Lecrae has always been an artist who does not like boxes, and those who attempt to categorize him into one would be hard-pressed to try. Bringing the gospel to hip-hop long before Chance came to the scene, Lecrae’s ability to maneuver between disparate, non-interacting circles served as both his greatest strength and weakness. Being a two-time Grammy Award winner and having performed on Jimmy Fallon and Sway in the Morning, he has achieved a level of success unseen by Christian artists. His diverse catalogue defies categorization and yet for all these pioneering advancements, it seemed that what he gained came at the cost of personal piety. Beginning in 2012 with Church Clothes, its subsequent sequels and his chart-topping 2014 LP Anomaly, he introduced listeners to a more socially-minded Lecrae; the bona-fide rapper was still spitting fierce rhymes, but in his razor-sharp criticism of social injustice he seemed to have lost the vibrancy and passion of articulating his faith, which was a staple of his earlier works.
So far Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, the duo that comprises the EDM group The Chainsmokers, are the masters of creating yearly hits. In 2014, it was the group’s song “#Selfie” that garnered them recognition. Last year, “Roses” was warbled on dance floors and blasted in cars everywhere. It was a song that bonded people with diverse musical inclinations all through summer ending, the leaves changing and our waiting for the snow that never came. Perhaps “Don’t Let Me Down” is The Chainsmokers’ triumphant 2016 single.
The shtick that has turned Future into one of hip hop’s biggest superstars casts him as a drug-addled club rat, drinking lean to numb the pain; this was more or less the premise of his last album, DS2, which was a huge critical and commercial success. The updated hipster take on Future is that he’s a doomed, lovelorn soul who turns his druggy misery into art like a sizzurp-sipping Cobain. This kind of revisionism is necessary in order to listen to such mindless music without irony, because Future’s songs are unbelievably repetitive and dreary. But in a recent interview with The Source, Future as much as admitted that his persona is a fabrication designed to sell records. “I’m not like super drugged out or [a] drug addict,” he said.
We love the story of a good Fall. Ever since the Garden of Eden, humans have lived in sin; and for as long as there have been sinners, others have relished the task of exposing them. It seems that few things fascinate us as much as a figure that rises to great heights and seems morally unimpeachable, and then is exposed as something else entirely. From Bill Clinton to Bill Cosby, our culture has a special appetite for those who claim to have high morals and are then exposed as ignoble imposters. Maybe this explains Future’s popularity.