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 reached the number one spot on iTunes this week. The Christian Post recently had the opportunity to speak with him and found out what other rappers inspire him and what he thinks about the secret society known as the Illuminati.
Q: How do you feel about Christian hip-hop's presence on mainstream radio?
Lecrae: Radio is the same any way you look at it. It caters to an audience and until there's a demand for [Christian hip-hop] they are going to try to make money. Right now, Christian radio caters to 30-45-year-old moms. That's the music that's being made and that's the way things are being structured. Until that changes, that's going to be what we hear on the radio. They don't play my music on the radio, but I don't think that excuses us from being proactive and starting radio shows and doing internet stuff and finding new creative ways to do stuff instead of depending on the established things that are already there.
Q: Do you think some churches are still having issues with accepting Christian Hip-Hop?
A: I'm sure there are, but I think times are changing. Hip-hop … is over 40 years old and so when you have a change in power, when you have pastors who are 40, they've grown up knowing about hip-hop so it's not as strange to them, whereas if you have a 55-60-year-old person, they've grown-up and hip-hop was never a part of their life … they don't see how it can be beneficial. They just see all the negativity and so it really doesn't resonate with them.
I think [we are starting to see] a new wave of younger pastors, and leaders [that are] seeing that [hip-hop] can be legitimately used. They're also exposed to artists like myself and Andy Mineos and they're are saying these are trustworthy guys and I think [these rappers] are some people we can use [to further the Kingdom of God].
Q: Would you categorize yourself as a Christian rapper, or a rapper that's a Christian?
A: I think they are both the same. … Am I a Christian? Yes. Am I a rapper? Yes. So by that definition I guess I'm a Christian rapper. But, if we are talking about a genre, than I don't want my music to be thrown in that (Christian Rap) genre. The only reason why is because I don't want non-believers to feel like this music is not for them. So I think that [classification] kind of gives off the aura that this music is for Christians, that's why it's called Christian rap.
I want non-believers to feel that [my music] is for them. It's hip-hop, and yes it's good to the Christian, but I don't feel like this music is just for [them].
Q: Do you think that Reach Records is doing a good job at penetrating the culture?
A: There's always room to grow. I think I've seen some of this with myself. I think [for some artists] that's not their ambition and that's ok. If you say hey man I just want to make music for the church, that's not a crime, it's not wrong, it just may be where you feel like you've been called. Some people say "I want to be a pastor," some people say, "I want to be a business man," and [so] it's all about what you feel like you're wired to do.
I think that things like our "Man Up" reached outside of the Christian circle. [The] "Church Clothes" mixtape reached outside of the Christian circle. I think there's just different things that do well, and some things that we do that are received stronger by Christians.
Q: Who are your top five favorite emcees or hip-hop artists?
A: I would have to say Nas, Tupac, The Ambassador of The Cross Movement, Snoop Dogg. Not as a rapper, but just as an all round [businessman]- I'd say Jay-Z.
Q: It's interesting that you picked Jay-Z as one of your top five. What do you think about the rumors concerning him being involved in Satan worship and the Illuminati?
A: I don't know. I sympathize with him because I've been accused of a lot of things that are just ridiculous and so I can't imagine at his level, what's real and what's not. People accuse me of stuff and I'm just like where did you get that from? And I can only imagine that when you're at his level or his height, you're being accused of tons of stuff.
Some of it may be true. I don't know. I really can't tell. I don't even know what the Illuminati is, but somehow I'm a member. I'm like man if they're accusing me of this and it's so left field and ridiculous, I don't know if [the rumors] of Jay-Z [being involved] are legitimate or not.
Q: What advice would give to up and coming artists who are Christians that want to make it in the music industry?
A: I would say that you need to hone your craft. It's like playing a sport, you have to practice. Just because a couple of people say you're good doesn't mean you're going to the NBA, and just because a couple people say your songs are good doesn't mean that they're quality enough for you to really have a career.
And [I would also say] know your audience, know who really appreciates your music because if you don't you'll end up being frustrated. If you're a Christian and you're like "Man, I just love writing songs about scripture," do not get upset when non-believers don't listen. You cannot be frustrated by that. You've got to be content that your music is crafted to kind of shepherd and encourage the church and if you're making music that sounds like tunnel rap you can't be upset when the church is like this isn't deep enough for me. I don't hear enough Jesus in it. You just have to understand that's your audience. That's who resonates with your music.
Q: What's next for Lecrae?
A: Really just trying to steward the platform that I have, and I'm really passionate about being a father and a husband. That's kind of where I focus a lot of my time and energy. It's been great to see all this influence and impact happening, but if I can't do it at home then what's the point?
Lecrae's new album Gravity is currently available in stores and on iTunes.