In my last article on TMW I reviewed the graphic novel Cardboard by Doug TenNapel. I mentioned how TenNapel appears to be breathing fresh air into comic books created by Christians (not that he is the only Christian making good comic books). However, in keeping with the theme that my last article started, I want to review another Christian artist –this time a musician –who has been gaining a good bit of media attention recently: Lecrae.
Lecrae, for those who may not have heard of him, is a Christian musician based out of Atlanta, Georgia. He actually grew up on the south side of Houston (for an in-depth bio see here), where he was raised by his mother. He idolized the street life that he found around him during his early life, but came to know Christ at a conference at age 19. Since becoming a Christian he has released several albums, and even started his own record label and nonprofit.
So, what about his music? Lecrae is a rap artist. I realize this might turn some people off of his music. However, being myself someone who was not a big rap fan before listening to Lecrae (and I only like very select artists even now), I would encourage even skeptics to check out his work. His lyrics are filled with themes of forgiveness, hope, grace, man’s sinfulness, and the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Many of Lecrae’s songs draw from his past, and his target audience: people who have lived life on the street. However, his focus on the core of the Scriptures means that even though not all the specific scenarios he sings about may be common experiences to all listeners, the Christian view is something that all Christians’ should be able to understand fully: our own sin, God’s unfathomable love and patience, and Christ’s sacrifice. Part of what makes Lecrae’s music so powerful is that his imagery is vivid, and also -just like in the psalms of David -the words are expressions of the same desires and feelings that many Christians have on a day to day basis. When speaking of our own sin, and Christ’s sacrifice, Lecrae raps:
You were stabbed, You were murdered
And for me is why You bled
But I spit on your bloody face as if I never cared
Lord, how dare I compare my pain?
Your father turned his back
And You were left to hang
I don’t know why You did it, that I can’t explain
How can You love this sinner who’s desecrated your name?
Lord, I deserve the flames
and when speaking of God’s love:
Your love’s so deep you suffered and took pain, you died on the cross to give me a new name
Ain’t nothing like I’ve seen before, I got a beaming glow
I was low, down, and dirty, but you cleaned me, Lord
You adopted me, you keep rocking me
I’mma tell the world, and ain’t nobody stopping me!
I’m not much of a music critic/expert, but I hope you have found this short blurb interesting, and I would encourage giving Lecrae’s music a try. He is a musician using a medium known for its profaneness, hedonism, and misogyny, and turning it on it’s head to reach an audience that may not otherwise hear the gospel message –and he is doing it well. On that note, I would like to close with my favorite Lecrae song from his album Gravity, enjoy:
NOTE: There are other excellent rap artists who can also be found with Lecrae on the Reach Records website.