4 out of 5 Stars
Label: Reach Records
We’re all affected by gravity. We’re affected mostly in a positive way but should we trip, the consequences are negative: we fall because gravity pulls us down. Our spiritual lives, suggests Lecrae, are affected by a metaphorical gravity. Gravity is what makes us fall (a theme greatly present in the bible, particularly in Paul’s writings). Gravity is what pulls back to earth, even when we’ve set our minds on higher things and begun an ascent. The world is a sinful place and we are constantly tempted by it; its gravity pulls us away from God, back towards itself. Just like gravity it’s a natural law – our sinful nature constantly wants us to gravitate towards what is worldly.
Lecrae has the limelight. He is the Christian rapper of this generation. Arguably he has had the biggest platform yet of anyone in the genre: mainstream coverage courtesy of XXL magazine, BET Cyphers and album features to name a few. He has chosen to use his opportunity to present what he considers to be a serious issue – an issue with gravity: sin and salvation.
Kicking off with the epic-sounding ‘The Drop’ (complete with screaming guitar solo) the album sticks closely to concept from beginning to end. ‘Gravity’ featuring J.R. explains the metaphor plainly whilst ‘Walk with Me’ featuring Novel follows it up with the all-important, legalism-beating message that gravity cannot be conquered without Jesus. ‘Falling Down’ (featuring Swoope and Trip Lee) is a bass heavy, choral assault of a posse cut which begins to hint at the album’s glorious conclusion. The message of ‘Power Trip’ (featuring Pro, Sho Baraka and Andy Mineo) is an important one in the rap world: pride comes before a fall.
‘Tell The World’ and ‘Lucky Ones’ together form the album’s crescendo: it’s the realisation that what pulls us down is that which brought Jesus to earth – it’s the sin that constantly causes us to fall that Jesus came to die for. In case you were wondering about the title, Lecrae qualifies it himself (“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in grace, but they say we’re lucky cos we’ve seen His face”) whilst maintaining the incredulity that we should all experience when considering our election.
‘Higher’ (featuring Tenth Avenue North) is the album’s ‘worship’ track – quite a welcome addition actually as it guides the listener to reflect and be thankful within a less rowdy sonic environment before ‘Fuego’ (Spanish for fire) incites the listener to live life as a bright and strong witness of Christ’s love to the world.
The production is highly polished but not over-produced. It’s meaty and suitably weighty for the subject matter and the fact is that Gravity truly needed to stand up to mainstream, big-budget releases. The mixing and mastering is out of this world and it makes a massive difference – this is a supremely listenable project. Stylistically orchestral stabs and licks are married with the rhythms and beats of a range of modern Hip Hop styles – this is more than just southern-sounding Hip Hop – could it be called stadium rap?
Lyrically Lecrae is strong, stronger than he has been on his last two albums – the bar has been raised and he has stepped up to challenge. He raps with veracity and conviction and on the best tracks not a word is wasted. There are tracks which could possibly have been dispensed with (in my opinion ‘Buttons’ – a track about relationships and marriage which, whilst an example of how we sin, distracts from the concept and flow of the album) and there is some repetition of themes within the general gravity concept (to this end ‘Lord Have Mercy’ and ‘I Know’ could be considered superfluous).
Overall, this ‘Gravity’ lives up to all the hype. It is a hard hitting body of work, which, with the position Lecrae has found himself in, has the potential to truly reach those who do not yet know that they are a sinner in need of a Savior. It also will certainly edify the body as it contains many truths which we need to remind ourselves of daily. Sing with me now: “Lead me higher, lead me higher, and lift my eyes up… Oh lead me higher into Your fire, Burn away all other desires, and let my heart beat again”
Aidan Severs is a teacher by day. Rap fan by night. Husband of one. Father of two girls. Living in Yorkshire, UK and serving at South Craven Evangelical Church. Lover of fine food, German cars and Inline Skating. You should read his blog Beats, Rhyme, and Christ if you’re interested in hip hop and Christ.