3 Important Lyrics from Church Clothes 2
Several weeks ago, Christian Hip Hop’s most visible, accomplished artist released a sequel to his 2012 mixtape release Church Clothes. Featuring a litany of producers and controversial mainstream features, CC1 was the most downloaded CHH project of all time and one of its most influential. Beyond the consumer success of downloads and other acclaim, this collection of art was seen as his grand entrance into the mainstream of music. The response from Christians was mixed at best. While most were excited to hear new music, many were wary of his philosophical shift and expansion in regards to “secular” art. After his Grammy-winning studio album Gravity, CC2 was deemed the most appropriate new dish for Crae to bring to the table. After a few favorable listens, here are 3 sets of lyrics that stood out to me. These weren’t necessarily the best or most impressive bars on the album, but they were certainly some of the most meaningful:
“What would it take to make you believe?/More fire from the sky, another partin’ the sea?/The honest truth is you ain’t got the power to see, but let me take you on this journey; it all started with me/”
The chorus from the song “Believe” is much more aggressive and theologically deep than what first hits the earlobes. Here, Lecrae is challenging the unbeliever to consider the true reasons why belief in Christ is being rejected. He’s presenting the case for all that God has done, specifically in his own personal narrative. Jesus tells us explicitly in Matthew 12:39 that “an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign”, which perfectly characterizes much of the perception of modern Christianity. Cash, clothes and cars have replaced deep devotion, and Lecrae is having none of it here. Notice also his (not so) subtle nod to human being’s inability to come to the faith on their own accord. Spurgeon would be proud.
“No happy family cuz daddy left me deep in this valley/Of the shadow of death/I’m feeling the breath of a predator on my neck/Ate me alive while daddy was gettin’ high”
In my opinion, CC1 made me appreciate Lecrae as an artist, but CC2 has helped me understand him better as a man. This heart-breaking admission from his verse on “Was it Worth It?” (which is also briefly covered in the sequentially previous song “Round of Applause”) sent a shiver down my spine. Fatherlessness has become somewhat of a social cliche, the “Yea yea, we know” of the urban community. But these lines hit me differently than most. It was as if Lecrae chose to bear his wounds so that we could see just how deep the scars are, and how glorious God’s grace is. Rather than a statistic, he’s now a spokesperson for the Spirit.
“But I swear the moves that I made/I was tryna work out my faith/I been wrong before, but where I’m bout to go/They won’t put it all in my face”
Lecrae was especially bold on this project. He took some obvious (dare we say “Pauline-esque”) swipes back at critics who’ve had choice words for the nuances of his theological direction. This line from “If I Die Tonight” was a haymaker shot to our twitter tendencies. We all know social media is a double-edged sword, and the “grace meter” is on E when we’re not the recipients. But it’s fair to say Lecrae has received shocking amounts of both obsession and hate. He shouldn’t be our idol or our punching bag, something that he reminds us of. I was forced to ask myself how heaven views my insult-hurling, which was a sobering consideration to say the least.
These lyrics stood out to me, but they’re far from the only ones worth mentioning. Sound off, what lines stood out to you?
Download the CC2 mixtape for free here or support the movement with your purchase.
Here’s my comment on Facebook, which is closely related:
“Just got home from the movies where I saw 12 Years a Slave. It’s a great movie, but it had a noticeable and intentional lack of closure.
It was the first time I truly felt sorrow on a personal level for my ancestors the slaves. On the bus home, I sat and asked where was God in all of that. I’m no fool. I saw the minor victories here and there. But I still asked that question because of the many people who were born in slavery and died only knowing that existence.
As I was riding the bus, I skipped through so many songs because they were just too cheery, until I settled on Lecrae’s “Devil in Disguise”. And I noticed his verse: “I believe if God is real He became a man… To understand what it’s like to be me.”
I was reminded that Jesus has suffered too and His story was beset with trouble from the start. I remembered that God did not hide from suffering but endured it too.
That realization made me (in my mind) slap my chest repeatedly and say “Mad respect, Jesus. Mad respect.” He truly is God with us. That includes the harsh times.”