Lecrae revealed that before he became a Billboard chart topping success, the contemporary Christian music market was the only one that gave him a chance.
In an interview with Forbes, the 37-year-old rapper who does not like to solely be identified as a Christian rapper revealed that he wasn't initially viewed as a gospel rapper. When Lecrae, born Lecrae Devaughn Moore, first started doing music independently with his friends, people questioned what he was doing since Christian hip-hop wasn't a popular genre.
"We were bastardized from every genre of music. No one was gospel or Christian," the rapper told Forbes. "It was like, 'What is this?' We are all rapping, hip-hop and just doing it outside of the industry for so long."
According to Lecrae, the only people who embraced him in the industry were the contemporary Christian musicians since they were used to seeing genre blending artists.
"The only people who initially said 'we'll touch them,' was the contemporary Christian market who'd already been through the Switchfoot and Relient K type of stuff, so it wasn't a big deal for them," he recalled. "We were like, 'Alright, cool. If you guys want to take this on tour, we'll go.'"
Lecrae went on to add, "I think that's what allowed people to be introduced to us, from that vantage point."
For some time, Lecrae and people within the gospel and Christian hip-hop community have held different views about how to classify his music. Although Lecrae won the BET Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Artist last month, he has been clear about not wanting to be seen as a gospel rapper.
"I am a Christian. I am a rapper. But Christian is my faith not my genre," the rapper tweeted in 2013.
Gospel music singers like Hezekiah Walker took issue with the fact that Lecrae made these types of statements but was recognized with gospel awards.
"..It's ok not to be a true gospel artist but if NOT don't accept the AWARD give it to those who are..," Walker, senior pastor of Love Fellowship Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York, wrote on Instagram last month.
Lecrae told Forbes what he feels separates him from Christian hip-hop artists:
"It's all about how somebody was introduced to you. So I tell you, 'You gotta listen to, I don't know, Taylor Swift," he said. "'She's a phenomenal country artist.' Now your brain is keyed into her being a country artist versus a pop artist."
The rapper drove the point home by adding, "I think that's been the introduction for me."