Sounds like … street-smart hip-hop in the vein of T.I. and Young Jeezy, plus the Christ-centered raps of the Cross Movement, Da' T.R.U.T.H., and Phanatik.At a glance … Lecrae's Rebel has everything going for it to position it as one of the best rap albums of 2008.Track ListingRebel IntroDon't Waste Your LifeGo HardIdentityIndwelling SinBreathin' to DeathTruthDesperateChangeFall BackLive FreeGot PaperI'm a SaintThe BrideBeautiful Feet

Lecrae has come a long way. It seems like yesterday that we named him one of the most promising independent artists of 2004, and today he's the biggest Christian rapper, period. In an impressive, record-breaking feat, his third major release, Rebel, shot to the top of Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart, where it stayed for three weeks—amazing for a cat that didn't know a thing about faith-based hip-hop until college.

It's not without reason that Lecrae is making a lot of noise. In a way, his newfound success could very well be a byproduct of his unwavering ministry focus. Through ReachLife, the rapper and his cohorts strive to teach urban-minded youth about the truths of the Gospel, spurring them to a life of discipleship via articles, resources, and of course, music.

Rebel is the latest step in a hip-hop ascent that has been all but stratospheric, but don't expect the vertiginous rise to get to Lecrae's head. "Lord, kill me if I don't preach the Gospel," he raps in the crunkfest "Go Hard," a straight-talk thesis statement that exhorts believers not to conform to the ways of the world—to revolt against the things that aren't of Christ.

This insurrectionist attitude is accompanied by some of the dopest sound beds Christian rap has heard in 2008. Channeling recent Kanye West and John Legend, Lecrae offers up the excellent "Identity," a smooth-riding banger featuring cameos by fellow soldiers Da' T.R.U.T.H. and J.R. From there, the emcee does a little bit of everything, with a special emphasis on the hard-hitting East Coast stylings his friends in the Cross Movement are known for, noticeable in tracks like "Don't Waste Your Life" and "Truth."

Most admirable, though, is Lecrae's straight-talk approach when it comes to matters of faith. There's a marked sense of urgency in the lyrics—an earnestness that could only come from a heart whose chief motivation is to preach Christ and him crucified. That message is the utmost sign of rebellion, one that Rebel makes clear with unflinching tenacity.

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