It’s hard to go a day without plugging in our headphones and jam out to pass time. It has become our addiction without us even realizing it. Our heart drops just from reaching into our pocket and grasping nothing but air as we realize we left our headphones at home. Music is what gets us in a zone, changes our mood, gets us into our emotions, and makes a dragging day go by faster. It’s our go-to for instant satisfaction. With all of us feeding our minds with lyrics and melodies, what is it that this music is actually doing to us?
In an informal poll of West Ottawa students, nearly all said they listen to music every day. More than half listen to rap/hip-hop, which almost all students said gives a negative outlook consisting of sex, drugs, and violence. Also more than half admit to the musical lyrics having an influence on their thoughts and actions. A new hit song, “Rockstar” by Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, has reached #1 on the Billboard 200. In this song’s 3 minutes and 38 seconds, it referred to violence 7 times, sex 10 times, and drugs 15 times.
“I’ve been f****** h*** and popping pillies
Man, I feel just like a rockstar
All my brothers got that gas (weed)
And they always be smoking like a Rasta
F****** with me, call up on a Uzi
And show up, name them the shottas” (people that commit the crime)
It seems to the majority of us a good song must consist of negative lyrics and an inappropriate outlook. Constantly hearing violence and negativity shifts our brain to think and cause us to act in a certain manner. The American Music Therapy Association conducted a survey and split patients that were about to go into surgery into two groups. One group took anti-anxiety pills and the other group listened to relaxing music. After the study was finished, researchers found that patients who listened to music pre-surgery were far less stressed than those who took the anti-anxiety pill. This shows just how impactful music can be to our minds. If relaxing music affects our mood more than a prescription drug, what does violent, negative music do to the brain? Besides, nearly 60% of students here at West Ottawa admit to the music and lyrics affecting the way they think and act throughout their day.
It’s understandable to want to listen to the high energy, hype music everyone else is listening to, but other options exist. Right now, our generation is leaning towards the sounds of Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert, while others go more with Chicago rappers such as G Herbo and Lil Bibby. Atlanta is also a popular location for rappers including Migos and 21 Savage who both have a heavy influence on today’s sounds. Each of these artists portrays the same negative outlook, but there are alternative artists who are able to create the same sound as these big name stars but give off a much more positive view on life.
Lecrae is a Christian rapper who has taken over the rap game with his own style. His wide vocal range and metaphorical lyrics take him to the top of the charts. Many of us hear Christian rapper and automatically tune out, but this is an artist to definitely consider. He is not a typical rapper, but rather a smooth mix between rap and R&B. Some songs come in strong with different flows and beats, and other songs are slow, deep, and touching with lyrics that will reach out on a personal level. His music embodies all the hype available from the new-age rapper today, along with versatility in his vocal range and lyric many do not have. Lyrics that consist of never losing hope and always keeping faith through everyday struggles. In the song “Blessing” featuring Ty Dolla $ign the song says:
“I was doin’ all kinda bad
Where the choir at? Tell ’em I need a verse
Hit the pew and tell God He’s first
Hit the studio to body a verse”
This connects with the audience by explaining that he too went through the struggle and took a wrong turn in life, but still looked to God to help him stabilize himself and turned to the music to take him away from all his sinful life.
Lecrae grew up in Houston, Texas with his single mother. He has a drug addict father he had never met. It was a long time before Lecrae became a Christian and up until then, his life consisted of a lot of downhill decisions. Although going to church every Sunday with his grandmother, it didn’t affect him to the point where he wanted to follow the path to God. Instead, he turned to crime, women, drugs. In his thrill-seeking lifestyle, he adopted the name ‘Crazy Crae’ by some of his peers. It wasn’t until a point in his life where he had hit rock bottom that he decided to make a change. Struggling financially, personally, and in his relationships, he could see his life was going nowhere. Invited to a Bible study with his friends, also where he met his future wife, he declared in his last act of hope that Christianity was something he wanted to be a part of. He gave it one last shot. Deciding to cut the negative actions out of his life that brought him to where he was, he devoted himself to follow the words of God, returning to church each Sunday and putting his past self behind him.
His first breakout album “Rebel” made history as it put him as the first hip-hop artist ever to produce an album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200, where it remained for 2 consecutive weeks. He now has 12 total studio albums with his latest release September 22, 2017, with “All Things Work Together,” an album filled with angelic vocals alongside meaningful rapping of how even when life doesn’t work perfectly, eventually, all things work together.
He has become very successful in his rapping career, yet many of us still do not know of him. How is that? When we think of music, not many think of his style. This is the exact reason that it brought him up so big. When an artist is the same sound as so many other artists in the same genre, it’s hard to come up on top; the competition is so much greater. Lecrae taking his own path, a path with such smaller competition, he was able to outwork and outperform all other Christian rappers. It’s like this, you can race 1000 people to get $100 if you win, or you can race 10 people for $50. Although his style did not appeal to all musical listeners, his fan base was strong and loyal, and the key reason he has made it to where he is today.
When asked to listen to a few songs from “All Things Work Together”, West Ottawa students were pleased with his music and said they would listen to them again. A few key songs mentioned were “Blessing feat. Ty Dolla $ign”, “Broke”, “Watchu Mean”, and “Cry For You”. Sr. Madison Senesaynho, claimed “This is actually really good. I expected it to be boring since it was a Christian rapper but this isn’t bad.” She asked the name of the album to be repeated, so she could download it to her phone.
Lecrae isn’t the typical rapper. He doesn’t follow the same style and flow as so many other top artists today. Facing failure after failure in his life, he was able to overcome the odds and make something of himself through Christ. Without the right surroundings and love he got from his family and friends, he would have never made it to where he is today. This is a prime example of how when all hope is lost it’s never over.
If you are ever lost, struggling to make it through the day, or just in need of hope to get through the conflicts going on in your life, Lecrae is the artist you need to listen to. Or even if you are just looking to jam out with some friends and have a good time, his music will surely brighten the mood while at the same time hyping everyone’s energy. Lecrae is the full package when it comes to music and seldom disappoints. So take some time out your day, step away from the crowd and what everyone else listens to, and give him a shot.