Editors' Notes “I feel like I've been able to take a couple of years and just process everything that's happened and be able to communicate from a sober, well-thought-out perspective,” Lecrae tells Apple Music. The result of that processing is Restoration, the confessional concept album he recorded over a decade and a half into his presence in the steadily intensifying spotlight. His technical and expressive skill as an MC, showcased in new performances that range from theatrical to intricate—along with his gripping, grounded way of measuring inner conviction and spiritual turmoil against external reality—has earned him respect across a rare combination of mainstream rap and Christian audiences. On his new, guest-fortified 14-track set, Lecrae puts therapeutic language to forceful use. “I'm able to take people on that journey from being in the middle of the chaos, standing outside of myself, finding healing and then affirming myself and other people that healing exists on the other side of it,” he says. “We got creative as the healing process happened.” Here the Texas artist goes through the trials and tribulations behind each track on Restoration.

Restore Me
“We had some sessions where I just brought up keywords that I was experiencing from being in this industry and how everything comes with a price—not just the industry, but my life in general. You don't realise that everything that you've amassed is all coming from a place of trauma. So every award you get, every significant thing that you've accomplished, in some ways it's you trying to affirm yourself because you didn't get the affirmation you needed in your childhood, in life. So when you have that moment of clarity, you're, ‘None of these things can take away the pain of losing somebody or of a near divorce or a clinical depression.’ So I just let people know it was bad bad, but there's hope on the other side.”

Set Me Free
“We're shackled to these status quos and these ideas of who we're supposed to be and how everything's supposed to work. You may be on a label and they have demands of you as far as your art is concerned. You're in a society that systemically oppresses you. It's just, ‘I am so tired of the walls around me and I'm on the verge of revolt.’ Even internally it's, ‘Yo, I do not have to be the most popular person on social media. I do not have to be the happy puppet all the time. I don't have to be the chart-topper all the time.’ YK Osiris, the reason why I chose [to feature] him was because he was very open in a video he put on social media where he talked about the perils of the industry and how people force you to be something other than yourself. It was just him wanting that freedom and me wanting the freedom for him as well.”

Wheels Up
“Coming off a radio tour and being all over the country, you're just constantly on. You meet people everywhere you go, and you don't even have time to think about what matters to you or how you're feeling. When I'm on a plane flying overseas and there's no Wi-Fi, then it's just me. I don't have to talk to nobody. I don't have to be on right now. I don't have any lights, camera, action. It's just me and I can just sit and reflect and think, and I feel like there's no pressure.”

Over the Top
“It's me saying, ‘I'm done trying to prove something to y'all. My health is more important to me. The legacy I leave is more important to me.’ If I win 38 Grammys and have 52 platinum plaques, there's still going to be hungry people in the street. It's almost like Hunger Games—somebody has got to be the Katniss Everdeen and say, ‘I'm not going to get caught up in this. There's still people out there who are struggling, and let me stand up for them.’”

Self Discovery
“When you've been playing a character so long, you lose sight of yourself. You don't even know who you are because you've been playing the character for so long. So ‘Self Discovery’ is almost like going back to my roots and realising, ‘Yo, I'm traumatised and I'm hurt. And this is what my family thinks. And this is where I come from.’ My cousins and my aunts, these are outtakes from the documentary, conversations that were being had.”

Deep End
“It was actually a song that was not initially going to be on the album. I wrote it right after the passing of George Floyd. I just needed to get it off my chest. The words just started coming out. I posted the song on my Instagram and people were like, ‘Man, we need this right now.’ That made me say, ‘This is something I need to actually go on the album.’ I just thank goodness for the independent label that I'm a part of that we were able to make that happen so quickly and can put that on the album.”

Drown
“As soon as John Legend heard it, he wanted it for himself. But we were like, ‘Nah, John, come on, man. Be a part of this one.’ He got on the song and it accomplishes the work of helping people, the pain and suffering that you could be experiencing in being authentic. But at the same time, it's a familiar sound that people can resonate with.”

Saturday Night
“It's the out-of-body experience I've had a million times, I mean, Grammy weekend, BET weekend, where you're at these parties. Are you trying to further your career by networking with people? Are you just trying to be as hedonistic as possible and have a good time and forget about your worries? Are you trying to look like you're connected to people you're not connected to, and hang out with the big names? Then you find yourself as one of these people that folks are trying to be close to, and people are mobbing you. And you're just kind of like, ‘Yo, what is this fishbowl that I'm inside of?’ It’s like we're repeating the same steps over and over again. What I realised personally is that when you don't feel spiritually alive, when you don't feel emotionally alive, all you have is your senses. So you're constantly trying to feed your senses.”

Sunday Morning
“My homegirl Blu is singing on the hook. We share similar sentiments about faith, and she jumped at the opportunity to just express herself on this particular song. And Kirk Franklin is like a big brother to me. We walk in similar worlds. We had been planning on working together for years, and I just always felt like, ‘Man, it has to be the right song and in the right moment.’”

Zombie
“It's comical in sound. It's fun. But it's such a serious topic. It's like, ‘I was like a zombie. I was just chasing after the money, the cars, the women, gold, girls and glory,’ like we always say. Then you have your spiritual awakening and you're like, ‘There's so much more to life than these things.’ So we wanted to make it upbeat. You reflecting on the past. It sounds like a breakthrough in therapy. Restoration is happening and you can celebrate that.”

Keep Going
“It's tapping back into the core of hip-hop. It's tapping back into that aggression and that fierce fire that I probably had back in 2011, when you're idealistic. Idealism meets cynicism. I'm leaving cynicism, but I'm also not idealistic. Now I'm realistic. And realism says, ‘Look, this is what the reality is, but all is not lost. You got to keep pushing.’ Restoration is not about reaching a destination. It's about owning the fact that this is a journey.”

Still
“What a lot of people don't realise is that we tend to think of our journeys and our healing processes as things that happened to us, but there's collateral damage done to other people. Specifically, my wife is that collateral damage. So you are acknowledging that your process and your journey has left shrapnel in other people. You being emotionally distant has created problems. You being gone all the time has created problems. And now your eyes are open for the first time and you're like, ‘Yo, you're still here.’ And then she's like, ‘Yes, I'm still rocking with you.’ And it's like, ‘You're even greater than I imagined. You’re still by my side through all of this hell and chaos.’”

Only Human
“That's a special song, because BJ [the Chicago Kid] and I spent some time on the road together. And he understands that plight of just trying to be who you know you're supposed to be, but still falling short. For every healthy two steps you take, you're bound to take one that's going to make you fall again. But you've got to give yourself some grace and not beat yourself up for being human and being imperfect.”

Nothing Left to Hide
“I've had the music, the production for years. I just knew it was special and I didn't want to waste it. There were eight different choruses for this song. Nobody could get it and capture the sentiment. And then Gwen [Bunn] came in and, one take, knocked it out. It's me baring my soul. It's me saying, ‘I'm not going to be famous enough for these people. I'm not going to be Christian enough for these people, and I don't have anything else to hide.’”

SONG
Restore Me
1
1:16
 
Set Me Free (feat. YK Osiris)
2
2:57
 
Wheels Up (feat. Marc E. Bassy)
3
4:03
 
Over the Top
4
3:11
 
Self Discovery
5
2:27
 
Deep End
6
2:40
 
Drown (feat. John Legend)
7
3:20
 
Saturday Night (feat. Jozzy)
8
2:07
 
Sunday Morning (feat. Kirk Franklin)
9
4:01
 
Zombie
10
2:31
 
Keep Going
11
2:27
 
Still (feat. DaniLeigh)
12
2:55
 
Only Human (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)
13
3:48
 
Nothing Left to Hide (feat. Gwen Bunn)
14
3:36
 

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