“You probably watchin’ like ‘I never heard of him / I’d murder him / the nerve of him
/ rockin’ with P-p-p-p-remier, that’s so absurd of him’”
Perhaps that verse during the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards International Cypher was your introduction to the lanky Christian rapper Lecrae. Or maybe it was when “Live and Let Live,” the second single from Statik Seletah’s Population Control album, hit the web last week.
Either way, the tall dude with the unique name (that BET misspelled on screen) may seem like a rook to some, but has actually been holding it down and building a loyal faith-based audience since the early Aughts. Here are 5 things you need to know about Lecrae Moore.
1. He’s not the first and not the only
Although he’s currently the most visible and highest selling Christian rapper, Lecrae is not the first (or only) MC to claim the cross. In fact, artists like him have been recording hip-hop music for over 25 years.
MC Sweet and Stephen Wiley are largely credited as some of the first to have commercially available Christian rap records for sale in the early 80’s with artists and groups like Michael Peace, S.F.C., Apocalypse, P.I.D., Lil Raskull, Gospel Gangstas, GRITS, and T-Bone following after them.
They often vary in styles, mission, and (gulp) talent, but today, it’s hard to swing a Dead Sea Scroll at any inner city church and NOT hit a homegrown Christian rapper. Guys who have made a mark on Worldstarhiphop.com and iTunes within the last year include Bizzle, Thi’sl, and PRo.
2. He’s authentically hip hop, authentically Christian
If you’ve seen or read any Lecrae interview from the past year you’ve probably heard him drop that “authentically hip-hop, authentically Christian” self description. The thing is, it’s not just a marketing phrase – it’s actually true. Crayola gets co-signs from Lupe Fiasco and Bun B and gives public performances with the David Crowder Band and Natalie Grant. He’s just as comfortable talking about his discography as he is his theology.
3. He leads a true movement
There’s no denying Lecrae is currently the “face” of Christian hip-hop. And while he’s accumulated Grammy nods, 157,839 Twitter followers, and record label that has released over 25 titles, he’s still believably adamant that it’s not about him.
The “116 Clique” (based off the Romans 1:16 verse from scripture) started as a college bible study and is now a full-fledged movement of Christians who are “unashamed” of the gospel message. It’s evidenced in the “Don’t Waste Your Life” tour (based around a book by popular pastor John Piper), 13 Letters small group study curriculum, hurricane relief fund raising efforts, and a rash of pre-teens making the 1-1-6 logo into their first tattoo.
4. He reps the south
Lecrae was born in Houston and proud Texans like myself never miss an opportunity to share that fact. Later in life he attended the University of North Texas in Denton, intentionally moved his family to inner city Memphis afterward, and now resides in the A-T-L.
Sonically, he reps the south as well – even offering a chopped and screwed version of his camp’s first compilation.
5. Real talk, the dude is real serious
Indeed, by all accounts (and my personal interactions) Lecrae appears to be super serious about his faith. This isn’t a DMX-I-want-to-be-a-preacher-after-I-get-out-of-jail or Pastor Murda Ma$e situation. Lecrae is 100% convinced and sold out to the notion that he can make disciples of Jesus Christ through hip-hop.
Alongside his record label, he’s founded Reach Live ministries geared toward equipping churches and pastors with tools and techniques specifically designed to impact urban culture. Its most recent initiative is a campaign called the Man Up tour that includes a film, panel discussion, and concert all centered around the concept of teaching the principals of true biblical manhood to members of the hip hop community.
Oh yeah, his music is pretty good, too. Dude’s serious about his craft and continues to improve. (Exhibit A: His extra-hungry verse in the BET cypher.)