The Gospel Guru Interviews Lecrae
Hip hop heavyweight Lecrae has quickly moved to the forefront of Christian Hip Hop and has become a household name. The Houston, Texas native has made a tremendous impact not only in Christian Hop Hop, but in music period. His most recent commercial release “Rehab” debuted at No. 1 on the Hip-Hop and Christian Hip-Hop chart, and has sold over 100,00 units to date.
This month the Hip Hop general released his first mixtape titled “Church Clothes,” which was released on May 10 and was hosted by DJ Don Cannon. The mixtape was downloaded more than 100,000 times in less than 48 hours on DatPiff.com. Some kind of amazing!
The Gospel Guru caught up with the MC for a very candid interview to discuss his new mixtape, future plans, his forthcoming LP “Gravity,” and more! Welp, without further ado get into my interview with one of Christian Hip Hop’s leading men Lecrae, below.
TGG: Man, I’m loving the mixtape! Whose idea was it for you to do a mixtape?
Lecrae: It was my idea, I think I’ve always wanted to..One, do some music that traditionally I wouldn’t put on an album. And to, man I’ve just always been evangelistic and missional in nature so I just wanted to do something that was dedicated to a world that wouldn’t otherwise go out and buy my music.
TGG: Ok. Man, you’re really touching some touchy subjects on the mixtape. What a bold move, what has the response been like?
Lecrae: Hahaha. You know I tried to give some warnings early on to a lot of my Christian followers that It really wasn’t targeted at the church so they would be able to understand. I wanted to wrestle with some things that I know people outside of the church wrestle through. When It comes to the church I just want to edify. But it’s been good, you know – it’s been good for every inquiry or kinda wrestle with the mixtape they’ve said wow it’s really impactful.
TGG: What was your inspiration for the concept of the mixtape?
Lecrae: Um well one is …because, I know specifically me being somebody who has had most of my experiences within the black church you know that’s cultural… you gotta put on your church clothes when you got to church…and it’s nothing wrong with that– that’s absolutely fine! But I think what’s happening to a new generation (the hip hop generation) there’s astigmatism, a feeling that I’m unwelcome. Or If I don’t put on airs or if I don’t dress the appropriate way I’m not welcomed at church. I think that carries over to their feelings about God, that If I don’t put on airs I’m not welcomed about him either. You know the bible says it’s by grace that you’re saved it’s not by dressing up that you’re saved. So I just wanted people to know it’s not about putting on airs, it’s about being honest and transparent and saying “God here’s my junk, can you help me?”
TGG: Wow. So with you being one of Christian Hip Hop’s leading men, did you have any apprehensions about touching some of the topics on “Church Clothes?”
Lecrae: Yea. I think if you’re in it for the fame and money (no one is ever gonna admit that) but if you’re in it for the fame and money, if you just want a comfortable life, the awards, and pats on the back then you play it safe. Because playing it safe will give you consistency, but if you’re really in this to see peoples lives transform then you’re gonna have to do some risk assessment– it is costly to rally try to impact people. When I moved into one of the worst inner-cities in America to do missionary work I had to do risk assessment, and It was a risk. My family could have been in danger, house could get robbed at any minute but I count it all as nothing compared to knowing Jesus it was all worth it at the end of the day.
TGG: So, what would you say was your most memorable experience in the making of “Church Clothes?”
Lecrae: I would probably say man, it’s been so many non-Christians that have touched it in some kind of way whether it was engineering, production, or something! Man, just to see the look on their faces and the questions that were raised, that does it for me every time. Not just them appreciating the quality of the music, but them saying “Man, I’ve never really thought about this. I really appreciate what you’re doing.” THAT is priceless to me!
TGG: Ok. So with you being a Christian Hip Hop artist and crossing so many boundaries, at the end of the day what would you like for your legacy to be?
Lecrae: I want people to know that Lecrae the person is a Christian. Just because you put a tag on me or my music that doesn’t make me or the music more or less of a Christian. Just because you say “Oh, Lecrae is a Christian” that doesn’t make me a Christian. And just because you say “his music is Christian” that doesn’t make it, me or my life represent Jesus. I’d hope the legacy that I’d leave that people say… No, he’s not a Christian because he said he was or because his stuff was labeled that. He’s a Christian because he lived it! And when you know him and you know his life this is someone whose life is marked by Jesus.
TGG: Your mixtape has been downloaded over 100,000 times. That is amazing! Did you expect it to be received so well, what were your expectations?
Lecrae: I really didn’t…I did not know. I prayed, I hope. i was honestly hoping for like 60,000, and that was lofty for us…just hoping and praying. God just has his own agenda, and he does what he wants to do wit stuff.
TGG: So the mixtape exceeded even your own expectations…hahaha.
Lecrae: Right. Absolutely.
TGG: So what was going through your mind when you first heard the mixtape was doing so well, and becoming a trending topic?
Lecrae: I typically try to occupy myself with doing something else at those times, because I don’t want it to cause any kind of anxiety or be too focus on those things. But my phone was blowing up so it was hard to ignore what was happing. I was really grateful, I put a lot of prayer and time into it. I was grateful.
TGG: I hear you’re working on a new LP “Gravity,” what can we expect from the forthcoming project?
Lecrae: Gravity. Definitely going to deal with a lot of weighty topics, hence the name “Gravity.” It’ll definitely be more polished than “Church Clothes,” it’ll probably be a little more music that everyone can relate to, bigger collaborations , and some more radio friendly music as well. For me, it’s a continuation of “Church Clothes,” but a more tactful and polished way of doing it..hahaha.
TGG: So what guest appearances can we look forward to on “Gravity?”
Lecrae: At this point in time it’s anybody’s guess. Obviously we would love to see some people from within the Gospel community, and obviously my label-mates and friends will be there. Hopefully some surprises from outside both of those communities, but I’m really open to that. I know right now specifically I’d love to work with some people with in the Gospel community just because I don’t think a lot of that is happening.
TGG: Well, what a perfect segway. Why do you feel that the Gospel, Christian Hip Hop, and CCM communities are so segregated?
Lecrae: Um, I think they’re just so vastly different in terms of the cultures. Obviously the class and Jesus is supposed to bring us all together. But I think they’re such strong distinct cultures that have problems, unspoken problems obviously, but problems with one another. On the hip hop side, it’s the problems of “awe man I don’t like the suits and ties,” and on the Gospel side it’s ” awe man they need to pull their pants up.” I just think those are minor, really small issues that we just need to get over and learn to help each other. We’re all on the same , and in the same boat.
TGG: Man, I’d love to see you collaborate with a Deitrick Haddon, J. Moss, or a Kiki Sheard…someone of that nature. That would be epic.
Lecrae: Yeah, Yeah. I agree. Tell ’em…LOL.
TGG: Hahaha..will do! So, do you feel that Christian Hip Hop is more accepted now than when you first hit the scene?
Lecrae: Yeah, definitely. Obviously the quality of the music is consistent. There was a point in time when maybe only a few artist put out quality music, so that alone was a hindrance. And there’s more infrastructure. Gospel and CCM have a lot of infrastructure…there’s a lot of gatekeepers, magazines, and websites..etc. So yeah.
TGG: Lets talk about your empire, Reach Records. It seems like every one of your artist that release an album make a nice debut and albums sell really well. Why do you feel that artists from your camp are received so well?
Lecrae: Um. Well, obviously the true but generic answer is favor from the Lord, it’s his grace that he’s allowing us to do that. I think one of the areas of favor and grace that he’s allowed us to see is internally he’s just given us a strong sense of work ethic and craftsmanship. We really do work hard to make GOOD quality music, and that’s just a label standard you know we’re going to try to put our best foot forward every time. I think the people appreciate good music, and that’s what’s being put out.
TGG: Reach Records is comprised of all male Christian rappers, in the future are you looking to extend your brand to encompass singers, female rappers..etc?
Lecrae: Absolutely, I think as some of those walls and barriers are torn down and there is more of a bridge built in those worlds I think it’ll be great. When it comes to singers, like urban singer outside of a Mary Mary, Canton Jones, and Mali Music there’s not too many artist that can handle what we would call an Christian R&B sound. It’s kind of a limited field as far as singers go. Just hoping that more artist like that can resonate and grow. In terms of female rappers, man hey come on! We’re here…come talk to us!
TGG: With “Church Clothes” just being released and you’re working on “Gravity,” what are your plans for the summer?
Lecrae: Man, i’m still working on “Gravity” obviously but more than anything just spending good quality time with my family. Obviously I’ve been traveling heavy this last year, and hold up making music and just getting good time with the family, and making sure I’m a well balanced individual. So imma try to have a normal summer as I possibly can…hahaha.
TGG: Lastly, with you being a successful Christian Hip Hop artist, how do you define or determine success?
Lecrae: Um. Well I think success can be looked at in many ways. Obviously you want whatever it is that your aiming for to be something that God will endorse. I think when you can draw a target and hit, then it’s successful. As long as that target that you’re trying to hit is something that God will endorse, and not just your own personal “I just wanna do this because it’s about me.” If you say this year I want to build a boat because I think God has given me a gift to do this and I want to use this for this..this..and the next, and you accomplish it then that’s success. For me, I want to change the way people see the world. That’s why I do what I do…with every email, text message, and every phone call that I get with people saying “Man what you’ve done God has used it to change me” that’s when I see success.
Be sure to check out Lecrae’s first mixtape “Church Clothes,” below.