Hip-hop star and dedicated Christian Lecrae is enjoying an exciting year after releasing his first mainstream mixtape titled Church Clothes and new album Gravity which is in stores Sept. 4. The Christian Post recently had the opportunity to speak with the rapper and found out what inspires him and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
Q: What are your goals with your new album Gravity, and what makes it different from the rest of your projects?
Lecrae: My goal with the album was to be consistent in terms of quality music. I know that my Christian fanbase typically has appreciated what I've done artistically over a period of time. I just really wanted to make good art, and talk about issues I think everyone can relate to and hopefully provide some different solutions, hope and inspiration. [I wanted to] allow people to see that God has really given me … a whole different perspective.
Q: How did your collaboration with up and coming southern rapper Big K.R.I.T. come about?
A: We have mutual friends and it was relayed [to me] that he really respects what I do. As I listen to his [music], I could tell that that there's a spiritual undertone and maybe he was raised in a church environment.
I have conversations with [people] every day where there's people who have issues and questions and wrestle with the church and their views. I think a lot of times Christians don't have any non-Christian friends, or friends who have wrestled with church and so they forget about what it was like to be a non-believer and to wrestle with [these issues]. In talking to K.R.I.T. we were cool with him putting that wrestle on wax and me just kind of coming back and trying to help. It was like recording a conversation.
Q: Are there any other big collaborations in the works for you?
A: Every collaboration for me is something that I really think and pray through. There have been a lot of unique opportunities and if they're right, we'll do them.
Q: How did you come up with the name "Come Alive" for the 2012 Reach Records Unashamed Tour?
A: It's [based on] waking up to different areas of faith and how it affects our lives. One is just the initial coming alive, just becoming a Christian and coming alive to God and seeing him for who he is. Two, a lot of Christians come alive in terms of being saved and trying to live right, but they don't know how to come alive in their job, marriage and finances. They don't know what it means to come alive in relating to people. They just don't know how God affects every area of life. They know how it affects their faith and salvation, but they don't know how he affects every little other thing that they deal with. That's really the kind of idea behind it.
Q: How does it feel to have your music supported by hip-hop legends such as DJ Premier?
A: It's always dope to have people who are incredible at what they do appreciate what you do. In terms of validating me … I'm legitimate, it didn't do that. I'm very confident in who God has made me to be and as long as God accepts me I'm cool.
Q: Are we going to hear Lecrae rapping over any of DJ Premier's beats?
A: He put some out there, so hopefully the second go round we'll commit [to making a song together].
Q: Do you think it is alright for Christians to listen to secular hip-hop?
A: Maybe for some and not for others. I don't think it's a sin [for everyone who listens]. It may be a sin for some and not for others. I know for those of us who are critical listeners, and we can listen to [music] without being washed over, than we may just appreciate the art. [It's like as if] I was having a conversation with a non-believer. I can have a conversation with a non-believer and I'm not offended if they cuss every five minutes. It doesn't wash over me and make me all of a sudden want to start cussing, but to others it might, and I would say if that's an issue for you I would say don't [listen].
Q: Why do you think Christian rap is perceived as being corny by believers and non-believers?
A: There's no infrastructure in terms of industry. So because there's no infrastructure, there's no gatekeepers, and without gatekeepers everything comes through the pipes. There's no quality control, and so anything and everything makes it onto the websites and radio shows. There's just no quality control outside of the DJ and the site post.
[You can] hear a dope artist like Swoope right next to some kid who's in his bedroom who's never done music ever and he just decides today he wants to start doing songs. And now all of a sudden his song pops up on a website as well. When people get a whiff or hold of that it's like man, this is whack- I think we tolerate it because we're so concerned with message. [Christians] think that as long as the message is good the music can suffer, and I think that's a gross misunderstanding because God definitely is a master artist and it honors him when we take our craft seriously.
Lecrae's new album Gravity is now available in stores and on iTunes.
Check out Part II of The Christian Post interview with Lecrae, who reveals his top five favorite rappers and speaks on Jay-Z and the Illuminati.