and he will always be praying for you.
Finally, for those of you that have hated on Lecrae and his music for the past three years: every single human being on this planet struggles with something, and Lecrae is no exception. Leave the man alone. The only person with the right to judge him is God, and He reserves judgement for those who do not believe in Him. Turn your focus on yourselves instead of judging a man who has walked through more pain in a decade than most will in a lifetime.
Restoration will come to those who ask for it. While some have a harder journey than others, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we are in constant need of restoration. Praise be to Jesus Christ for restoring us into relationship with God!
You can buy or listen to Restoration by clicking here.
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