"no more youth group music" - A review by k. hall
"We must attack the enemy’s line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent" - C.S. Lewis
It was November 2012. I stood at the Tabernacle in Atlanta surrounded by teenage boys jumping on my back dancing badly and yelling "Jesus" at the top of their lungs. This wasn't my first Lecrae concert, but at that moment, I said to myself, it would be my last. As a man that was fast approaching 30 I felt like I had out grown Lecrae. His music was what I call "Youth Group" music. Here I was having real life grown up issues. Here I was, a Christian black man dealing with the pressures of this world and all I'm hearing from him is the same recycled songs that all Christian Hip Hop artist were doing, a catchy hook with trap beats talking about a very basic view of God. I wanted to hear music that speaks to where I'm at in life.
I heard the secular view on the issues I was facing but never the Christian view on it. As time has gone on Lecrae has started to step away from doing Youth Group music. Many in Christian Hip Hop have jumped on Rapzilla comment sections and Lecrae's every social media post screaming that he isn't a Christian because he isn't doing that type of music anymore. Lecrae, on multiple occasions, has laid out his mission. Frankly, there were a lot of artist doing Youth Group music. Lecrae had a heart for people outside of the four walls of church. Though his Jesus Rap was able to reach some outside of church, the overall majority of people outside of the church had no desire to hear "Rebel" Lecrae. I argue that Youth Group music also limited his creativity.
This brings me to Church Clothes Vol 3. Church clothes starts off with Freedom feat N'dambi, which frankly is a jarring opener for a Lecrae album. It becomes clear that Lecrae has a grasp on the injustices taking place in our fallen world and isn't going to skate around it but take them head on. Following Freedom is Gangland which in many ways took a lot of guts for Lecrae to release. Christian Hip hop and Lecrae's fan base is a majority of white males. This song speaks right to the history of black gangs and how frankly their history is directly tied to the racial issues of the past. Propaganda comes in and further hammers the nail in pointing out that many white Christians care more about unborn babies than the black people losing their lives. Deja Vu is next, and once again, Lecrae is taking on the world's problems head on and proclaiming that through it all, the Lord is still there. At this point Lecrae is 3 for 3 with the songs.
Next up is Sidelines where Lecrae paints the picture of the hard work he put in to reach his level of success. Over the last few albums, slowly, Lecrae has started to reveal who Lecrae the man is. Which brings us to Cruising. This song takes you into a day in the life of Lecrae. It almost feels like Lecrae's version of Ice Cube's Today Was a Good day. The next track is "It is what it is". In this song Lecrae addresses the different opinions of the fans and critics and gives a verbal "Kanye shrug" to everyone and points out he is still selling out the venues. So, for every critic, there are people who respect what he does. Next up is "Can't do You" featuring E-40. I must admit I was concerned when the song started. It sounded like we were going to get a knock off DJ Mustard beat, and in some ways, that's exactly what it was though Black Knight, being one of the best up and coming producers, does put a nice spin on the track. This song isn't great, and honestly is one of the weaker songs on the album. Lecrae has made it a habit to at least include one song dedicated to his wife and the song "Forever" is the one on this album. It's a dope song that I find myself humming to myself throughout the day.
Misconceptions 3 is extremely dope. I'm going to nerd out for a minute but the track is hard, and perfect for what they do. There is no hook on this song but the beat switches enough to keep you interested as John Givez, J.Givens, Jackie Perry and Lecrae go in. John Givez gets creative with his flow and it sounds great but when you stop and listen, he really didn't say anything. Can we finally admit that J.Givens is on the verge of becoming an absolute beast? Jackie Perry is doing a great job transitioning from being a poet to a rapper. At times she sounded a lot like Rhapsody without the lisp. Lecrae shows that he is getting better as a rapper. This is by far a standout track on this album.
Next up is the song "I Wouldn't Know". Honestly I liked this song better when Future did it. This is a clear and embarrassing rip off of Future's style, all the way from Gawvi clearly trying to be Metro Boomin with the production to Elhae on the hook and KB on verse 2 doing both of their best Future impersonations. Honestly this album really could have done without this song, but I'm sure it will go over well with a lot of Lecrae's core fan base.
Church Clothes 3 is by far my favorite project from Lecrae and honestly in my opinion his best album to date. Lecrae albums have always had good production. Clearly Lecrae and his team have a good ear for tracks. This album, at times, feels a bit dark for a Lecrae album but it takes social issues head on. I feel like, on this album, Lecrae has done what C.S. Lewis suggested that the world needs. Instead of giving us another Christian Hip Hop album, Lecrae has given us a hip hop album from a Christian. We get Christian views on Social issues, love, dealing with criticism, and plenty more.
If you want youth group music, skip this album. If you want a very solid hip hop album, then I highly suggest picking this album up. I give it a 4 stars out of 5.
About The Author
Kevin Hall is a father of two, son to one, and a friend to many. He is a native of Camden New Jersey but currently resides in Atlanta, GA. Kevin is a producer for 620 Music Group and self-described music connoisseur. @khall620