“You’re hearing my life in 2016, play-by-play, and I went into some dark places,” Lecrae reflected when I asked him about his new album All Things Work Together during our conversation earlier this month. “I went into some very revealing things. Things that people will probably be shocked to hear me say that I experienced, but I became a better person through it, so I had to talk about it. That’s the whole idea of the album, All Things Work Together, is that the dark times work together for me to become the person that I am today. You need all those elements to create something good. People’s jaws will drop when they hear it.”
Balancing a burning social consciousness with disarming authenticity, Lecrae’s highly anticipated eighth studio album—his first for Columbia Records—delivers an electrifying jolt to the senses and expresses the genuine human emotion that’s sorely lacking in today’s formulaic world of hip-hop.
The razor-sharp “Facts” denounces media lies and societal hypocrisies such as Lecrae’s reputation (“He’s divisive, he don’t rep the King, he just want the fame”), rock music’s origins (“Chuck Berry made it, but the credit went to Elvis”), and political leanings (“They say ‘Jesus was Conservative,’ tell ‘em ‘That’s a lie,’ / No, He’s not a Liberal either if you think I’m choosing sides”), among others. “Broke” addresses how a poverty-stricken upbringing builds character, quickly followed by the Ty Dolla Sign-guested “Blessings” emphasizing humility and gratitude regardless of one’s financial status.
True to its title, “Hammertime” tests the strength of speaker systems courtesy of Metro Boomin’s skull-rattling production. The hard-hitting ode to individuality, featuring Atlanta native 1K Phew, finds Lecrae miraculously showing today’s mumble rappers that hip-hop is a wordsmith’s game and it’s possible for Auto-Tune to be an interesting artistic tool. Album highlight “Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)” would feel right at home on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 opus To Pimp a Butterfly (“But the truth is I started to doubt God / I started to question my purpose / I started to act out / I ain’t wanna sign another autograph or give a fake smile / doctors told me that my man died / I almost had a breakdown”). It’s possibly the most gut-wrenching song Lecrae has ever penned, and its resonance only strikes deeper with those who’ve come to grips with the pressures and anxieties that weigh all of us down.
The third single “I’ll Find You,” featuring powerhouse vocalist Tori Kelly, concentrates on maintaining a sense of hope through life’s many obstacles with knob-twiddlers DJ Frank E (B.o.B’s “Airplanes”) and Danny Majic (David Guetta’s “Lift Me Up”) at the helm. “Worth It” ends All Things Work Together with a sweet breeze of hopeful optimism cutting through the murk of our dark and violent world. A pep talk from Pastor Tony Evans near the 4:04 mark reminds us that adversity doesn’t define us, it merely strengthens us while we’re feeling our way through the seemingly endless mazes that life presents.
By turns gritty, intense, and transcendent, All Things Work Together captures the social, political, and religious undertones of today’s America. It encompasses all the peaks and valleys the Reach Records mogul experienced in 2016 and forces the listener to confront unsettling realities we’re exposed to every day. Complementary to what came before while pressing forward artistically, All Things Work Together is unquestionably Lecrae’s sharpest and most sophisticated effort to date.
Notable Tracks: “Broke” | “Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)” | “Facts” | “Hammertime” | “I’ll Find You
SEE Lecrae on tour | Dates