Label: Reach Records
Release Date: 9/28/2010
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund
- Check In
- Divine Intervention (f. J.R.)
- Just Like You (f. J. Paul)
- Gotta Know (f. Benjah)
- Used To Do it Too (f. KB)
- Children of the Light (f. Sonny Sandoval and Dilavou)
- High (f. Sho Baraka and Suzy Rock)
- New Shalom (f. PRo)
- 40 Deep (f. Trip Lee and Tedashii)
- Walking on Water
- God Is Enough (f. Flame and Jai)
- Boasting (f. Anthony Evans)
- Background (f. C-Lite)
- New Reality (f. Chinua Hawk)
- Release Date (f. Chris Lee)
- I Love You (f. Chris Lee)
Until a few years ago, the Christian rap scene was almost entirely populated by two guys named Grits and a handful of white guys most people had never heard of. Today, Reach Records nurtures a growing community of lyrical believers bringing big beats and unflinching lyrics, and Lecrae has risen to the forefront of these trailblazers. His latest album hit #16 on the Billboard chart with possibly the best ever opening sales for a Christian rap album (Jesus Freak doesn’t count). It’s been a few months now since Lecrae checked us all into Rehab, so what are the results?
Lecrae trades the big beats and super-fast lyrical flow of Rebel for a greater variety of flavors. Loosely themed around drug abuse recovery as a metaphor for God’s redemption from all things destructive, Lecrae once again features a colorful array of rappers, singers, and background chatterers, but it’s across a more diverse musical landscape. The opening “Check In” confesses addictions and rolls into “Killa,” featuring a silky-smooth chorus (Baby this is innocent / It won’t even hurt a little bit) with a Proverbs-style admonition. “Divine Intervention” picks up the lyrical delivery a little bit, although it still feels fairly laid-back, and it further develops the metaphor in the classic, uncompromising Lecrae style:
Lust, pride, hate, death running through our blood
Need a blood donor, need a transfusion
He’s over hanging on the cross for your substitution
So in conclusion, only one solution
Trust divine intervention as your resolution
There are a handful of energetic beats on this album, mostly contained to the middle segment. Fans of the last album will like “Used To Do It Too,” (featuring those trendy, random “A” chants). The reggae-inspired, Sonny-featured “Children of the Light” is the most fun, and maybe the closest Lecrae has ever gotten to Matisyahu, but songs like “High” and “New Shalom” feel far weaker than the highlights of Rebel. I found their clicks, hits, and bangs to be more annoying than invigorating (though others will disagree). The female-led hooks of “Walking On Water” and “God Is Enough” pick things up a bit (if you can get past the oh-so-profound “God is enough-nuff / God is enough-nuff“).
But the album really shines on the chiller tracks. The hip-pop strings of “Background” are more sugary than a Leona Lewis single, but the auto-tuned chorus is so catchy – and the message of surrendering the spotlight so worthwhile – that it’s almost impossible not to like the song after a few listens. “Just Like You,” a reflective nod to influences in Lecrae’s life, uses some pensive strings and horns that reminded me of the soundtracks of the new Batman films. “Gotta Know,” with its shuffling drum set and piano call, sounds like an old Grits jam melded with modern strings and layerings. The album’s final segment is its strongest, treating us to track after track of relaxing grooves and righteous rhymes, from the throwback acoustic “Boasting” to the bonus “I Love You” (a committal shout-out to his wife).
Overall: Rehab is an album that grows with repeated listens, as you sink past the catchy rhythms and begin to recognize all the little layerings of vocals and percussion hits and other sounds while the challenging lyrics sink into your spirit. Lecrae’s unending calls of surrender to God’s will in exchange for all the trappings of the world would get old if I didn’t constantly need it.