(AllHipHop Features) Many artists step into the music industry with hopes of leaving a lasting impression by collecting accolades like golden trophies and chart toppers. Holding hardware on stage at an award show or seeing a project hit #1 can be seen as reaching the pinnacle of the business.
Lecrae Moore’s music career already consists of those very kudos. With 2014’s Anomaly, the Houston-bred rapper became the first act to hit number one on the Gospel Albums and Billboard 200 charts simultaneously.
A year earlier, Gravity earned Lecrae a Grammy for Best Gospel Album, and he later took home another Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. The co-founder of Reach Records has proven he can be both a commercial and critical force.
For his next LP, Lecrae has expressed he’s done trying to prove his creative worth or where he belongs on the genre spectrum. Listeners often ask: Is it Gospel? Is it Hip Hop? Is it both? Lecrae does not seem to be concerned about the answers to those questions. He’s just looking to make relatable music.
The latest example of his mission came in the form of “Blessings” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and it appears Lecrae has again been successful in the goal of creating widely accessible music. The lyric video for “Blessings” quickly collected 1 million plays on YouTube. Plus, a Twitter search of #Blessings along with #Lecrae yields countless messages of appreciation for the uplifting tune.
I connected with Lecrae to discuss his new single. We also chatted about his forthcoming 8th studio album, Chance The Rapper’s faith-filled moment at the 2017 Grammy Awards, working with Soul singer Lalah Hathaway, and more.
[ALSO READ: A Conversation With Bas On His Generation Taking A Stand, Donald Trump’s Travel Ban & Putting In His 10,000 Hours]
AllHipHop: You’ve always provided uplifting content whether it’s in your music or on social media. But I’m sure a lot of people are appreciative of this particular record right now. What has been the response for “Blessings”?
Lecrae: It’s been one hundred percent positive. People have been rocking with it and are grateful for this type of music in this season. It’s been so much depressing news broadcast over the last year. So people are appreciative of this. It’s just something to say it’s not all bad all the time. Plus, people love the song. Outside of the content, they love the sound of it and the feel of it. I’m really grateful for people loving it.
AllHipHop: It was produced by Apluss.
Lecrae: Yeah, Apluss from Ear Drummers.
AllHipHop: Did you guys do any other tracks together? Or did you work with anyone else from that camp?
Lecrae: We worked on quite a few tracks. I’ve been in there with Apluss. I’ve been in there with Ear Drummers, Metro [Boomin], Zaytoven. Just living in Atlanta, you have access to a lot of different people, so you’re able to get it in. So we’ve been really working and making some great music.
AllHipHop: You released a lyric video. Are there any plans to do a live action version with Ty?
Lecrae: Me and Ty shot the video not too long ago, out in LA. The video ought to be popping up at the end of the month or early next month. Calmatic directed it. He killed it on Kendrick and Jhené Aiko. He’s a beast with it. The video is going to be a movie. It’s awesome. I think the video compliments the song.
AllHipHop: I saw you posted a clip on Instagram where you were revealing the cover art to your mom. We got to experience that with you. But for you, what was that moment like?
Lecrae: It was dope. It’s something special, especially for my mom. You have to realize she never imagined any of this. Her biggest fear was that I was going to spend my life in the penitentiary. It’s a lot of men in my family that didn’t make it. It was either drugs or jail.
For her, all of this is – no cliché or pun intended – it’s all a blessing to see this happening. For me highlighting her raising me and putting her on there, it made her feel like she’s part of something that’s bigger. The best thing you can do is to show love to somebody and let them know how much you appreciate their investment.
AllHipHop: You also put up clips featuring 2Pac, Lauryn Hill, KD, Steph Curry, and Allen Iverson. In another interview, you said part of the reason you did that was to show the song could be relatable to a wide range of people.
Lecrae: Absolutely, that’s all my music.
AllHipHop: Do you think the greater public has become more open to your music as compared to when you first started? I know you don’t really like being called a “Christian rapper,” but there’s definitely a faith-based approach to it.
Lecrae: I know it does because people curse me out in the street all the time with praise. When somebody curses you out with praise… you know you’re connecting with people from different backgrounds and different perspectives.
I’ve seen a dude leaning against the wall in LA. He was enjoying his legal product. As I walked by him, he was like, “Lecrae, what’s up man? I’m listening to you right now.” That’s when you know you’re not in a box, you’re all over the place.
Similarly, with the clips I posted, everybody needs to hear that they matter, that they have a purpose, that they have worth, life is not drab, and it don’t have to be over. That’s just my role in music. I don’t mind being the person to give you some hope and paint that picture for you.
AllHipHop: For some people, they would see what you just said and realize they might not be able to handle that burden. Sometimes having to put out that positive energy all the time can be draining. How do you balance that?
Lecrae: Yeah. Part of it is just going through stuff. It’s like, “I got scars too, and if I survived then I got a story to tell you.” Then the other part of it is that I do concerts everywhere.
I did a prison tour. I’ll never forget. I was at a prison in Angola in Louisiana. I met a dude on death row. He made me a necklace. I still got it til this day. When I met him, I had this somber perspective like, “I feel bad for him.”
But when I got in there, he was all smiles. He was like, “This is dope getting to meet you.” I said, “Bro, you’re on death row.” He was like, “It’s all good. I’m going to be with God. I’m chilling. My family writes me. I’m just grateful for this day and them letting me do this.” He was just so appreciative of these little things.
I said, “If this dude can smile, I don’t got no excuse.” It’s that type of stuff that keeps me on the up-and-up and say, “Keep your head up, man. Keep focus. It’s people out here in way worse situations. They’re able to smile and make it through, so let me try to encourage somebody else.”
AllHipHop: Did you happen to see Chance The Rapper’s Grammy acceptance speech?
Lecrae: Yeah, I did. I’m all for him. I know people have mixed perspectives on it. But artists are some of the most marginalized people in the world. People don’t think that. Athletes and artists are really marginalized, because in people’s minds you’ve “made it,” so you can withstand all the criticism and scrutiny. But they’re just people.
He’s a young dude articulating his perspective on life and faith. Just because he’s on that big stage doesn’t mean he has it all figured out. But let him have his moment. Let him be excited. Let him share his joy, his faith. He’s figuring it out.
In ten years, he’s going to be 33, and he’ll still have a lot of learning to do at 33. You got to give people space and room to grow. I always say – and I’m not calling him a one-year-old – but just in general, when you see a one-year-old take his first step and then they fall, you don’t say, “Man, that was wack. Look at you falling.” You say, “That was dope. You took a step. Take another one. Take another one. Take another one.”
I think that’s how we should be with people. Let them learn how to walk. Let them learn how to fall, get up, and walk further than they did the first time. And cheer them on instead of always criticizing them and wondering about how authentic they are.
AllHipHop: You’re working on an album. How has that process been so far?
Lecrae: I’m finally in a place as an artist where I’m very, very comfortable in my own skin. I came up under Hip Hop. I mean like the classic Hip Hop. My cousins were older than me, so they cared about lyricism and the authenticity of it. That’s how they raised me to appreciate Hip Hop music.
So I went from being this kid who wanted to prove I can battle anybody and destroy them to coming into my own, as far as faith is concerned and trying to prove to people I really was serious about my faith to trying to prove to the Hip Hop community that even though I’m serious about my faith, I do this, to trying to prove to the faith community that just because I’m doing songs with Big K.R.I.T. or B.o.B. doesn’t mean I’m insecure about my faith.
Now I’m like, “I’m done.” I’m just comfortable in my skin. I’m making music. If you rock with me, come on, let’s go. If you don’t, it’s alright. It’s a million other artists out there. But I believe in what I’m doing and I’m going to keep killing it.
AllHipHop: You did a new song with Lalah Hathaway. You’ve worked together before. What is it like working with her?
Lecrae: She’s like a big sister. She’s smart, witty, funny. She’s a phenomenal artist. She has so many layers to her. For me, it was like brother-sister stuff. I wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s try to figure out a song.” It was like, “You got an idea? Let’s do it.” She wanted to put something out on that tip of encouraging people. I was like, “I’m with it. Let’s do it.”
Plus, my mom is a big Lalah fan. She was a fan of her father [Donny Hathaway]. My mom met her, and I feel like my mom was always trying to make something happen – “Do something with Lalah. Where’s Lalah? What’s going on?” So of course, it was a no-brainer.
AllHipHop: Mom was working as an A&R, huh?
Lecrae: Yeah, big time. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What else do you have in the works?
Lecrae: The album. That’s really what I’m focused on. Letting “Blessings” gain some steam and then come with the album. The album is full of great music. It’s socially conscious stuff on there. It’s stuff for Sunday night, stuff for Saturday night. Every night of the week – we got music for you. Some stuff will challenge you. Some stuff will just make you have a good time. It’s all good music. That’s what’s on the way.
[ALSO READ: A Conversation With Joe Budden On ‘Rage & The Machine’ Album, Being Inspired By Public Enemy & Modern Hip Hop]
Stream Anomaly via Spotify below.