After the release of his debut album, Real Talk, Lecrae marked his place as one of the top rappers in the Christian music industry. And with the release of album number three, he retains that spot, instantly grabbing the number 3 spot on iTunes' Top Rap/Hip Hop Album chart. And with good reason, as Rebel turns out to be Lecrae's best release to date.
A lot of people look at Christian music and say "It's just not as good as the mainstream." But listening to Rebel, it's clear that Lecrae can keep up with the world, as well as rap and hip hop's stylistic changes. The same stuff you hear on the radio can be heard here. He knows what sounds good, and he's using that for God's glory. The only difference is the lyrics, which are full of praise, Christian encouragement and conviction instead of sex, drugs and money. The album title explains the lyrical substance, as most of the songs encourage the listener to be rebellious to the world. The Lil' Wayne-esque "Rebel Intro" has a sample from a preacher talking about real rebellion ("Everyone is sinning, so it's no longer rebellious to sin," and then later, "You're just a conformist if you're drunk and naked driving around on the back of a motorcycle smoking cigarettes and breaking commandments. Everyone's doing that, it's so tired. If you really wanna be a rebel, read your Bible, cause no one's doing that. That's rebellion, that's the only rebellion left.") Living opposite the world's standards is also mentioned in "Don't Waste Your Life" ("People out there living for a job, make a little money, start living for a car, get 'em a wife, a house, kids and a dog, when they retire they livin' high on the hog, but guess what they didn't ever really live at all, to live is Christ, yeah that's Paul I recall, to die is gain so for Christ we give it all"). There's not one time on the album where Lecrae - or the guest vocalist of choice (which in "Don't Waste Your Life" is an apparent newbie named Dwayne Tryumf, who should be one to look out for in the future) - is not focused on Christ. It's so refreshing.
Lecrae mixes things up a little bit with the music. There's some crunk (which is where he shines the most), but he also slows it down a little for songs like "Desperate" (whose chorus is a little weak) and the Isaiah 52:7-inspired "Beautiful Feet." But as I said, where he really shines is the more hardcore rap, like the beautiful beat and chopped and screwed hook of "Got Paper," as well as "Fall Back," which features Reach Record's own Trip Lee, and the hard-hitting "Go Hard." "Go Hard" features an appropriate appearance from Tedashii (whose guest appearances are always hard and fit the music perfectly), and lyrics that are both convicting ("What that mean, that mean that we should be out up in the streets, not just in houses with our Bibles summarizing what we read") and a little - or a lot - scary ("Lord kill me if I don't preach the gospel").
Lecrae is at the top of his game with Rebel. Real Talk and After The Music Stops were great albums, but Rebel definitely tops the both of them. Musically, it's easily as good as (if not better than) anything you will hear on mainstream rap stations. Lyrically, there's no comparison. Lecrae's message is better, and better for you. This is definitely an album that rap fans will want to pick up. And if Lecrae just keeps on getting better each time, his next album should be nothing short of amazing.- Review date: 10/14/08, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Reach Records
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