Lecrae | Skyway Theatre | Friday, October 24
Lecrae is what we call a Christian rapper. A supremely successful Christian rapper.
His album, Anomaly, recently reached the top spot on the Billboard charts. That's right, the same Billboard 200 chart that Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna eviscerate every time they release an album. And he did so by selling more first-week copies (88,000) than mainstream star Big Sean's latest album, Hall of Fame, which only sold 72,000.[jump]
Walk into a room -- no, no, no. Walk on stage at the BET Hip Hop Awards and ask the rappers in attendance if they consider themselves Christians. A staggering amount will undoubtedly raise their hands. Kanye West has made it clear that he is in fact Christian, but would not be considered a Christian rapper.
Lecrae got the adjective plunked in front of his occupation and prospered. That's because his songs aren't pedantic, nor is the word of God being shoved down the listener's throat. His subject matter is not all "lilies and flowers, and everything is great," as he puts it.
Before he gave his life to God, Lecrae Moore was born in Houston, Texas, in 1979 and spent his childhood bouncing between there, San Diego, Denver, and Dallas.
"I hated it. It was a different environment for me. I had no friends. I was always getting in trouble, stealing and just rebelling. I was raised to admire dudes who were gangsters and I admired the thugs, because to me that was the essence of masculinity," Lecrae says.
During his adolescence Lecrae dabbled in some general mischief, of varying degrees of seriousness: stealing, selling weed.
"What Tupac represented to me was true masculinity and he was just a young 24-year-old dude who was confused, but I didn't know that," he says. "To me it was about being tough, [misogyny], I lusted for guns. I wanted one badly. For what? I don't know. It was just about mischief."
Lecrae pauses, considering his words, and then adds a revealing caveat. "I was never a killer, never running into a party shooting at people trying to be a thug," he insists. "Faith was always the final frontier."[page]
At 19, he made a commitment to follow Jesus, but it wasn't for another four years, when he was 23, that he got serious about it.
As a young adult, Lecrae initially studied theater on a full ride scholarship at the University of North Texas. The Tupac influence runs deep. Since UNT is a lauded music school, the culture quickly took a toll on his motivation. He'd skip classes and go to the music lab and work on music, which prompted him to leave briefly to study at a college in Tennessee.
Upon his return to UNT, Lecrae earned a degree with a double minor in sociology and electronic media. Since he graduated from college in 2003, Lecrae has released seven studio albums and won a Grammy last year. He's never used that degree. It all comes back to music, and not specifically Christian music.
"[That genre is] not my ambition. I really don't want to be a poster boy for that. I'm unashamed of what I believe in, but at the same time, I just make music," he says.
He talks about multiple facts of life, some of which are dark. A particular stand-out on Anomaly, is a song about coercing an old girlfriend into getting an abortion, called "Good, Bad, Ugly."
"That's not worship that you hear on Sunday," he says. He has a song about how our perceptions of life differ in America called "Welcome to America." There's also a track about the black experience called "Muddy Water."
"People see things as sacred or secular, I'm just creating music."
Lecrae. With Andy Mineo, DJ Promote. 6 p.m., Friday, October 24 at Skyway Theatre. Tickets.
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