Lecrae tops charts. He breaks records. He sells out shows. He'll clear the deck at the Stellar and Dove Awards, then deliver a spoken word performance at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. People who identify as Christian often aren't allowed such duality, and so I ask him, do you ever worry about walking into hostile territory when you go into these arenas of "non-believers"?
"I used to feel like I had to be on my P's and Q's, and then I just got really comfortable in my own skin," Lecrae told REVOLT backstage at the New York stop of his Destination Tour. "You're so worried and anxious about people's perception that you don't realize you set the tone, you change the perception by who you are."
And the funny thing is, at times it's other Christians who accuse Lecrae of not being "Christian enough," angry that he won't plaster a "Christian rapper" label on his forehead. A recent headline actually read, "Lecrae's Dove Award Win 'Unfair to Actual Christian Rappers'?"
"I want people from all walks of life, all backgrounds to be able to feel like, man this music is for me," he said. "Maybe we don't have the same faith, but this song speaks to me in a unique and particular way."
It's possible to make music with a message that doesn't alienate people. The evidence is in the fact that his Church Clothes 3 mixtape, released earlier this year, debuted as the #1 Rap/Hip Hop Album, the #1 Independent Album, #3 Digital Album, and #12 on the Top 200 Album Chart. If Lecrae only preached to the choir, how effective would that be?
But we aren't all born with thick skin, and even if so, imagine how much criticism he's endured since his 2004 debut, Real Talk. He's come to embrace the beauty of his human complexity, whether others understand it or not.
"The thing about it is like I think we spend our lives looking for this perfect tribe that we can just fit in, and this is where we belong, and we set ourselves up for disappointment because all of us are just really unique and we're complex. Our tribe should be a tribe of complexity," he explained. " I'm very comfortable in hip-hop spaces because that's the culture in which I grew up in and know. I'm very comfortable in Christian circles; that's my family of faith. But it doesn't mean I can't walk in and out of both of those worlds, and so that's what I do."
However, the backlash only mounted as Lecrae spoke up on the Black Lives Matter movement, and on the way the deaths of unarmed black men in this country hurt him personally. People, again, wanted him to stay in his lane, and the feeling of hopelessness and lack of support on all sides made him withdraw. The Destination Tour is his way of rebounding, playing to small crowds and finding the intimacy in the art again, before he releases his next album at the top of 2017 and opens himself up all over again.
Watch our full interview with Lecrae below: