Restoration is the tenth studio album by the grammy-award winning artist Lecrae, one of the staple images of the Christian Hip-Hop scene. When Lecrae first started off, his goal was simple: evangelize through his music as much as possible. From releasing his third studio album, Rebel, which focused on turning away from sexual immorality and worldly pleasures, to releasing Man Up with 116, a group he founded that focused on “Biblical Manhood” by offering guidance on how to be the kind of man God created us to be. As Lecrae began achieving more and more success, however, he also began to accumulate a lot of criticisms. From touching upon issues such as race in his album, All Thing Work Together, and partnering with Zaytoven to create his trap-heavy Let the Trap Say Amen album in 2018, it seemed as if Lecrae was beginning to lose a lot of his core fan base, who criticized him for losing his vision. This was most apparent in his first week-sale numbers, which were 29,227 and 11,000, where as Anomaly, his seventh album, sold 88,000 copies, as well as becoming the only artist to debut at #1 on both the Billboard 200 and Gospel Albums charts.
Restoration, however, feels like a return to formula for Lecrae. As I stated, his earlier pieces of work featured a heavy emphasis on his Christian beliefs, and his praise for God was apparent, often taking a central focus. As he grew, he focused on trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience, as well as trying to be a social justice advocate. Lecrae acknowledges and addresses the topic in the very first song, Restore me, in which he raps “I spoke up about these problems that I saw outside/People turned they back on me, you woulda swore I died”.
Throughout the album, Lecrae touches upon many topics, such as his struggles with temptation, his loss of faith, and how he tried to fill the void he felt inside of him with things that we hold to a significant value in this world, such as money, jewelry, and status. However, he realized that he was straying from the path he believed God set him on, and he brings us along his journey of how God helped him restore his faith. Despite the criticisms he got for addressing previous racially-unjust incidences, he does not hold back on addressing the recent killings of Ahmaud Aubrey and Geroge Floyd, by paying homage to them on Deep End.
Criticisms I found myself identifying throughout the course of this album was how it seemed as if Lecrae was holding himself back from elaborating on certain topics. Lecrae addresses his loss of faith, infidelity, and even molestation, but he never delves much deeper. Another problem is that both Over The Top and Keep Going, two songs with trap-heavy production, feels very out of place in this album, which has a much more laidback pop-esque style.
In conclusion, Restoration is a great album by Lecrae. Aside from a couple of out-of-place tracks, the album hits the vibe it was going for very well. While it may not be his best album, it is arguably his most personal. Lecrae touches upon different temptations that he struggled with in the past years, and returns to the formula that has always worked well from him. If you are a fan of Lecrae’s earliest music, or a fan of pop-rap, then this album is perfect for you.
Best Songs: Wheels Up (feat. Marc E. Bassy), Self Discovery, Deep End, Saturday Night (feat. Jozzy), Still (feat. DaniLeigh), Only Human (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid) & Nothing Left To Hide (feat. Gwen Bunn)
Worst Songs: Over The Top & Keep Going