Four and 1/2 out of Five stars
There’s a certain kind of uncle known to us all. He grows more comfortable in his senior status with every dispiriting news report. He has the blow-by-blow on when times were better for all concerned at every occasion (which is usually any era that is twenty years or more in the rearview mirror). It’s either Tom Joyner or Michael Baisden for his morning radio or nothing at all. Steve Harvey’s Kings of Comedy fashion sense still holds sway over his wardrobe. His music is the greatest hits of everything.
Uncle elder is the type of man that hasn’t bought or downloaded a new album in years and has fossilized into a sharp, brittle opinion of rap (it’s all garbage) and, though he dare not admit it, young people in general. And so he takes pleasure in riding with his nephew and demanding the nephew to let a song coming over the kid’s I-phone play out to prove his point. The energy of the song’s track has the programmed sonic restlessness germane to most rap on the radio, maybe a tad more. The vocal presence and edge of the rapper sounds poised, legitimate, ready to explode in a hail storm of expletives. The song is Lecrae’s “Welcome to America” from his new album Anomaly. (a·nom·a·ly – something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.)
The elder squints to focus on the lyrics (who knows how squinting helps hearing). He struggles to catch some sort of profanity, instead, he finds a topic not addressed as of late, even in his comfortable R&B station:
The elder grunts. Fluke. So he asks who the rapper is. The nephew answers. Intrigued and annoyed, the uncle dares him to play another Lecrae song (hell, what’s a Lecrae anyway?). Nephew cues up “Say I Won’t”. Uncle Elder gets excited at the way Lecrae starts in bending words and feeling his swag. Oh yes, this is what I’m talking about. He finds that, actually, it isn’t. Lecrae has pushed the love for old school hip hop, fiscal responsibility and the need to be his own man in a world of followers on track that couldn’t be more playful and brash. Nephew 2, Uncle 0.
Lecrae continues to surprise with the title track “Anomaly”, a likeminded call to individuality that brings out nod of respect from the uncle. And questions. Who is Lecrae? How come I’ve never heard of him? He discovers that the Houston-born and bred rapper has stuck to his guns in promoting monogamy, high ideals and faith in God. He learns that Lecrae has racked up a Grammy and successful albums while doing so. He asks again why he has never heard Lecrae on the radio. The nephew looks at him; man… you already know.
The uncle plays and replays songs like “Wish”, “All I Need is You”, “Dirty Waters”. None of them sound like the filler songs artists throw on the full up space around an album’s obvious hits. Uncle whispers, “he shouldn’t sound this good.” Sure, Lecrae is clearly committed to his message, it’s just that he doesn’t come with anything near the bland rapping uncle expects from such a category. No, Lecrae isn’t a Christian rapper, he is a rapper, a talented and passionate rapper, that happens to be a Christian. Uncle discovers that Anomaly is the number one album on the charts. “C’mon, uncle. You slippin’.” He chuckles at a red light, pats nephew on the shoulder, and turns into a Target to buy a copy. It hasn’t felt so good to be so wrong about these kids in a good while.
About Dr. William HobbsWilliam Hobbs (aka William Ashanti Hobbs, III) is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida by way of Atlanta, GA. While attending Florida A&M University (FAMU), the college junior was inspired to publish Pseudonymous, a collection of short stories and poems and the novel “The Chosen People: Africa’s Lost Tale of Meroe,” all in the same year. Sales allowed Hobbs to publish ” Unconditionally ” in 1996 as he graduated from FAMU. His passion for writing won him a McKnight Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue a masters and doctorate degree in creative writing from Florida State University (FSU).
Hobbs graduated from FSU in 2004 and now teaches Creative Writing at Florida Memorial University. Hobbs has published an essay and poem in Journey into a Brother’s Soul by Kimani Press. Hobbs is married to Dr. Tameka Hobbs and has two sons, Ashanti and Amiri. He has recently published an experimental novel entitled “North of the Grove.”
EM Music Review – Anomaly | Lecrae