LECRAE’s ANOMALY – GREY’s ANATOMY
*Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon from the flight deck. We are cruising at 37,000 feet. We just passed over the coast. We will be beginning our descent in about 30minutes, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to America*. The voice of the pilot, at the beginning of Lecrae’s ‘Welcome to America’ song suddenly makes you feel like a passenger on-board a flight to America. The song kick starts with the beating of African drums and women chanting in what sounds like an African language.
The chants of the women do not obstruct lecrae’s verse in any way. In the song, the rapper tells us three different stories of three different people and their experience of America. The first is definitely told by a black man in America who knows about his slave heritage; he knows there were slaves in his family a few generations ago. His story is the typical story of most black-Americans: the hustle for money and the struggle to validate one’s citizenship. The second story is told by an American soldier out there fighting for his country. He recounts the perilous episodes faced by American soldiers and also how much they are appreciated less by their own people. The third story is told by an immigrant who is making ends meet by doing menial jobs in America. Finally he says, ‘I couldn’t get approval from the state so they sent me away from America’ – apparently the immigration laws caught up with him. This is one of my favorite songs on the album because it is so open and addresses pertinent issues in the states that many do not talk about. Anybody who is musically inclined wouldn’t have a hard time concluding that it is a masterpiece. The Anomaly album is in itself an anomaly. How many times have we witnessed a rap album with Christian content get to number one on the billboard charts? This is actually the first time; we are grateful to God.
I honestly expected rebellious music when I first heard the title of the album before it dropped. I expected hard-hitting songs that took shots at particular characters in the music industry. It turns out to be something different. Although there is a little element of rebellion in there, but it is a positive movement. It is an urge to want to be different and live like you are supposed to live and not what the culture dictates. I start playing the first song and I am not introduced to the militant rapper, dressed in full army regalia that I expected to meet. But I am introduced to a man: a former patient at the hospital: someone who has been sick before and has received treatment and is telling me how I need to go through the same treatment he went through – obviously because, it did him a lot of good. That is extremely comforting; the fact that a man who suffered the same things I have suffered and still suffer is pointing me to the source of his recovery. And though he seems to have recovered from some of the ‘medical complications’, he seems to be totally aware of the new conditions he might have contracted after the recovery. And guess what, that is the main reason he decides to live his life perpetually in the hospital he first received treatment for the previous diseases. It is funny how many people (including me) keep pointing out his faults. It’s like we keep diagnosing him, meanwhile he is in the doctor’s waiting room, holding the diagnosis in his hands. He already knows what he is sick of. How on earth do we even try to diagnose another doctor’s patient (though we are not even doctors)? Paul puts it this way in Romans 14, ‘How dare you judge another man’s servant?’. Sometimes we can see his faults because we are looking at him through the lenses of a microscope meanwhile our faults are probably visible through the lenses of binoculars.
The song ‘Broken’, pretty much encapsulates what I have spoken about in the paragraph above. Lecrae announces at the beginning, ‘We’re all broken’; seeming to draw our attention to the fact that we are never qualified to be used by God at all. We are never deserving of his grace or anything he gives; he graciously bestows all of it on us. I like the way some Christians put it, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called’. Meaning God calls you before he gradually works on you to be worthy to even be called by Him in the first place. It is confusing, but what about God isn’t confusing? Lecrae addresses a very important issue in the lives of most of us when he says:
‘We fell off the wall of purity doing that humpty dance/ forget the king’s horses, forget the king’s men. The KING is coming to put us back together again.’
What a beautiful use of allegory to put your message across. Here, Lecrae deals with the issue of sexual immorality by weaving the message over the story of ‘Humpty Dumpty’. When he says ‘Humpty dance’, he is referring to sexual immorality. And we all know what happened to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ when he fell off the wall – the king and his men couldn’t do anything about it. But here, Lecrae assures us that though we may have fallen off the wall of purity, the KING we serve is coming to put us back together again. That is very comforting. Especially for those of us who know how often we fall off that wall. The KING we serve doesn’t stand at a distance and watch us put ourselves back together, He actually offers us assistance. This is the part of the gospel that really baffles me.
In the song ‘Good, Bad, Ugly’, the rapper welcomes us into his life with special emphasis on his past. He talks about how he was living a promiscuous lifestyle even after he was saved. In the process, he had to convince his pregnant girlfriend to have an abortion. All this he did after being saved. In the second verse he narrates a very interesting story of how he was molested as a child by a baby-sitter. According to him, he believes this was the root of sexual immorality in him that caused him to live that kind of life in his teens and early 20s. This also raises a topic I haven’t ever seen pop up in gender discussions: molestation of young boys. Nobody really cares if you are molested as a male. Well of course guys do not have physical scars of these ordeals but does anybody care about the scars these experiences leave in the soul? Anyway, I was very concerned about the sequence of the narration of the stories. I expected the second verse to rather come first. But I guess he wanted us to know of the effects of a bad seed sown in the life of a child before he told us of the cause.
Time will permit me to tell you all about every single song on the album, but space won’t allow me. But if you haven’t already, please grab the album and give it a listen. Do listen to ‘Runners’, it is one of my personal favorites. It largely talks about how married men need to be careful how they relate with other women in order not to be involved in extra-marital affairs. ‘Outsiders’, ‘Nuthin’ and ‘Say I won’t’ are songs that tell us to be different and stand out. These songs actually reiterate the idea the album title suggests: Anomaly. In ‘Outsiders’ the rapper says ‘they’re laughing at us – yeh we know/ we may be at the bottom/ But we are not forgotten/ the DIRECTOR is plotting that sequel’. All I can say is, this is the story of my life *sighs*. All in all, it is an amazing journey through the mind and life of such a great artist.