Rating: 8.5 / 10
Lecrae has become one of the more recognizable faces in Hip-Hop for several reasons, including his skill as a rapper and his strong spiritual beliefs (and not always in that order). Being recognized in Christian music for quite some time, Lecrae has slowly but surely begun to garner the attention of others off his skill (because, to be honest, most “Gospel rappers” can’t rap that well). With the talent being undeniable through BET appearances and stellar outputs from his brothers at Reach Records, the eyes of critics are on them now more than ever.
It’s only appropriate that Lecrae releases Gravity, an album with seemingly several meanings (but only one, in hindsight… the weight, or seriousness, of life). Whether it’s based on that hollow feeling that happens when partying (for some), or that stage when it finally ends and the consequences are set in stone, or even just the overwhelming dealings of stress, the album deals with almost all of that in a way that’s more sonically aggressive than his last LP.
That aggressiveness starts early, as he takes a page from his Church Clothes mixtape and drops into his intro (“The Drop”) with a focused energy that instantly matches the vibe of the production. That energy is maintained for the entire album, as Lecrae rotates in and out secular artists and Christian artists seamlessly, including a notable feature with R&B/Soul singer Novel and Big K.R.I.T. on “Walk With Me” and “Mayday”, respectively (with the latter featuring production from DJ Khalil, who’s produced for Drake, Slaughterhouse, Clipse, Eminem, and more). The most impressive thing is how comfortable all of the artists are; Novel does indeed lace his track as proper as ever, while Big K.R.I.T. arguably delivers one of his best, introspective verses since “Red Eye” from his 4Eva N A Day mixtape.
That’s not to say that the rest of the album is weak; that would be misleading. Lecrae’s message rings clear on every song, as he addresses several real issues that most people (if not all) can relate to. From the hollowness that comes from having money and no peace in “Confe$$ions”, to the psychological issues that comes with being in the spotlight in “Free From It All”, to addressing the mind state behind homicide and gang-banging in “Violence” (which is more timely than ever due to the circumstances in Chicago), each song has a clear purpose through lyrics. The production here helps to further the message well, with DJ Official, Heat Academy, The Watchmen, J.R., and Joseph Prielozny behind the boards (among others).
As great as the album is, there are still some missteps that somewhat knock off the vibe, such as the forced “Turn Up” chant at the end of “Lord Have Mercy”, but even that’s nitpicking. Gravity is thoroughly crafted, and is as good as any other release that’s out right now. Lecrae’s made a name for himself through reestablishing God’s name in Hip-Hop, and unless the quality of his music and Reach Records suddenly takes a dip, we’ll be hearing his name for quite some time. He’s consistently improving with his rhymes, and taking all he’s learned into thought when creating albums; as long as that’s happening, the sky is truly the limit for him… no gravity required.