Today Lecrae dropped his new album All Things Work Together, which by his own description “Is his most transparent work to date.” After listening to it for the first time, I can say I agree with that statement. I learned some things about him as an artist and as a man that I thought I would share with you.
Lecrae is still unashamed
We’ve all seen the debates and discussions about Lecrae and the route he has taken musically. A large group of people feel as though he has abandoned his stance of being unashamed of the gospel. I would have to disagree with this stance, and say that he’s still very much unashamed. As much as Lecrae has tried to distance himself from being labeled as a CHH (Christian Hip Hop) artist, I would have to say that his new album is still very much CHH.
The reason is simple, the message of God’s grace, redemption, and love is displayed throughout the entire album. As much as Lecrae has been criticized for “dissing” CHH, I would say that his new album is probably more “CHH” and more relatable to real people than the music that the average Christian rapper releases.
In my opinion, just like the “super-religious” in the church, CHH has a transparency issue. Many artists only talk about doctrine and “going hard for Christ,” but never about their own battles; even though everybody knows we all have them. When I encounter this in the church, it feels fake and rehearsed and it’s hard to relate to someone like that.
Lecrae’s new album was laced with stories of his struggles and his raw emotion about certain things, but it also points to the strength that he gets from Christ. That’s something I can vibe to, and alot of people are going to relate to this as well. So while everyone was looking for stones to throw at him for stepping outside the “CHH box” (and it is very much a cold metal box at times), he was in the studio making an album that is very relevant in both Christian and mainstream markets. You can’t make the kind of album that he just made and not be unashamed, especially when he probably had access to do songs with a “who’s who” list of secular hip-hop artists.
As far as the term “CHH” I’m almost at the point where I want to stop using it because it’s borderline becoming it’s own god. For the record, Lecrae never once tried to distance himself from Jesus or from his faith but it was only this man-made genre that the church built.
Just like other man-made church traditions, people will defend them tooth and nail when really those created things have no bearing on a person’s personal relationship with God.
The backlash hurt him deeply
You can hear the hurt & the pain whenever he talks about the criticism that he received. It apparently got so bad that he began taking Xanax, which if you don’t know its a doctor prescribed medication for depression and anxiety. Of course, I don’t know the whole story and it appears there may have been other things that contributed to those feelings, however I would be willing to bet that this played a big role.
Church folk can be some of the most cold and heartless people around, and it’s a big reason why many people want nothing to do with “church.”
If you know anything about the early Christian rap movement, one of the things artists always wanted was to see Christian rappers get mainstream attention. Lecrae was the first Christian rap artist to win a Grammy and have the number one album in the country. But instead of having those accomplishments celebrated, he was largely criticized as becoming a sellout and not making the kind of music that he was always known for: the super Jesus music youth group type songs. What people don’t see is that his message is still very much about Jesus.
They say the first one through the door always gets hit the hardest, and I pray that more Lecrae’s will make it to mainstream. I just pray that the next one through doesn’t get slammed as hard. In the church, many of us shoot first and ask questions later; many people get hurt that way. When you seek to understand a person’s why, you don’t shoot first you hold your tongue until understanding is obtained. I understand the artist Lecrae more after hearing his new album, also more of Lecrae the human is understood. There’s more than one way to make music as a man/woman that believes in Jesus Christ, and that’s something the church has to come to grips with.