I am picky when it comes to music. The last full album I purchased was Hans Zimmer's extraordinary Man of Steel: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, but that was in summer 2013. So, it's been a minute.
Then I heard that Christian rapper Lecrae was number #1 on Billboard last week--a fact I could not fathom. I knew of LeCrae, and I had a few of his singles--I got love for "Background" and "Hands High"--but even with Christian rappers, I get singles, not albums.
But I wanted to see what cause the fuss, and I listened to the album preview on iTunes. The 90-second glimpses were hit and miss, but I added a few songs to my wishlist. I later discovered that Reach Records' Youtube Page has lyric videos for each song, allowing a person to legally sample the entire album if they chose. And I did.
Within two passes, I was sold.
Listening to an album in full is a far different experience then listening to 90-second previews on iTunes, and LeCrae's Anomaly is a quick listen. Clicking in at 58 minutes, the 15-Track album feels like a "greatest influences" record of the last ten years. "Nuthin" sounds like one of Kanye West's earlier, more successful anthems with a lost beat from Bad Boy Records; and contrastingly, "Outsiders" echoes the feel of Kanye's artistically successful yet altogether dismissed 808's and Heartbreaks. "Messengers" has Nelly's flow all over it , and is one of the best exit tracks I've heard in some time. The hypnotic "Timepiece" almost seems like a beat that Busta would have used once upon a time, and "All I Need is You" feels like it could find its way onto any of the Now That's What I Call Music records sometime next year (and could have been on any Now album since the turn of the millenium).
Several songs, including the aforementioned "Messengers", get mad reply from me thanks to their guests. Females specificially lift the vocal landscape of the album, with Kobi Jobe on "Broken", Crystal Nicole on "Give in", and an uncredited female on the clincher track for me to make the purchase, "Good, Bad, Ugly".
While these songs are a great for the ears, the real treasure on the album is the well-developed and often uplifting the lyrics. In as much as LeCrae does not shy from the harsher aspects of life, he provides anthems for the outsiders, the misunderstood, and the persecuted. Though "Fear" and "Wish" were not my choice cuts during my previewing stage, both have come to mean a great deal to me after repeat listenings; and make no mistake, this jaunt has been on repeat all week.
I purchased the album on deluxe digital direct from Reach records for $13.99, and the few extra bucks got me Acapella and Instrumental tracks, both of which were worth it. You can also go through Amazon, as always!