Lecrae fell in love with hip-hop as a youth. While staying at his grandmother’s home, Lecrae would sneak and watch hip-hop videos with his older cousins. After seeing Eric B. and Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend,” he was inspired to find a way to become involved with the fascinating music genre. Lecrae eventually began writing about the troubles he was dealing with as a teen and later used his gift to rap about faith. With the release of his new album, Rehab, Lecrae is trying to take Christian hip-hop to another level. –a.r.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue Christian hip-hop?
When I started rapping, I rapped about everything. I had a lot of issues growing up from having an abusive childhood and issues with my father. I wasn’t really big on faith and religion, but at 19 I was introduced to a group of young guys who were really passionate about their faith. I didn’t know Christians could be young or weren’t always in suits. I thought maybe if they could be Christians, so could I, and really my whole worldview changed, everything about me changed as I gave my life over and put my faith in Christ.
At what point did you realize that you needed to share your thoughts with the public?
I began when I met up with my partner, Ben, and we would spend time going to juvenile detention centers and trying to encourage young guys by rapping to them. They hear a lot of different artists and have a lot of favorites, but rarely do any of them go to the centers to visit them. Ben saw me doing that consistently and said let’s put something on wax.
Why did you decide to release your albums independently instead of going through a major label?I initially put out a small independent project and we walked to book stores with boxes of CDs in [our] arm[s] … and ask[ed] if we could sell them there. It started in a small college town, so I knew a lot of people on campus and I had a lot of good relationships. I just started getting a local buzz and then we got distribution. I didn’t have to carry my music to the store anymore, which was a good thing. Our label is called Reach Records. The new album, Rehab, debuted at number No. 1 on the Christian hip-hop charts and No. 5 on the rap charts.