Lecrae has a longevity that is tough to have in mainstream or Christian Hip-Hop. He’s been dropping music since 2003. This is an artist who has impacted many lives through his music, missions domestically and abroad. He's also had a major influence on many artists. We have seen his metamorphosis musically and personally. He has spoken out against racial injustice, and he has been a strong force on Instagram and Twitter with his inspirational messages of hope. His latest single, “Set Me Free,” has made waves with a dope Mary Mary sample.
NEWS FLASH: He will be releasing his new single, "Deep End" really soon. Next, his single with John Legend called “Drown” will drop in mid-July and his highly anticipated upcoming album, Restoration comes out towards the end of August 2020.
I had the privilege of speaking with Lecrae about his upcoming music, his recent travels, and where his personal passions are taking him next.
You took a trip to Israel. I saw the pictures that you were posting while you were there. What did this trip mean to you?
Oh, man, that trip was everything. The best way I can describe it is when you are expecting a child and you look at the ultrasound. It doesn’t get real to you until you see that child in the flesh and blood and then you’re like, “Wow, this is a real situation!” I had to take everything in more seriously than I ever imagined. That’s what it was like being in Israel. I know the Word is true. I know what I believe, but when I saw it, it was like “Wow, this is serious!” It made me put a lot of things into perspective.
I’m highly anticipating Restoration and all that is going along with it. Tell us why you’re excited about the album. What do your kids think about it?
Restoration is all about perspective. If you're in the midst of the worst possible circumstance you have ever been in or the darkest time in your life, the hope that things can be restored carries you through. You need to see other people who have been restored so you can see that restoration is possible.
On top of that, I want people to know that’s what God is all about. He’s not withholding restoration. He’s not saying, “I don’t know if I want to restore your life or your marriage.” He’s excited to restore you and we should hope for that. I just wanted to use my life as a journey. Restoration does not mean that we won’t walk with a limp, but we will walk. Sometimes that limp is the evidence to show that I’m still depending on Him every day. I didn’t think I’d walk again, but I’m walking. That’s what the album is all about.
My kids are my worst critics. So, they’re like, “Go back and change that Daddy. The beat could be stronger.” They’re not fans, they’re critics saying, "It can always be better."
You're dropping a documentary a few months after the album drops. Another example of your transparency.
This documentary is the journey to restoration as it pertains to me, specifically, in mental health and family. I come from a very broken and dysfunctional family. God does restoration in that and does some healing in my own mental health. I went through a very stressful time just taking on the role of being a voice in culture and standing up for issues in the community. I was overwhelmed by the blowback. It just took a toll on me, mentally. It took me to a dark place that I needed help to get out of. This documentary just details that journey. It allows people to see my scars up close and how they heal.
I heard that you are, once again, being a man of action by buying up an entire block and starting a school.
Peace Prep Academy is a school that is in its fifth year in Atlanta. Every year, a new grade is added. The school is in English Avenue, also known as The Bluffs. There were no schools in the area. All the schools were closed down. The kids either had to be bussed out or were not going altogether. It was a dire need.
Years ago, I had a mentor who taught me about owning my own house. So, I bought a house in Memphis, Tennessee, and Benjamin Wells, who is now over the school, said he had a vision about opening a school in his community. He just needed the seed capital to start it. I sold the house and used the funds from that house to help start the school.
Since then, I’ve seen the importance of owning property. We bought more property on the west side just for the community. We have more plans that we want to see happen including film studios, healthy eating, and things of that nature. There’s a lot of ideas and plans going for the future. We want to be an example and show those kids their own capabilities.
In addition to Peace Prep Academy, you’re out there setting up places where homeless wash their hands all around Atlanta. Please talk about this initiative and some of the other people whom you are bringing restoration to.
Community is on the fringes. The homeless community is forgotten about and I have a passion for those who have been forgotten. Prisons, people living in disenfranchised communities, the homeless, and forgotten folks whom I feel get the short end of the stick. We have the privilege to not think about them, go on about our lives, spend our money, and go to our jobs.
I’ve been working with the charity organization Love Beyond Walls to make sure those who are living on the streets get clean water and soap. We’ve been working with Prison Fellowship to make sure that people with short sentences can get released so they don’t have to die from the COVID-19 virus, which some have died from already. A one-year sentence should not equal a death sentence.
You have a platform, but how can people go from lip service, which definitely serves its purpose, and social media "wokeness" to actually being out and making things happen?
Most of us feel helpless and all we know to do is use our voice online. Yet, there are so many programs and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. All the energy you’re using to think of what to post on social media can be used to do some research on programs in your own community that you can get involved in to push back on some of these things you are passionate about. You can do some research on some of the policies that you could vote on to change some of these things. Some of the people who are policymakers are in need of certain things. So get involved in some of the programs and policies. Then of course we need prayer. We DO need those voices. In addition to speaking out, get involved with some of the programs and policies.
Ahmad Ahber, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd are three people of color whose horrendous deaths have shaken the world. Personally I am tired of adding names to the huge list of those who have experienced racial injustice. Tell us how you’re feeling and what can we do to address these issues?
First of all, it’s all terrible and the sad reality is this is just what we’ve caught on camera. Who knows what hasn’t been caught on camera First thing we have to do is see people as image-bearers and made in the image of God. Stop seeing them as a potential criminal. These are relatives, family members, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers.
We’re not trying to make them martyrs or the most sanctified people in the world and we shouldn’t have to. However, these are human beings made in the image of God. That alone should give them dignity and that alone should make them worthy of us lifting our voices and saying something.
I also think as much as we want to present these issues, as people of color, I can’t sit around and wait for our white brothers and sisters to jump on the bandwagon. I still have to do the work. I still have to be out here and still have to lament. I can’t be upset because you don’t want to join. I want to present it to them and say, “Hey, we’re brothers and sisters and I want you to join me.” At the same time, I can’t hold back my tears and hold back my desire to be effective. I will call my white brothers and sisters to be vocal. I will tell my communities of color to be constructive and not destructive. Use your anger to make a difference. Go build something. Go create a program. Go create a plan. We’ve seen a million riots and none of it has changed anything.
On a funny note, these YouTube videos are hilarious. What made you start sharing these real-life stories with animation?
You know what’s funny? I have so many of them and I would tell them in my circle and to other people. Then I was like, “Yo, I should tell these to the world.” Being on this side of my career after seeing it all and doing it all, I’m over myself. I don’t take myself that seriously. So let me share this stuff and let people know what’s going on.
Are you releasing Restorationon Columbia Records?
That’s a great question. A lot of the delays that came with this album came from a lot of back and forth. We just felt that it was more efficient for us to put it out on Reach Records and by the grace of God, we got the album back from Columbia. So it will be out on Reach and I am excited about that. I think it belongs to the 116 community and the Reach community. It belongs to the fans and I want them to have it the way they should have it.
Dwayne Lacy is a long time History teacher in Houston, Texas. He also has a passion for diversity in unity in music and in the church.
Lecrae Upcoming music, recent travels and where passions are taking him
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