by Aaron Earls
a·nom·a·ly (noun) – something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.
A Christian album debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 chart is definitely a deviation from what is standard, normal, or expected.
But, as rapper Lecrae has been saying in the weeks leading up to the release of Anomaly, “the system didn’t plan for this.”
Anomaly, his seventh album, sold an estimated 88,000 copies to become Lecrae’s first Billboard No. 1 album. That also placed him at the top of Billboard’s Gospel chart for the sixth time and Christian chart for the fifth time.
The Grammy-winning emcee became the first artist to top both the Gospel and Billboard 200 charts and the fifth to land a Christian album on top of the Billboard 200.
The only others were Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights (2013), TobyMac’s Eye on It (2012), LeAnne Rimes’ You Light Up My Life – Inspirational Songs (1997), and Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) (1997).
Anomaly had already claimed the top spot on iTunes last week, when it knocked off the latest from boy band One Direction. This week on Billboard, Lecrae took the perch from Maroon 5.
He promised supporters he would release a new song for free if Anomaly reached No. 1, which he did – dropping “Non-Fiction” at 1:16 p.m. EDT. (Download it here from Reach Records.)
While this is the first time Lecrae has reached the pinnacle of the Billboard 200, he is no stranger to the charts.
His last album, Gravity (2012), reached No. 3 overall and topped the Rap and Independent charts, along with winning a Grammy for Best Gospel Album.
But Anomaly has been Lecrae’s most commercially successful album and is his most personal. He told the Christian hip-hop website Rapzilla that Anomaly is his “favorite album because it’s my most secure, confident, just kind of understanding-who-I-am album.”
The confidence, authenticity, and musical quality on display with Anomaly has garnered notice from secular outlets like Billboard magazine, Essence, and MTV. It has also landed Lecrae on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Thursday, September 18.
Despite all the praise from outside the religious circles, it also could be argued Anomaly is Lecrae’s most Christian album. While previous albums saw Lecrae speak boldly about his faith, on Anomaly, he takes it a step further and demonstrates how to apply faith to some of life’s biggest issues.
Lecrae is no longer content to only speak about Christianity, he is seeking to speak through it. And right now, the world is listening.
- Eric Geiger interviews Lecrae on The Exchange
- Turning Tables: Flipping the Rap Conversation to the Gospel
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.