David Austin Black
Lecrae. A name known by quite a few people, and not only those familiar with the Christian rap scene. He is indisputably the most prominent figure in uplifting hip-hop, and the fact that Anomaly was 1# overall on iTunes for a time shows that fact. His previous albums have been very well-received by critics, Gravity being his most recent release (I am not including mixtapes here). Does Anomaly measure up to Lecrae’s previous projects? Let’s see.
Anomaly opens up with “Outsiders.” This song is the Lecrae we know and love. It’s a nice opening; nothing outstanding, but it definitely gives any listener familiar with Lecrae a bit of déja vu. Afterwards, we get a track that tells a story. Well, three stories, to be exact. Three different opinions regarding America from three different individuals told through Lecrae’s signature southern style of rap over a reasonably atypical beat. This is a standout, and it makes the listener eager to see what else Lecrae has to offer.
Andy Mineo is featured in “Say I Won’t.” A fun collaboration discussing living unashamedly, it’s a nice departure from the seriousness of the previous semi-heavy topic. This is not Mineo’s best work, but Lecrae kills it on this song and it is most definitely worth a few listens. Having had a bit of fun, Lecrae takes the gloves off. “Nothin” is a no-holds-barred social commentary that heavily criticizes the messages spread by mainstream hip-hop/rap community. It’s good. Not Lecrae’s best, but the lyrics are meaningful and insightful.
“Timepiece” is a low-key thought-process-made-music about time. Our time is precious on this Earth, and as Christians we are called to make the most of it. On this track, Lecrae questions what exactly “making the most of it” means. Then we’ve got “Dirty Water.” Completely opposite to the previous track, “Dirty Water” has a pretty, well, dirty beat. And I mean that in a good way. It’s not clean, it’s not polished, and that works quite well. The focus of the song is yet another social commentary, but this time focusing more on the African-American community as opposed to the mainstream hip-hop community.
My personal favorite song on this album, “Runners” has a sick beat and even sicker rhymes. A rap written to discourage adultery, this track will get listeners bobbing their heads with the beat faster than any of the others on the album. Thankfully, Lecrae is not only a good rapper, but he’s also quite goofy at times. This is evident in the music video he made for “All I Need Is You”, which was written about his wife. It’s cute, unashamed, and I like it very much indeed.
Now, I don’t exactly know who Cystal Nicole is. But she’s on “Give In”, and is obviously gifted in the vocal area. Unfortunately (or fortunately, from a different perspective), it seems like this song was only made to give her some exposure. I hope it works, but the song is just “meh” in my opinion. Fortunately, “Good, Bad, and Ugly” brings us back around. It’s an uncomfortable, yet necessary, discussion about guilt from sexual sin. But it is optimistic, as Lecrae raps “We are not defined by our past/the future looks bright/ I see the light on.”
To close out Anomaly, we are presented with two more collaborations. “Broken” features Kari Jobe, and strangely reminded me a bit of Evanescence’s collaboration with Lincoln Park. It works much better than the earlier collaboration with Crystal Nicole; Kari’s voice actually goes exceptionally well with Lecrae’s rapping style. To close out the album, we have Messengers, featuring “For King and Country.” It is CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) made for radio. I feel the song is over-produced, and as is such it fell flat for me.
+ It's Lecrae
+ Meaningful and uplifting lyrics
+ Nice variation
- An unnecessary collaboration
- A single bit of over-production