This article is from Issue 59: Sep/Oct 2012

Lecrae

On his new album, new son and leading a new era of hip-hop

If Lecrae is nervous, he hides it well.

Nobody would blame him for a few jitters. He’s become a major player in the new wave of Christian hip-hop. He has a new album, Gravity, releasing September 4, and it’s poised to take his spectacularly consistent delivery of faith-laced rap to exponentially bigger crowds. But he talks about it with an easy confidence—and, well, he has reason for that too.

Lecrae is at the forefront of a movement that mixes faith and hip-hop without weakening the integrity of either. In his first five albums—all from the label he co-founded, Reach Records—he rewrote the rules for Christian hip-hop like he never knew there were any. His 2011 offering, Rehab: The Overdose, nabbed the top spot on iTunes. His first mixtape, Church Clothes, was downloaded 100,000 times in 48 hours. And when he performed for BET’s Hip Hop Awards, his name started trending worldwide. It’s all for good reason. Lecrae’s faith themes come across forceful instead of forced. We talked with him about the integral role faith plays in his work, among other things, and how it will always be a part of what he does.

Did you expect your first mixtape, Church Clothes, to go over as well as it did?

I think I wanted it to be influential, but I didn’t know it was going to be so impactful. And when I say that, I knew it would influence a listener—like, if somebody was just sitting and tripping with it, it would be influential. But in terms of, like, the size of the impact, I had no idea. So that was kind of mind-blowing, just to see outside of Christian circles there being so much feedback and so much reception. It was crazy.

How’s your new album, Gravity, coming along?

I’m excited about the new album. I think the mixtape kind of set stuff up for me to transition as an artist and speak about some broader topics and paint some bigger strokes. And then, too, I’m excited about the production and just taking some risks on doing stuff I think will alter the soundscape and push the envelope.