Catching up with Lecrae

t’s been a busy year and a half for Lecrae, who exploded onto the national radar when his 2014 album Anomaly debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart-the first Christian rap record to do so. Since then, he’s released a memoir, Unashamed, received an honorary doctorate from Canada Christian College, dropped a mixtape, Church Clothes 3, and last month signed a major-label deal in the middle of his still-going The Higher Learning tour.

When he first started out, though, he was fighting his own demons and defining what it means to be an unashamed follower of Christ, reflected in early singles like “Take Me As I Am,” “Release Date” and “Nuthin’.” Now, he says, he’s grown into the authentic man of God the world sees today, following examples as selfless as Martin Luther King Jr. and as prolific as James Baldwin, with a Russell Simmons-esque penchant to giving back while building an empire.

“I am an artist who loves to express himself, and obviously my faith is a huge foundational part of me,” Lecrae says. “It’s going to bleed out into my music and I like to challenge the status quo and challenge the system. You know, the powers that be, in a fearless but beneficial way. So, that’s what I’ve been trying to do with music, with writing or anything that I’m allowed to be involved in.”

Lecrae’s approach to Christian hip-hop has wide appeal. Through his music, he shows youth how to live boldly for the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, and his fans have witnessed his music being transformed to reach Christians and non-Christians alike.

“As I got older, I never imagined this,” Lecrae says. “It’s been an incredible year alone, to have the number one rap album, we got a book that’s already soaring in terms of sales, I got an honorary doctorate this year. Those are the things that I’m extremely proud of, but again there’s no bragging on my own self, it just really has to do with God using a broken person to do the unthinkable. Your identity is grounded in what he can do versus what everyone else says. The sky’s the limit.”

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With The Higher Learning tour, Lecrae also has a higher purpose.

Higher Learning-the concept was to come to colleges and schools around the country to provoke thought and to provoke people into thinking about more than just making a living. College will teach you how to make a living, but not how to make a life. So, it brings some social and political awareness, spiritual awareness, mental and emotional awareness to the campus.”

He says that while on tour, he experiences temptations and battles just like anyone else: lust, envy, pride, greed. He says he has found that the key to overcoming these temptations is to keep a strong team around you that shares the same goals, mindset and faith.

“You have to have an identity grounded and focused on who you were created to be and not who everyone else wants you to be,” Lecrae says. “If you don’t have a sense of identity, purpose, worth and meaning, you’ll prostitute yourself for whatever this world throws at you.”

Currently, he’s also working on yet-to-be-released TV and film projects, recently finished a TED Talk centered around hip-hop and is putting the finishing touches on a new album.

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