If you want to know what the next generation of Gospel music will probably look like, just peer in the direction of Lecrae Moore aka Crayola aka Creezie, best known as Lecrae…a tall, dark and incredibly articulate young brother who’s making noise with a new generation of believers.
Since his conversion and subsequent dive into the music business in ’04, Lecrae has racked up an incredible rap sheet that included, six studio albums, 2 Grammy Awards, millions of music fans from every culture and Christian denomination.
Not willing to rest on his laurels, Lecrae has also taken on a keen interest in mentoring and strengthening today’s men by advocating the responsibility of fatherhood. Just last year, Lecrae partnered with Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade and Joshua DuBois in the multimedia initiative called – This Is Fatherhood – part of the Obama Administration’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative.
BlackGospel.com stole a few minutes from Lecrae, who’s always on his grind, and talked about the impact of Hip Hop music on the Gospel, his conversion into Christianity and a couple of his favorite artists.
Christopher Heron: Lecrae, I should mention, as a side note, I was at the Stellar Awards a few years ago and was sitting about four rows from the front, and my wife and I were there enjoying the show, and we enjoyed your set with Da Truth and Canton Jones.
After the show my wife shared a little tale with me…about a row across from us was Marvin Sapp and his children. They were busy texting on their smart phones all night and acting like the show was just another one of those red carpet affairs that was more meaningful to the adults in the room than for children.
However, when you, Da Truth and Canton Jones hit the stage, representing the next era of Gospel music…Hip Hop in all its glory, it was the one time that Marvin‘s kids got up and thoroughly got into the show and live performances. I guess it’s indicative of the kind of ministry that you have, that’s really tapping into the next generation.
LeCrae: That’s a blessing. That is very encouraging, and I appreciate that.
Christopher Heron: First and foremost, how do you peg or describe you’re ministry when it comes to the style and genre? Is it Inspirational Hip Hop, is it Holy Hip Hop, how do you describe your Gospel?
LeCrae: I call it Hip Hop because it is Hip Hop in terms of the art form. I am a Christian and so I’m not ashamed of the Gospel and you will hear the Gospel from me. You’ll hear things that Jesus endorses. I think if you wanted to categorize this art form, technically it is Hip Hop. The content of it is definitely exclusive to Christian world views and virtues. That’s the dramatic difference there.
Christopher Heron: The success of your recent releases (Rehab, Gravity) has really expanded, not only your profile, but your market. How do you feel that it’s taken many years for Black Gospel music fans to not only recognize you but gravitate towards and embrace your ministry as part of the Gospel.
Lecrae: I have seen a huge transition, obviously in terms of the wider acceptance. But I also think that since we began doing this years ago, there has always been a faithful following, a faithful group of rag tag individuals who said, “This is the sound track about my life, and this is the music that I will always resonate with”. I have always felt a strong support system, but it has been more recently that it’s been even more widely accepted than it has in the past.
Christopher Heron: You speak in your testimonies about your conversion, your transformation on campus, and hearing the ministry of James White, aka Ghetto Priest. Was that really a pivotal moment or transformational experience? Could your ministry have gone to where it is today had you not crossed paths with James White?
Lecrae: I think the message that was preached by James White was pivotal in my conversion, but I think more than that was seeing young people who dress like me, talk like me, who look like me and they were expressing their faith in a context that I could understand. In the same way Jesus came as a Hebrew, Jesus spoke the people’s language, Jesus looked like them, Jesus dressed like them and that was powerful. For me to see indigenous individuals express their faith gave me a new picture of what Christianity could look like and it moved me to another level.
Christopher Heron: Prior to your conversion, can you give me an overview of what type of personality, or type of person you were? Were you a thug, where you hustler, or where you just drifting?
Lecrae: I think I was definitely a hustler, definitely always looking for a come up, always selfishly manipulating the circumstances and situations to my own benefit. I wasn’t the person who was riding people at gun point, none of those types of things, but I was hustling. I had definitely had my run-ins with the law. I think it’s all a testimony to Jesus being able to use everybody and anybody.
Christopher Heron: You’re well into your 30’s, and you’ve matured not only as a man, but as a Christian. How much can be attributed to being a family man with a wife and children?
Lecrae: It’s 100% Jesus. There’s no way possible I would be a married man with kids had I not converted to Christianity. I had made a plan at 20 years old that marriage was out of the picture for me, and Jesus just changed my whole perspective, my whole world, my whole life and appreciation for things. So, I would never imagine myself to be the person that I am today if I could go back in time and look at me today.
Christopher Heron: Do you find that your audience and fan base is evenly divided between the Contemporary Christian and the Gospel market?
Lecrae: My fan base, absolutely. There’s the Contemporary Christian market, and definitely supported in the Gospel fan base as well. I think Gospel was historically resistant to embrace Hip Hop, but I think as of late there has been an embracing from the various families that just spoke of seeing young people embrace this art form, this music as the one that they most identify with. I think the Gospel industry and the powers that be are realizing that as well.
Christopher Heron: Who are a few artists today or in the past that have really had an impact on your career or have inspired you?
Lecrae: Definitely Mali Music. I think Mali gives it in terms of being…he reaches people from different places. He’s very talented and he’s passionate about his art, just as much about his faith as his art. I love his music and so I loved working with him. I respect Kirk Franklin so much just from what he has done, from what he has come from, and how he’s transcended music and changed things so much.
Christopher Heron: It was a pleasure speaking to you and I wish you nothing but success with your Hip Hop ministry.
Lecrae: Thank you, I appreciate you as well. God Bless you and your family.