Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
At this stage in Lecrae’s career, is there anything to say that hasn’t already been said? This is the most talked about artist the genre has probably ever seen. No matter what he does it seems as if everyone has an opinion either positive or negative. This type of attention can bury an artist, especially in CHH, because it’s hard to block outside voices. The constant tug and pull wears on an artist. Lecrae has learned to handle (and basically embrace) the polarizing direction his career has gone. In the midst of all of that, he has risen to heights that few even thought possible for a Christian Hip-Hop artist to reach. And over the past few years he has been able to sustain and build on his success.
Even though Lecrae has seemingly done it all as an artist, he’s back again as hungry as ever. His 7th album Anomaly (Sept. 9) has all the expectations and anticipation behind it that we’ve become accustom to. This hasn’t seemed to affect Lecrae. He has offered hors d’oeuvres for his fans in the forms of music videos for “Nuthin” and “All I Need Is You.” He has also streamed the entire album a week early through iTunes Radio, which is a pretty gutsy move. He seems confident and comfortable going into this record, maybe more so than ever.
The question is, did that pay off in the form of another great record for Lecrae?
What to expect from Anomaly
After six albums, two mixtapes, and four compilations you would think we would have a full understanding of Lecrae’s sound. Usually this far in, you can pinpoint a specific sound that that artist has. This isn’t the case with Lecrae. His sound is very unique and versatile. Throughout his career we have seen a wide array of music from him. In his early years there was a lot of “turn up” (or hype) music like his second album After The Music Stops, and there was also a lot of blatant theology like on his third album Rebel. Then he displayed more of a mainstream sound on Rehab. After that came the Church Clothes years, which provided more lyricism and seemed directed towards the hip-hop heads. Anomaly is a mash of all of these sounds.
This record is Lecrae’s perfect sound, which is a mixture of several different styles. You get the full picture of Lecrae’s growth and his sound all wrapped up in this record. “Dirty Water” is a gut punching and hard hitting track that brings fans back to early Lecrae. “Nuthin” is a beautiful display of lyricism that will satisfy the heads. “Messengers” featuring For King and Country has more of a mainstream (CCM) sound. Bringing all of these sounds together is very difficult, but Lecrae meshed them together beautifully. The sound on Anomaly came together perfect for Lecrae and for the listener. There is something on here for everyone to enjoy.
This is an area in which Lecrae has shown continual growth in over the years. It seems as if Lecrae just continues to get better with his lyricism on every record. Anomaly is more evidence to this point. Lecrae brought some really good lyricism on this record. He showcased several different types of lyricism throughout the whole record, which makes Anomaly one of the more consistently lyrical records he’s had. Lecrae used storytelling on “Welcome to America”, conceptual lyricism on “Timepiece” and “Wish”, and he brought some very transparent lyricism on “Good, Bad, Ugly.”
Anomaly also brought us some theologically heavy tracks. That is something that has been a trouble area for some fans recently, but there is no doubt what the motivation and focus of this record is. It may have not been as overt as in the past but the theology was obvious throughout the record. On top of that Lecrae brought some heavy bars. The title track “Anomaly” and “Runners” had Lecrae flexing his lyrical muscles. Overall the lyricism on Anomaly was pretty impressive.
The Playback Value
In today’s hip-hop it is extremely difficult to hold fans attention. There is so much music coming out and coming out so frequently, that it’s hard to stay in the forefront of people’s minds (and playlists). By virtue of that playback value has become increasingly important. This is an area that Lecrae nails with almost every record he has. There is always, at least, one track that fans cannot stop playing for months with every release. Anomaly has one of those: “Dirty Water.” This is an immediate playback track.The beat itself is enough to continually bring listeners back time and time again. If that’s not enough this track also has the lyrical depth and creativity to carry on for a long time.
It’s nice to have one or two tracks that fans will remember and go back to, but the goal is to create an album that people will continually go back to. At first listen, it didn’t seem as if Lecrae had that. With each additional listen Anomaly gets considerably better. After a few listens this album has several songs with high playback value like “Fear” and “Runners.” Both of these tracks are a good reflection as a whole because first impressions are just okay, but each listen you can hear the value in them. The beautiful artistry and lyrical depth shows itself the more you listen. Lecrae crafted an album that you can sit and listen to in its entirety. It came together pretty well and provides plenty of playback value for fans.
This is an album that has some sneaky greatness to it. It is not Lecrae’s best album. Anomaly lacks the full and consistent concept and cultural impact that an album like Rebel had. However, this album is still great. It has all the elements that great albums have. It also shows how great Lecrae really is. He makes music that few have ever been able to make. He meshes genres, styles, and people in a way that few can match. That’s exactly what Anomaly is. And that is exactly what makes Anomaly great.
Lecrae’s Anomaly is currently available for purchase on iTunes.