Houston rapper Lecrae is known for reaching disaffected audiences with inspiring, positive messages. But what makes Lecrae tick? We sat down with rapper Lecrae to discuss the message of his music, the albums that inspired him to start rapping, his relationship with the “Christian Hip-Hop” label, and much more!
GGM: Your new record, Anomaly, comes out in August. What is the title in reference to? Lecrae: The definition of “anomaly” is a deviation from what’s normal. I want to do an album for everybody out there who feels tired of trying to fit in. They want to embrace their differences and embrace the reality that God made them different and that’s just who they are. Be who you’re supposed to be and not who everyone else wants you to be.
GGM: How does it compare to your previous records?
Lecrae: For me, it’s one of my most liberating records, just as an artist. It’s really me at the most comfortable that I’ve ever been. I’m in my own skin. Sonically, I’m taking more chances, more risks then I’ve ever taken before. I’m really comfortable. I really love what’s come together artistically. You’ll hear a confident, comfortable artist who can relate to you a lot more and can tell stories that you probably wouldn’t have been able to hear otherwise.
Anomaly Album Cover
GGM: You’ve had the opportunity to tour with some amazing artists on Rock the Bells like Wu-Tang Clan, Common, Rakim, people who have been in hip hop forever. I wanted to talk about some of your favorite records growing up. What records really inspired you to start rapping?
Lecrae: Oh man. It’s funny, but definitely Snoop was huge for me. When his first album, Doggystyle, came out, that was a big record for me. Tupac’s All Eyez on Me was hands down one of the biggest influences as a kid. And the biggest of all time? The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The first time I heard that as a teenager, it just rocked me.
GGM: I totally understand that. That album is amazing. How about now? What’s your favorite album of 2014?
Lecrae: I’m still thoroughly impressed with Kendrick Lamar’s album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, which came out in 2012. It was very impressive, very thorough. One of the most thorough albums I’ve heard. And Aloe Blacc’s Lift Your Spirit, which isn’t a hip hop album, but is another great album I was impressed with.
GGM: I read in your interview with ESPN that because you’re “athletically inclined,” you like to have music that pumps you up. What songs do you listen to to get you fired up?
Lecrae: In the gym? My man Andy Mineo has a song out called “You Can’t Stop Me” that’s buzzing pretty strong underground. That’s huge for me. But I’ll still listen to old school stuff like Outkast’s, “B.O.B.,” or “Bombs Over Baghdad.” I feel like I can run 30 miles on the treadmill when that thing’s playing. Anything that’s high energy, I’ll probably throw it in the mix.
GGM: Absolutely. “Bombs Over Baghdad” is an excellent selection. That song gets me so hyped! When you get downtime, what are some things you like to do? Do you watch TV? Read?
Lecrae: Yeah I read! Reading is fundamental.
GGM: What are some of your favorite books?
Lecrae: I’m a big sociology and culture fan, so I’ll read Malcolm Gladwell. Tipping Point, Outliers. I just finished the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. That was really enlightening for me as well. And I’m a movie buff. I like going to the movies, but I’ve been holding off going to the movies recently because I have a 20-hour flight coming up later this month, and I know all these movies in theaters now will be available on that flight.
GGM: What’s one you’re definitely looking forward to seeing that’s out right now?
Lecrae: X-Men! The latest X-Men. I haven’t seen it. I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to hear if it’s good or bad. I just want to see it.
GGM: Then I won’t spoil it for you! But what’s your favorite movie of all time?
GGM: You do quite a lot of work with athletes, so I have to ask, what’re your teams?
Lecrae: Oh, well, let’s see here… As for basketball, the Rockets are the team for me. We didn’t make it this year, but it’s all love. I really love players too, though. I really appreciate the players on different teams. I followed the Knicks and the Clippers a little bit this year. I enjoy their team chemistry. I’m from Texas originally, so, Go Spurs! Y’all did it. I would’ve rather it had been the Rockets, but it’s cool. Football, I don’t really have a team as much. The Saints are my team but other than that, I don’t really know what’s going on (laughs).
GGM: You recently wrapped up a tour in the Midwest and have had lots of opportunities to travel. What’s one spot, a shop or restaurant, that you HAVE to visit every time you travel?
Lecrae: Oooh, that’s good. I like boutiques. Any sneaker boutique is probably gonna be a must. But wherever the hipsters hang out, something that’s kinda grimy but there’s some sense of responsibility there. I’m a coffee dude, so I love coffee shops. Overall, though, it’s “Where the people at?” Where can I feel the grit of the city without necessarily being in the hood?" (laughs).
GGM: What’s a spot you had a really great time at?
Lecrae: Recently I was in Kensington Market in Toronto, and it’s dope. A lot of stores, a lot of coffee shops, a lot of places to eat, a lot of Jamaican food—I love Jamaican food!
GGM: Your faith will often come through your music so you’re often classified as a Christian Hip Hop artist, but I understand you’re not a huge fan of that label, or any labels, really. How would you best describe the relationship you have to the label?
Lecrae: I would say, for me, my faith is a part of who I am. It’s how I am identified as a person, but my music does not have a faith, sort of in the same way Jeremy Lin or Steph Curry are basketball players and not “Christian Basketball Players.” Their faith may influence how they play, but they’re not playing “Christian basketball.” Which isn’t to say I don’t want to be associated with Jesus, or anything like that. Quite the contrary! But what I don’t like is when people pigeonhole the music and say “Oh, all he’s gonna rap about is X, Y, Z,” and that’s really not the case. It’s just that there’s a way that I see the world that is quite different than a lot of people. I don’t mind addressing that, or talking about it.
GGM: LeCrae, it’s been great talking to you. Thank you so much.
Lecrae: And I appreciate you! Anomaly! Get it! Much love!
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