Since his 2004 debut, Real Talk, Grammy Award winning rap artist Lecrae Devaughn Moore has never been afraid to move the needle. Not only is he blessed with a lyrical utility belt that’ll make your favorite rapper blush, but he’s also firmly rooted in his Christian beliefs that generate buzz whether he’s speaking in front of thousands at a Passion Conference or dropping knowledge at the 2016 BET Hip-Hop Awards.
Furthermore, the Reach Records mogul has built a reputation for supporting Christian hip-hop without the rules and limitations it may create. “I believe some people make music for the church, and some people make music from the church to the world,” Lecrae explained to Rapzilla this past March. “For me, I don’t want to be exclusively for the church…if that’s you, then do it, and do it to the best of your ability.”
As he prepares for the September 22nd release of his major-label debut album All Things Work Together and the corresponding tour kicking off in October, Lecrae recently sat down with me to reflect on the recent five-year anniversary of his 2012 opus Gravity and how his forthcoming record chronicles one of the most tumultuous years he’s experienced since his turbulent teens.
Chris Lacy: The five-year anniversary of Gravity is upon us. Does it feel like it’s been that long and how do you view the LP in hindsight?
Lecrae: You know that’s funny because I was just listening to that album not too long ago, and I think, sonically, it was truer to me as an artist than any project I’ve done in a while. The content on Anomaly was me, but the sound was scattered. I think Gravity was more of a sound that was true to who I was at the time, so I think it’s really kind of a classic project for me. I don’t know if a lot of people understood or appreciated it.
CL: You’ve performed several Gravity cuts in a live setting since its release. Which song(s) gets the biggest response out of you and your audience?
L: One of my favorites to perform is “Mayday.” I travel with a band of live musicians so they’re able to really get in. Obviously, it’s thought-provoking content, so that’s always a fun one to perform. Even some of the bigger songs that are more commercial from the project—“Fakin’” or “I Know”—are fun as well.
CL: You’re seven (going on eight) albums deep in your career. What are the essential ingredients to your brand of hip-hop?
L: Putting some thought into the music you’re creating. When people know they’re levels to it, like the movie Inception, they can hear it on a surface level and appreciate it. But when they realize Easter eggs are hiding throughout the project, they appreciate that more. Then, of course, I stand apart as a devout Christian. You can hear that in the music but at the same time can navigate mainstream hip-hop. That blend is refreshing for a lot of people.
CL: What goes through your mind when artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, or Kanye West find mainstream success merging religious themes with explicit lyricism?
L: It’s all about how the music is perceived. Sometimes, music is a description, not a prescription. You listen to it, and you’re like “What is he prescribing?” He’s not necessarily prescribing anything, he’s just describing something, and when you’re describing, I think there should be some freedom to talk about the reality of what’s going on and how you feel.
CL: Speaking of Kendrick Lamar, you hinted during a fan Q&A that he might appear on All Things Work Together. If that were to happen, what would your artistic approach be to a song of that magnitude?
L: When Kendrick and I talk about making music, it must be special. When you have a devoted fanbase, you don’t just wanna create for the sake of creating. If you can’t create it or it doesn’t sound like the way it should sound, don’t force it. I’ve worked with some of the most incredible artists in the world, and certain songs won’t see the light of day just because they just weren’t ready.
CL: Each of your albums has a distinct personality and concept behind them. What should we know before hitting play on All Things Work Together?
L: This is a “very descriptive project.” You’re hearing my life, in 2016, play-by-play and I went to some dark places. I went into some very revealing things. Things that people will probably be shocked to hear me say that I experienced, but I became a better person through it, so I had to talk about it. That’s the whole idea of the album, All Things Work Together, is that the dark times work together for me to become the person that I am today. You need all those elements to create something good. People’s jaws will drop when they hear it.
CL: I noticed that you recently met one of your longtime musical heroes, Lauryn Hill. What was that experience like and will we see a future collaboration?
L: I’m still on a high off that, man. I will never take a fan interaction for granted again because of how much that meant to me. There aren’t a lot of artists that I feel that way about. I may have appreciated their art, but they didn’t necessarily speak to me in a spiritual way, and that’s what Lauryn did. It was a God moment, and I told her, “Listen, I have multiple Billboard and Grammy Awards, but I’m like a little kid right now because of how impactful your music was to me growing up.”
CL: If we were to scroll through your playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or Pandora, what would we find? What are you listening or jamming out to as of lately?
L: Andy Mineo and Wordplay’s Magic and Bird. I’ve been listening to Anderson .Paak, Solange Knowles, Cardi B, and Vic Mensa’s new project.
CL: The obligatory question: What are your Top Five favorite albums of all-time (in no particular order)?
L: Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z’s The Black Album, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001, 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me, and OutKast’s Aquemini.
CL: You’ve recorded successful albums, appeared in film, and wrote a book (Unashamed), what's next for Lecrae?
L: Right now, it’s my All Things Work Together Tour. It’s gonna be intense and better than the Anomaly Tour. It’s so big that I don’t even wanna talk about it until it has more legs underneath it. I’m just excited to even think along these lines and be considered for the stuff that’s coming my way. We’ll see what happens.
Lecrae’s new album ‘All Things Work Together’ arrives in stores September 22nd
SEE Lecrae on tour | Dates