Lecrae's "Outsiders" and Jay-Z's "Holy Grail": An Accidental Comparison

Warning: Jay-Z's music is very explicit. I do not endorse his music. This "accidental comparison" is a humbly offered cultural analysis comparing two songs with similar music but completely opposite worldviews.

I know I am two months behind the times, but last week I started listening to Christian rapper Lecrae's newest album Anomaly. As I listened to the first track, "Outsiders," I couldn't help but recognize the similarities between it and Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake's song, "Holy Grail."

The similarities include:

  • Both songs are the first tracks on their respective albums, which both debuted at No. 1 overall on the Billboard 200 chart
  • Both songs are in d minor and feature a prominent piano introduction
  • The intro for "Outsiders" is 1'05" which is just slightly shorter than the 1'19" intro for "Holy Grail"
  • After the opening singing section, the rapper enters
  • Both songs are essentially a declaration of identity in spite of criticism or hardship

The fact that the songs sound similar (listen to both if you want to see for yourself), AND have a similar theme is incredibly interesting. Jay-Z is rapping about his love/hate relationship with his fans, but how he is going to keep rapping despite all the negative things he has to face. I think he finds his identity grounded in his rap and his money. In Lecrae's rap, he talks about how living out his Christian faith, especially in the midst of the hip-hop industry, has caused him to become an "outsider." He would definitely assert that his identity is grounded in Christ.

I don't know how intentional the similarities were on Lecrae's part (because his song came second). However, I do know that he is very deliberate and thoughtful about his art. If you want to read more about his goal as a rapper, check out this insightful blog he wrote in 2012: http://reachrecords.com/blog/post/Church-Clothes-Purpose-Passion-Progression

I welcome any thoughts or discussion regarding this comparison. I may be completely off in claiming there are any similarities in the music and theme of the lyrics. However, I think that both men, like every human, deal with the struggle for identity. They fleshed out their individual struggles in these respective songs in similar, yet completely different ways.