Grammy winning Christian rapper LeCrae released his 7th studio album this week, to much fanfare - it’s currently on course to top the Billboard 200 chart. He spoke with ESSENCE.com about staying connected to his spiritual source, lessons learned on his journey to success, and why Lauryn Hill is a major inspiration.
You're on the road a lot, what's the best way that you stay centered and spiritually nourished on the road?
Friends. It's a community around me that is very like-minded and shares my values and will constantly keep me in prayer. We get together for about 20 minutes before each show and take time to do a devotional of sorts. It may just be us wrestling through issues and talking about them; it may be us reading something, watching a DVD or something along those lines, but it's a time to settle our soul and get our mind right.
Do you have a scripture or a proverb that you find yourself always reaching back to?
It changes for me from time to time. Ephesians 2:10, which says, You are God's workmanship created for the things he's pre-planned. It reminds me that his workmanship… the original language that that was written in, the word is poy'-ay-mah and it's saying, you’re God's poem. A poem articulates the heart, mind and character of the writer, so it reminds me that everywhere I go, I'm a representative of God's heart and mind and his character and so I just live that.
What have you learned on this journey, now that you're famous? What have you learned about Lecrae?
I think first, I'd say, I think there's levels to everything. So when you have $20 in your pocket, you see the person with $50 and you think that's having money, and then you get $50 and then you think the person with $100 is the person who has money, and once you get $100 ... And so it's this never-ending deal. In one aspect, it's funny when people say, ‘So now that you're famous’ because I don't feel famous because obviously there's always someone who has way more claim. I will say that I think I learned that the climb to the top of the hill is almost futile because once you get to the top, you think you can rest but everyone at the top is fighting to stay there, so you fight to get there and then you fight to stay there. You start to say, ‘Man, let me fight for something a little more worthwhile than making it to the top of the hill.’
What's some of the best advice you've gotten about being in the industry?
That you don't want to ride the train of success and look back and see everyone you love on get run over on the train tracks. I think you sacrifice people you care about in your pursuit and you look behind and they're all beat up on the tracks. You're like, ‘I'm sorry, I was trying to get here.’ You just don't realize that. I was given that advice early. So that it stays in the back of my mind and that's not to say that I haven't looked back and said, ‘Oh, I'm sorry. Come back.’ It definitely resonates with me.
If you had to choose one song that nourishes you spiritually, what would it be?
Lauryn Hill's “Adam Lives in Theory.” It's amazing. Oh man, there's so many levels and layers to it. Obviously, conceptually, the picture it paints of humanity. I think we need to be reminded of our frailty. Emotionally, it kind of draws you out and reaches inside - and everybody wants to be drawn out. You don't hear a lot of music that you feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, you just pulled my soul out and put it on display.’ I think that's what that song did for me.
It feels like there’s a moment in music right now where people who aren’t necessarily religious are looking for more uplifting content.
Yeah, I think spirituality is always this unexplored thing. It happened in rock and roll; it was unexplored and now everyone was trying to explore it. We left it out... I think we leave God out historically because we think we know a better way until we find out we messed everything up and then we're like, ‘Okay God, where you at?’ I think a sense of spirituality that is not preaching at people, but talking to them and walking with them is completely different. That's what people can connect with. We've seen enough fingers pointed at us, we don't even know if you love us, we don't even know if you go through the things we go through, so we don't connect with you. What we aim to do is to put our arms around people and say, ‘Man, I'm human just like you. Here's where I'm finding hope, here's where I'm finding sustainability.’
Lecrae’s latest album, Anomaly, is available on iTunes.