On May 10, 2012 Lecrae, The President of Reach Records and Leader of the 116 Movement, released his first mixtape. With a title like “Church Clothes” and a prevalent host like the infamous DJ Don Cannon, the anticipation was heavy across the hip-hop world and church world alike. Questions lingered in the air as to whether Lecrae would be breaking away from his Christian background and embracing the secular world. And debates sprung up across discussion forums in the secular and religious world as to the merit and morals of this release. It was safe to say that Lecrae had stirred the pot with news of the release. Then, the music video for the title track to the mixtape “Church Clothes” was released and the cyclone of controversy gained strength.
As I sit listening to the mixtape now, I can confidently say that Lecrae has not disappointed either side of the spectrum. With lyricism, substance, and swagger Lecrae unleashes a barrage of social issues, truths, and challenges to the culture of hip hop. All the while he maintains a biblical worldview, and manages to incorporate the gospel message without alienating the hip-hop culture. As a fan of hip-hop I am both impressed and relieved for the fresh wind in the midst of stale air. As a Christian I am overwhelmed with joy that the truth is being preached without being “preached”, if such a thing is possible.
DJ Don Cannon does a great job as the host of this tape. We hear just enough of him to keep us motivated and excited about this new sound to the game. He isn’t all over the place like some DJ’s are, yelling over every track, and he does surprisingly well with his humble and profanity-free voice overs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the DJ of Choice for several upcoming tapes by artists who are well outside of his norm. Can we say Lupe and Cannon?
The production on Church Clothes has a well-balanced mixture of hard core, up tempo beats and melodic synths and Tantalizing chords. Great sounds from the likes of Street Symphony, and Wit with tracks like Cold World and Inspiration respectively. Also we see Boi 1da make a classic show of things with the notable track ‘Gimme a Second’ on which Lecrae discusses his motives and methods and dispels a lot of misconceived notions about him.
When it comes to features, we see No Malice (formerly Malice of The Clipse) put on for his newfound faith. The sweet sounds of Tasha Catour, the lyricism of Tedashi and Andy Mineo (reach records artists), Swoope and Suzzy Rock (High Society Collective members). Propaganda shows out, and Odd Thomas (Humble Beast) are just a few of the features that cover this mixtape. Strange as it seems the amount of features don’t dilute the quality of what is being considered Lecrae’s debut into the secular rap arena.
Amidst all of the great points about Church Clothes are some drawbacks and negatives, but only a few. Lecrae has what many will consider a downfall as an artist, He only has one message. But even with his overall topic being the same, he handles it well and covers a wide range of concepts and subject matter. Other than that, hip-hop fans will be somewhat bothered that Lecrae isn’t spending time tearing down the system and criticizing the government for their failure to live up to someone’s standard somewhere. Put those two issues to rest and Church Clothes becomes an excellently executed project.
The mixtape is free, so my recommendation is to download it and share it. Lecrae’s intentions with this mixtape were to introduce himself to those who may not as of yet have heard of him. Hope you enjoy it. If you’ve already listened to the tape, or are going to listen to the tape, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about it.
For the Download of the mixtape go to http://www.datpiff.com/Lecrae-Church-Clothes-mixtape.348497.html