12. Lecrae, 'Anomaly'
Chart-topping rapper Lecrae built his fanbase independently, releasing six albums on his own Reach Records, a label that spreads a Christian message. He's set to be the first rapper from the devotional circuit to find a pop audience, and has caught the attention of mainstream rap like none other before. While several songs celebrate his love of Christ, Anomaly is a record about principles. On "Outsiders," he casts his religiousness in a secular society as pure freedom "to be what I'm supposed to be" and criticizes America as a place "where we'll do anything for the money." He warns against the dangers of promiscuous sex on "Runners," employs fast-rap deftness on "Timepiece" to explain his rejection of fame for personal benefit, and even flips a bounce style over a trap rhythm on the practice-what-you-preach anthem "Dirty Water." M.R.