At Rock the Bells in San Bernardino, while Juicy J was on one stage rapping about “Bandz will make her dance,” you had Lecrae rocking the stage across the grounds rapping about faith, love, and encouragement to a group of excited young people hanging on his every word. That’s no knock on Juicy J by the way, rather it’s just an example of Lecrae’s amazing accomplishment in bringing what’s considered “gospel rap” to the forefront and on the same levels of it’s more popular counter-parts, something that pioneering gospel rap groups like Soldiers For Christ and D.C. Talk set out to do long ago.
Personally, I’m happy to see something like this succeed. First off, Lord knows that there are people out there that need to hear a good positive message and secondly, Hip-Hop always thrives in diversity.
AllHipHop.com sat down with Lecrae before he took the stage at Rock the Bells to discuss this amazing feat and more. Oh, when the Saints go marching in!
AllHipHop.com: Let’s start off by giving the people out there an idea of what it is exactly that you do.
Lecrae: I do honest Hip-Hop. A lot of people don’t want to address issues in life, not to say that everything is so serious, but if I’m going to talk about then I’m going to talk about it. I remember a time in Hip-Hop when there artists talking about a variety of things, whether it was N.W.A. talking about Police brutality or Public Enemy talking about standing up or A Tribe Called Quest just being themselves. I was fortunate enough to have Uncles that grew up on all of their music, who put me on to all of their music. For me, I’m a part of that situation in just being honest about everything whether it’s faith, love, relationships, or whatever.
Christian rappers have been around since the late 80’s and I can remember a time where they weren’t seen on the same level as the mainstream secular artists. Here you are rocking the same venues and on the same cards. It’s really come that far.
Lecrae: This is no knock to any Christian that has ever done Hip-Hop before but I think a part of it as that I’m not a Christian trying to rap. I’m a Hip-Hop artist that’s part of the culture who loves Jesus – and that’s going to come out. It’s not about me trying to be like someone else or the Christian version of a certain artist. It’s me being the first me and doing what I love to do.
Do you get a lot of resistance in the Hip-Hop world for your faith?
Lecrae: What’s funny is that I probably get more resistance from Church people!
Why is that?
Lecrae: Because it’s probably harder for them to comprehend due to thinking within a box.
I see. They probably think that you are still a part of the “world” as they say in some Christian circles.
Lecrae: Exactly. I’ll be honest, I don’t get resistance when I’m at something like this (Rock the Bells). I actually get more respect that I’m standing out. People respect that I’m willing to be myself and come to grips that I love God and I don’t care.
Do you consider what you’re doing as a ministry?
Lecrae: The word ministry just means to serve. Anytime I make music, I think I’m serving people. If I’m working at In-N-Out Burgers, I’m serving people by feeding them. So yeah, I’m feeding people artistically, spiritually, socially, politically – absolutely.
Do people let you know that your words have touched and helped them?
Lecrae:Earlier today, I was at one of the Westfield Malls out in West Covina, CA and we were at a store shopping for my Rock the Bells performance. My boy was talking to one of the employees at the store and told him that I rapped and he asked to check out my music. Right then he starts searching for music at the store and he starts playing one of my songs as I was leaving. I’m walking down the Mall and soon enough he’s chasing me down and taps me on the shoulder. He told me that he had just listened to two songs and that what I said really touched him. As a matter of fact, he said it was the “Just Like You” song that rocked him and touched him in a special way. That kind of stuff right there is powerful. Why would you not want to create music where you can be honest and tell your story? It affects people’s lives.
Tell me about the GRAMMY award that you won.
Lecrae: I feel fortunate. In some sense, winning a GRAMMY is shocking. It just says to me that I should keep going instead of thinking that I made it. I see it as an incentive to keep making music. I don’t do it to be acknowledged but I’m appreciative of the acknowledgement. I’m going to keep going.
Out of all of the rappers out there, not a lot can say that they have a GRAMMY on the shelf.
Lecrae: Yeah, I know. There are some artists that I believe that should have one. Nas, in my opinion, should have one. I don’t make the rules in that situation. I just make music and let the chips fall where they may.
What’s next on your agenda?
Lecrae: Right now I’m working on Church Clothes Volume 2. Don Cannon hosted Volume 1 and we had over a half million downloads. We had production from 9th Wonder and Boi-1da. Church Clothes Volume 2 is coming and it’s crazy. I’ve got production once again from Boi-1da, and also David Banner. I’ve got features from people like Paul Wall and from my own camp a rapper named Derek Minor who is a ferocious animal on the microphone. I’m opening up doors for him to run through. After that, I’ll be working on my album.
As a person of faith, do you think you could ever be goaded in to a diss war with anybody?
Lecrae: (laughs) Maybe in fun but never something like I’m going to tear this person down. We play around on the tour bus and battle each other for fun. It will never be to tear someone down, maybe something along the lines of playing one on one Basketball on the court.
Have you ever been dissed?
Lecrae: I’m sure there have been some slick things said out there but nothing direct. I think more people respect what I do and the rest don’t even know who I am, so it’s cool (laughs). I’m not trying to get in to no beefs. People love drama and negativity and they feed off of that stuff – I prefer Chicken. That’s my thing.