Lecrae Wins the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award at the BET Awards on Sunday (6/25/17). And the Gospel/ Christian Hip Hop Community explodes! The only question I have here is… why? He mentioned that the other nominees were true Gospel Artists, which is true. He said that he was just a rapper they let in to inspire people, which is.. kinda true?
I mean for over a decade he and a group of friends and fellow Hip Hop enthusiasts managed to make a single bible verse the most popular bible verse since John 3:16! This generation may have heard of “for God so loved the world…” but this “I will NOT be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…” Now THAT’s a scripture this generation of Christians can get behind! And again I ask….why? When Lecrae and friends started off with that “mantra” It wasn’t a cool thing per se. It wasn’t “what was good in the streets” It was really what they believed in! Being the Hip Hop generation that would not let anyone deter them from the faith that set them from from the bondage of sin. When you look back at that it was REALLY inspiring. Not only did this group Led by Lecrae live it. they named themselves after it. The 1:16 Clique. Based off of the Romans 1:16 scripture written by the Apostle Paul in the Bible.
So one would say this is a good thing right? For a time it really was. Learning the Bible became the cool thing to do! I mean there were plenty of groups and rappers that came before the 116 Clique, but man, something about these guys that just made people wanted to proclaim their faith and be “Unashamed” about it! A cool logo, NUMEROUS songs about being unashamed! It was a great time for discipleship! These guys showed up at Summer camps, conferences, Award show weekends taking a few up and coming rappers and putting them on the right path and much more! These guys were the real deal!
But then something happened. No there wasn’t a massive falling out with the group causing everyone to go solo. No one got hooked on drugs (as far as we know) and fell from grace so hard it shook the earth. No one even defected from the faith. What happened was, They became a trend! No, a trend is too small of a description, they became a Movement! Not long after the country got a hold of Lecrae and crew (Tedashii, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka) It expanded, You started to see more associations with other rappers we knew and loved like Flame, Da T.R.U.T.H., Thi’sl then recruiting younger members Like Derek Minor (at the time PRo) and Andy Mineo (at the time C-Lite).
This movement became something wild! Pretty soon the stigma of “All I have to do is say 116 in my song, and I’ll get noticed” became a major thing in Christian Hip Hop songs. for a good 5 or 6 years the indie CHH scene was flooded with 116 lines and chants that had no association with Lecrae, Reach Records, or associated members. CHH Websites were reporting every little thing that Lecrae and company were doing. Tweets, Posts, Grams with #116 ruled the interwebs.
All that was said to say this. Lecrae has become a Christian idol. No Thats not a TV CHH Competition. He has literally become the centerpiece of a lot of follower’s christianity. This is NOT his fault though. He never came out and declared himself the next coming of Jesus or any sort of Heavenly deity. he just simply made sense to a generation who weren’t treated with that same dignity in their home churches. As a man who didn’t start going to church seriously until I was 20. I came in from the streets and the first fear I had with salvation was losing my street cred. All that changed once I saw Cross Movement on BET’s Rap City, and I knew from there, all hope wasn’t lost for maintaining my hip hop style. Well, Lecrae did that and more for an entire generation to the point they put him on a pedestal he really didn’t ask to be on.
Lecrae Mentioned in an interview that he had rapped about almost everything he could rap about when it came to the hardcore Christian Hip Hop he was pumping out in the mid 2000’s. he wanted to go a different direction to start making music about “life” Reach Records changed their mission statement and the CHH community went nuts. Lecrae then started to state that he didn’t want to be labeled a “Christian” Rapper because it puts him in a box. Now I for one understood what he meant by when he says that. I don’t agree with it, but I under stand. He doesn’t want the immediate turn off of today’s society towards Christianity to stop a message from being heard, if they just viewed it simply as hip hop music. If you look at it like that, it kind of makes sense. The problem with that is it comes with a cost.
Lecrae’s rise to the top is largely because of the christian populous who bought his music because it had us “Riding with the top down, listening to this Jesus Music”. It wasn’t Choir or quartet music, we literally didn’t have to hide our christian affiliation, because we blended in with everyone else. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce people to Christ from a topical sonic entry point. Units were sold at concerts, book stores, then Walmarts, FYE’s and major retail outlets. Enough to put him on top of the Gospel Charts for over 16 weeks! Yes! the GOSPEL charts.
Now here’s where it gets good so pay attention. Shortly after Lecrae’s reign at the top ended some changes were made to the charting system as to where Christian Hip Hop music was no longer included in Billboard’s Gospel category. Instead all CHH music would be moved over the the Christian AC category and be measured there. The Reason is because “Gospel has a distinctive sound”, and Hip Hop doesn’t sound like gospel regardless of the lyrical content. That being said CHH was moved over to the same charts as Hillsong, and Mercy Me, because, you know, Billboard’s charts are categorized by the music’s “Sound”. But I digress..
Now with this shocking new development and announcement from The world’s most validated music measuring system. CHH can only live in a couple of places, Hip Hop and/or Christian AC. Which means that If Lecrae Charts he would chart on the HIP HOP charts or Christian Charts. And we all know that there’s NO WAY a Christian Rapper would chart on that Top 200 Right? RIGHT! Look, Lecrae said He’s not classifying his music as Christian anymore, and at that moment 2014’s “Anomaly” Sold 88,000 copies with 2.9 Million track downloads to secure his #1 spot on the Top 200!
Why am I telling you all this info you probably already know? Because Lecrae made it VERY clear that he doesn’t want the Christian label on his music. The message in the music maybe clear as day, but he himself is fighting to make sure it’s counted as “Normal” Hip Hop. So when He starts comparing himself to Chance The Rapper, and Kendrick, and Lauren Hill, He honestly believes that he’s in that group of “inspiring” Rappers. But when you think about it. The reason why you’re probably mad is because you feel he should be using his platform to build up other rappers from a genre he doesn’t want to be a part of. Yet Chance wasn’t nominated in an “inspiration” Category was he? Maybe you’re mad because you see Lecrae trying his hardest to musically date the head cheerleader, and keeps ending up in the friend zone. Whatever the reason, The CHH and Gospel community shouldn’t be mad at Lecrae because he’s trying his hardest not to be associated with you musically, and I was always taught that if someone didn’t want to be with or around you to let them go their own way. Maybe one day He’ll see that, that award he just won was the the secular world’s way of saying… “Nice try buddy, But you’re still one of ‘them’ to us”. No Matter how many Morning TV and Radio Shows he appears on. How many times he appears on Fallon, how many collaborations with secular artists he does, the fact remains that he will always have the same stigma that Peter had when he denied Jesus! They could tell him apart by his speech and his actions.
My Question to you, the reader is. Will you continue to reject him after the world makes his message loud and clear that he’s plain and simple.. a Christian Rapper? What are your thoughts? Let us know below!