Historians say that rap has been around for centuries, evolving from decade to decade. Some teens find it amusing that rap could be heading back to its gospel roots. Rapper Lecrae will make them swallow their laughter. He became the first Christian artist to have a number one album on the Billboard Hot 200 chart with his album Anomaly. Lecrae has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian music and has even joined forces with secular artists. His music and social activism can be found across popular culture, and he even performed at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards.
Although his albums have been largely successful, his singles have never had much commercial success. This is simply because music stations and people turn away from his “Christian” label. They fear that Lecrae’s music will teleport them into the world’s most boring church service. To combat this, Lecrae decided to sign with Columbia records in 2016 and is now known as strictly a hip hop/rap artist. In signing with Columbia records, Lecrae hopes that he can spread Jesus around the world by reaching a larger audience.
In Lecrae’s newest album, Let the Trap Say Amen, He partnered with Zaytoven, an American record producer, DJ, and pianist. Zaytoven has worked with many southern rappers such as Migos and Gucci Mane. This was his second album being signed with Columbia records.
At first this album did not strike my interest. Compared to past albums by Lecrae, it seemed rushed, generic and overproduced. After listening to this album on repeat, though, the songs began to stick in my head. Giving it a closer listen, I realized unique things that Lecrae and Zaytoven incorporated into this album. Also, the collaboration with artists, both amateur and professional, gave the album a variety of sounds. I realized that this album was not as bad as I originally thought it to be. Let the Trap Say Amen is just different from Lecrae’s past albums. While this album doesn’t seem to contain memorable songs, its tunes could be used during an evening workout. It wasn’t nearly as successful as past albums, only reaching number 49 on the Billboard 200 charts. His biggest song on the record was “Get Back Right.” But that did not gain much commercial success, partly because there was not as much advertising for it compared to his most known album Anomaly.
Lecrae may not be under a Christian label anymore, but the message of Let the Trap Say Amen is still the same as past albums. He finds inspiration from his past life, where he experienced abuse and neglect. In his teen years, he resorted to stealing, violence and drugs. After years of hopelessness and a seemingly determined destiny, Lecrae dedicated his life to Jesus at the age of 19. Due to his troubled past, he does not sugarcoat his lyrics. Like many secular artists, he raps about drugs, poverty, sex, and suicide. The difference between Lecrae and other artists is that his lyrics show there can be hope in addiction. His newest album spreads a theme that the only way to escape the “trap” is with Jesus. It also offers a different angle on the Trap, saying that although the Trap includes many of the horrors that people may assume, it also contains love and good things too.
“Dope man dope man dope man/Do sell don't tell don’t tell/Never hug his kids again but prosecutors don't care”- Lecrae 2 Sides of the Game. Lyrics like this can be found throughout Let The Trap Say Amen. Lecrae doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, which makes this one of his most lyrically genius albums. In the past he was somewhat limited to what he could write about. This album shows that is no longer the case.
He told Billboard in 2018, “Truthfully, I’m at a point now where I’m not even worried about what people think I should be saying or doing. They don’t tuck my kids in at night. They can’t answer to God for me. I’ve got to be who God created Lecrae to be. That’s all I can do. Anything else just makes me a slave. A slave to the opinions of people who don’t know me; a slave to their money; a slave to their desires for me. But I don’t have time to focus on that. I’m free. So, every time you hear me, just know that I’m speaking as a liberated person.” His new way of thinking has allowed him to create a lyrical masterpiece. That being said, I give the album Let The Trap Say Amen 7 out of 10 stars.
Header photo from Creative Commons. Lecrae performs for service members and their families on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Pinkney)
Thumbnail photo in public domain- Lecrae Rehab promotional picture 2010 - source One Sixteen