Lecrae is a Christian by faith, but an emcee by trade. The Houston-native has received critical acclaim throughout the years with his music that's a reflection of his life and relationships. Following the success of his Christian Albums No. 1 "Rehab" series, the man formally known as 'Crazy 'Crae" returned with his Don Cannon-hosted mixtape "Church Clothes" in early February and is currently prepping the release of his sixth studio album, "Gravity" (September 4).
Featuring appearances from Big K.R.I.T., 'American Idol' finalist, Ashton Jones, and 'The Voice' finalist, Mathai, "Gravity" finds the independent artist evolving within the current state of his career. Lecrae amped up the level of production for a stronger mainstream presence and mixed reggae and soul influences with his signature brash sound.
Though he's seen mainstream success -- peaking in the Billboard 200 top 20 and Rap Albums top 5 -- he has no desire to impress or please anyone."I have no need to impress because I'm already accepted by my creator," he said during the album's listening session in NYC on July 18.
Minutes after the "Gravity" listening, Lecare sat down with The Juice to discuss "Gravity," his Big K.R.I.T. collaboration, Meek Mill's "Amen" controversy, and more.
You've seen success on the Billboard charts and elsewhere. Is there anything you haven't done with your music that you'd like to do in the near future?
As long as the charts are a reflection of people really tracking my music and being inspired by it, I want to continue to stay there.
What sets "Gravity" apart from your past releases?
Obviously, there's more risk involved in terms of just making more mature music that's not as straight [and] explicit. it's dealing with bigger issues. People may have to think a little bit more. The production is a lot bigger and more advanced than it's been. Lyrically, as an artist, I think I've written some of the best lyrics I've ever written.
What sparked the ingenuity with this album?
Life, travel, relationships. In a couple years, I've experienced so much, toured the world, met some interesting people, and have gotten to hang out with people who are icons in multiple avenues and lanes. There's an anthropologist hidden in me somewhere that wants to learn more about people and culture and inspire them.
You do a lot of collaborations, most notable is the one with Big K.R.I.T. How was it working with him?
K.R.I.T., man. Before we started making music, he reached out to say he respects what I do and appreciates me. That said a lot. Outside of that, his honesty and transparency marks him. He's not afraid to say he doesn't have it all together, that he may be confused about some things, that he may be conflicted. I think that's the average, normal person, and that's what people enjoy about him.
What are your thoughts on those who will wonder about your collaborations that are with artists outside Christian music?
The beauty of it is, is it's not a sermon, it's not 'Hey, K.R.I.T., come up to the pulpit and say something.' It's a confession. I would hope that every Christian would want to have relationships with people who would want to be open and transparent and that you'd want to help them. It just so happens ours is a song.
Given the recent controversy surrounding Meek Mill and Philadelphia pastor, Jomo K. Johnson, what is your view on mainstream rappers using words that have a spiritual representation in your faith, such as "amen" and "hallelujah" ?
It's going to sound funny, but it doesn't bother me if a person doesn't understand the root or the base meaning of something, or if they don't value that thing to speak about it. It's almost like being mad at a blind person for bumping into you. You don't get mad at the blind person for bumping into you, you show them where the seat is, so I'm more interesting in helping people understand what those terms mean verses getting mad at its misuse. It doesn't bother me. It just shows me that I need to be here doing what I'm doing.
As you progress in your career, are you looking to impact mainstream music?
On and off the mic, I want to impact the world, so there's part of me that's pastoral and wants to help my brothers and sisters learn and grow. There's a part me that's missionary and philanthropic and wants to reach out and help those in need. I'm a little more complex than a "Christian rapper."
Does it ever concern you whether your peers take you serious because of what genre your music falls into?
Not really. No more than Lil Wayne would be concerned about people taking him seriously with making "How to Love." His credibility wasn't lost with that, so I don't know why mine would either.
While Christian rappers seem very few and far in between, you're changing that with the label you co-founded, Reach Records. What can we expect to hear from Reach Records this year?
Our roster is fierce and they're just waiting to jump at it. Every door I open, they're ready to run through and leave their mark and I'm really excited. Our artist KB debut at No. 2 on iTunes with his first album, right under Nas. I think that's a testament of people not only wanting good music, but a message that is transformative and that's what I really hope to keep pushing and growing our artists into. That's really where my head is at in terms of being a label owner and leader.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career thus far?
The most rewarding part of my career is seeing my fans -- which I call family -- stick with me every inch of the way. It's like we're a family and we're growing together. I think it's remarkable that even if they perceive me of having made a mistake, they don't throw me away. They give me grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and no matter how far and wide I go, they're still and still with me. That's the most rewarding part.