“I am so authentic, I’m so off in it /
They try to figure me out, but it’s not a gimmick /
Hi Hip-Hop, don’t act like you don’t know me /
We got the same mama! Don’t you try to disown me...”
As the Don Cannon and Lecrae collaboration begins, Lecrae addresses how critics try to categorize what he does by placing all of his songs, lyrics, and content-related material into a “box”. It’s a reaction for some to categorize or stereotype music when explaining it to others, and it’s easier to do when you realize the content is Christian in almost every aspect. Although it's easier to simply box his music, so much is missed if you only take that assumption to be the finalizing word. Lecrae’s a great rapper with strong beliefs, and both of those dimensions battle for supremacy in Church Clothes.
The most impressive thing about Church Clothes is its ability to focus on the Christian values without coming off as preachy, or even Bible-thumping. Lecrae speaks from his experiences and his convictions, and it’s ingrained within the lyrics. It’s evident in the Texas-inspired “Welcome To H-Town” (featuring Dre Murray and Reach Record labelmate Tedashii), which has Lecrae and company rhyming about their ties to the city in a way that would make DJ Screw proud. It’s on display alongside ex-Clipse member No Malice, as they rhyme about their beliefs on “Darkest Hour” (although the hook’s cheesy in comparison to the rest of the project). It’s also showcased when addressing people of their self-worth on “Special” and “Rise”, with the latter being produced by 9th Wonder.
The production (which features the aforementioned 9th Wonder, Boi-1da, Street Symphony, and others) and overall presentation makes this feel as if it could be slid into a CD changer alongside other Don Cannon projects. However, the messages from Church Clothes ring with clarity and a determination that most rappers have to pay to achieve. There’s a sense of purpose in Lecrae’s lyrics, and refreshingly, his rhymes don’t ever take a back seat to the message; they instead coordinate rather well together, pun intended. With Church Clothes being topped off with most of the features delivering solid verses (Thisl, Tedashii, Andy Mineo, and more), it’s hard to categorize Lecrae as a Gospel rapper, when there seems to be much more to him than that generic label. It’s good music, and well worth the time if you’re interested in listening for yourself.
“I’m not a Gospel rapper, not a Holy Roller /
I’m just a product of Grace, spreading hope to the hopeless…”