Grammy-award winning Christian rapper Lecrae just dropped his 10th studio album called Restoration: 14 tracks of piano ballads, hip-hop beats and sonically diverse collaborations.
Restoration is a vulnerable, honest work that transparently confesses Lecrae’s transgressions. But the beauty here doesn’t just lie in that confession. It lies in each verse that’s crafted to reach out to fellow strugglers with broken hopes, in order that they, too, might know the only Savior who can make them whole again.
“Drown,” featuring John Legend, offers a hand helping hand to those who feel hopelessly submerged beneath life’s troubles, and the song makes it clear that salvation is found in God alone: “I’m hopin’/’Cause this is the only thing that keeps me sober.”
In “Restore Me,” Lecrae asks the Lord to take his pain and brokenness and make him whole: “Use all this pain, use all this hurt to grow me/If that’s what it takes to know what I’m worth/Restore me.”
In “Deep End” Lecrae speaks out against unjust murders of Black men and women: “The world gone mad, can’t ignore this noise/Look at these people found dead in the streets.”
Lecrae asks the Lord in “Set Me Free” to be released from the pitfalls of the music industry, along with the evils of society and the world. Similarly, in “Over the Top” Lecrae says that many believe that material possessions are the ultimate goal, but they don’t know that these things “don’t keep my soul intact.”
“Zombie” speaks to how we are “dead in sin” before we come to know the Lord, and how chasing after temporal things only causes pain in the end. Lecrae insists that the only hope for true joy and fulfillment is found in God: “I was like a zombie, ‘til I was awakened/Chasin’ all the Barbies, tryna get the bacon/Pull up in a new toy, feelin’ like a rudy boy/Always acting crazy but my heart felt like a chew toy.”
On “Wheels Up,” “Saturday Night” and “Sunday Morning” Lecrae says that although he was mentally and spiritually in “cruise control” for some time, God woke him up and he began “burying [his] face in Scripture” and making purposeful choices and changes.
Lecrae admits that he was wrestling with depression and suicidal thoughts on “Only Human” and “Self Discovery,” but he confesses that God restored him and gave him grace anew.
Lecrae apologizes to his wife for his disrespectful and dishonoring behavior and promises to stay faithful to her in “Still.”
Listeners are encouraged to keep choosing to follow God in “Keep Going.” And in “Nothing Left to Hide” Lecrae states: “You either choose love or you choose death/I choose to let the love of God drown me.”
Lecrae makes many references to past sins and mistakes in his songs, but each time it’s not for the purpose of glorifying them, but rather being honest and confessing as he reaches for God.
That being said, he does reference how his lust brought destruction, how fame was equivalent to a drug, how friends betrayed him and how he fell to drinking, smoking, violence and promiscuity when he didn’t know God and, still, to some when he lost sight of God. These are hard things, hard struggles. But Lecrae’s purpose is to teach and encourage, not to brag about bad behavior.
As an example, in “Sunday Morning,” featuring Kirk Franklin, Lecrae is honest as he admits, “I would party ’til days end/Makin’ money that I can’t spend/I had a failing marriage and some fake friends/ … Smokin’, sippin’, slippin’ …”
Lecrae also references the horrors he faced in his past, like being “molested, abused, abandoned … falsely accused” on “Restore Me.” Similarly, other songs reference how growing up without a father negatively influenced his life and mental state.
In “Deep End” Lecrae says “what the h,” excluding the world “h—” but still referring to it. The only other song that similarly flirts with profanity is “Deep End,” in which Lecrae says some critics of his desire for justice have said, “F you and what you believe in.”
“Still” suggestively references marital intimacy: “But now I really need you bad, mami/Lay you down in Puerto Rico in the beach off in the sand, mami.”
I’ve listened to every album Lecrae has put out, and this is one of his best. A confessional of past sins colliding directly with supernatural grace, this album reaches for God and holiness while forsaking everything else. And it does so honestly.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Lecrae said that his goal was to be transparent so that others could see his true humanity. Lecrae’s hope is that they would understand what spiritual restoration from the Father actually looks like:
“What’s crazy to me is that restoration is a perfect picture of love and grace. … So I tell my kids, ‘There’s nothing you can do to make me love you more or less.’ I want them to know that they can never go too far to where I’m like, ‘I don’t love that kid anymore.’ Or they don’t have to perform for me to where I’d be like, ‘Alright, I think I love them more now because they did this thing.’ God is more perfect than I am and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more or less. There’s no situation that we’re in that He’s not wanting to help us through.
Real and raw, Restoration is full of grace. But it also isn’t without a few notes for parents who might wonder what’s present for younger listeners. Lecrae openly mentions his past of drinking, smoking, promiscuity and violence. Twice he abbreviates profanities without actually saying them. The message of grace comes through loud and clear here, but Lecrae’s authentic struggles with sin in the past are plainly visible, too.
All in all, this is an emotionally mature work. It creates a beautiful space for listeners to embrace the truth that no matter what they’ve done, they will never be too far away to run into the arms of God.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).