For more content from our guest contributor Gary Anderson log on to http://www.searchingforchetbaker.com/.
Growing up I was raised Christian, and some of the kids in the church I went to would encourage me to listen to the Christian rock and rap music that they would listen to. However when I listened to it, 90% of it was garbage. The production was straight trash, the words were overly simplistic and had the subtlty of a hammer to the face.
As a result, I tended to look down on Christian music, although I was always wanting to find something I could listen to and not feel embarrassed at the end result. Too often the Christian hip hop would come off like watered down hip hop that wouldn't offend the old white parents of the target audience, which in effect made it unlistenable.
Over the years, however, there seems to have been a trend of truly talented artists that have emerged on the scene that combine the quality production and talent of the more mainstream music, not to mention the quality of writing, and the message of the Christian faith, that has made it more accessible and less embarrassing.
Artists like Canton Jones, Shei Atkins and Lecrae has utilized the music of the mainstream to get their message of Christianity to the masses, and it's an overwhelming success.
Lecrae recently released his album "Rehab", and as I'm listening to it I'm genuinely shocked. This is, by all account, an excellent album. The production values are through the roof, the guest spots are top notch, and the lyricism is on point.
In what is probably the best song on the album, "Killa", the production is a thing of beauty, the female vocalist is really good, and the quality of the lyrics are pretty amazing, particularly for the genre:
Her feet go down to DEATH, so don't let her consume you
Even though her heart is black, her exterior's beautiful
She'll take your life away, strip away your joy
Pretends that she gon build you up but she's just gon destroy you
My friends fell low, when they was so high
Got me running scared of myself, no lie
And I know I'm gon die, I tried cold turkey
But when I'm feeling worthy, Satan's sure trying to merk me
I'm doing myself dirty, flirting with whats perverted
I should follow the Word but I guess I'd rather be murdered
Excuse me I mean martyred 'cause I'm killing myself
My sin conceived a baby, and we gon name it death, breath
(Gasps) -Taker, she take my breath away
Replaces it with poison and I'm so swept away
That's an example of the embrace of the metaphor, which is an aspect that has been sorely missing in the genre, and is why it's been so easy to dismiss Christian hip hop in the past. Lyrics that are getting the message across, without hammering someone over the head with it. Telling his story, spreading the word of God, without being overbearing and "preaching". That's a fine line to walk where you want to say what you feel blessed and inspired to say, yet you want to do it in a way that is able to be received.
I'd never heard of Lecrae before this album, but I've heard so much about him since it dropped, and when I've been buying music off of Amazon's MP3 site, I kept seeing that cover, but didn't know who it was. I thought it was just some random new hip hop album that I'd probably not like, so I paid it no mind.
Now I'm listening and can't stop. The beats on this album are no joke, and as I said the production overall is top notch. I think Lecrae represents the best that Christian hip hop has to offer, and can do wonders for the entire genre, and bring over some that would normally never listen to Christian music. Because of the lack of production and talent, it's been very easy to simply dismiss it. Now, with artists like Lecrae leading the movement, it's becoming more and more difficult to do that.
Listening to "Rehab", it's virtually indistinguishable, quality wise, from any album from a handful of popular artists. Some of the songs, I could definitely hear an artist like Drake singing on, and one particular song, "Divine Intervention" actually sounds like it could be a Drake song.
The future of Christian hip hop music is here, and Lecrae is at the forefront ready to embrace all the stragglers who haven't made the cross over.
What are you waiting for?
STANDOUT TRACKS: Killa, Divine Intervention, Used To Do It To