During a routine practice with the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin took a minute to talk to a reporter from Fuse TV about his favorite music. Lin, who makes no efforts to hide his religion, named the popular Christian rapper, Lecrae Moore.
An artist you got to check out is Lecrae, Lin said. He's a Christian rapper. I really enjoy his lyrics as well, so if you're a big lyrics guy I think that will be a good fit for you.
Lecrae, whose six studio album, Rehab: The Overdose, was the highest charting Christian Hip Hop album ever on iTunes and debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200, is already a celebrity within the world of gospel-rap and will perform alongside Hip Hop supergroup, The Wu-Tang Clan at the Paid Dues Festival this April.
A talented rapper from an early age, Lecrae discovered his passion for Christianity while studying at Northern Texas University, and the two worlds melded naturally for him.
I think every rapper is a preacher, he told CNN in 2010. Every rapper is preaching something. They are either preaching that you can find satisfaction in a million dollars or 50 women, or that you are not a real man unless you are a killer.
In his music, Lecrae takes to the microphone with a fiery passion, using it as a pulpit to describe the world around him, condemning the status quo and conjuring up a better future. Just Like You, a single from his latest album, begins with Lecrae rapping passionately but softly over a militant drum beat about the responsibilities of being a father, the experience of being a son and the burden of being a role model.
The second verse is a lyrical list of all the wrong Lecrae sees in modern society: Now all I see is money, cars, jewels, Stars/?Womanizers, tough guys, guns, knives, and scars. This image of the world is dismissed as an old wives' tale, before Lecrae praises the value of simply being a responsible human being.
In the third and final verse the tempo and volume increase as Lecrae bears his soul and invokes Christ as both a leader of men and a all powerful savior: But God sees through my foolish pride/and how I'm weak like Adam, another victim of Lucifer's lies./ But then steps in Jesus/all men were created equal to lead, but now we need a king to lead us. Once the music has reached its crescendo and softened, Lecrae laments, You say you came for the lame, I'm the lamest. I broke my life but you say you'll replace it, I'll take it.
The style of Just Like You recalls the wordplay and stylized music production of rappers like New York's NaS, but in his earliest songs Lecrae imitates the manner of his native southern rap. Represent from the rapper's first album in 2005 opens with the lines Represent! Ger Krunk! Represent! Get Krunk! If you know you're repping Jesus go ahead and throw it up.
Lecrae uses whatever means necessary to bridge the church and the world that young Hip Hop listeners inhabit today. Beyond starting his own label (http://reachrecords.com/) to support a number of Christian rappers who are all members of the collaborative group 116 Clique, Lecrae cofounded ReachLife Ministries. The non-profit organization provides local Christian leaders with the tools to reach young people with culturally relevant messages from the Bible.
As a young child Lecrae was raised by a single mother and found male role models in soulful rap artists like Tupac. He moved often, living in Southern Houston as well as San Diego, Denver and Dallas. Lecrae was always able to make friends quickly thanks to his inate ability to freestyle rap, but looking back he realizes that the music and performers he imitated as a child were false idols.
I just [rapped] about what I esteemed to be, what I wanted to be like. Most of that was gangsterism, false sense of masculinity, money, women, he said to CNN.
In high school Lecrae supported himself by dealing drugs, until one night the police caught him. While sitting in the back of a cop car, handcuffed and expecting to be brought into the station, one of the officers found a Bible that Lecrae's grandmother had given to him and asked about it.
I need to live it, responded Lecrae, and the officer decided to let him go on the condition that he would live by those words.
Living by the Bible was easier said than done, and it wasn't until he was enrolled in college that Lecrae began to connect with other Christians on campus and subsequently connect with his own religion. Lecrae said that after meetings some of the members would stick around and rap about Jesus. In those impromptu freestyles Lecrae's two identities, the old and the new, mixed together, and a Christian Hip Hop artist was born.
Lecrae equates the world's problems with his own. Like his younger self, something is drastically wrong with society, and the only way to correct it is to bring out the best in oneself and join it with religion.
We are fractured, he told CNN. This is a fractured world, but there is rehabilitation available through Jesus.