Lecrae Moore wants to make two things clear: He’s a man of God. And he's hip-hop. “If I was a plumber, I wouldn’t say, ‘I’m a Christian plumber,’” said the Houston-born rapper during a recent stop by the Complex offices. “I’m going to say I’m a hip-hop artist. You're going be able to tell the filter that my art goes through by listening to the music.”
Apparently folks like what they hear. His latest mixtape Church Clothes, hosted by Don Cannon, has been downloaded more than 200,000 times so far. He’ll release his debut album Gravity this fall, before going on a tour he calls "Unashamed." And if the idea of "gospel rap" leaves you uninspired, know this: you won't be ashamed to listen to it.
“Not to say that my music is going to be me reading the Bible and reading you a scripture on every song,” he says. “It’s just saying that this is who I am in the same way that other rappers have their faith and they believe what they believe. You still hear them as an artist articulating what they want to articulate.” Lacrae spoke about the wild life he lived before turning to God, how not all church kids are squares, and potential collabs with Lupe Fiasco and Kendrick Lamar.
COMPLEX: On your tape you talk about how you weren’t always the man of God you are today. Who were you before you had that epiphany?
Lecrae: I would say before I dedicated my life to living for God, I was really your average thrill seeker. Whatever came, came. They nicknamed me “Crazy ‘Crae.” I would just do whatever, whenever, however. I’d get drunk, jump out of a third-story balcony. So I just lived reckless. I think I just didn’t really know what I was living for. I was just living for whatever happens today and that was the extent of it for me.
I was infatuated with gang life. I tried pretty much every drug there was to try, except for heroin and crack. I was out there.
You don’t do any of that stuff anymore?
Yeah, I mean I still go out and have a good time but now I have my wits about me, you know what I mean? I was infatuated with gang life. I tried pretty much every drug there was to try, except for heroin and crack. I was out there.
What was that moment when you woke up and decided you needed to change?
I think it was just accumulation. I think for me it was seeing like, “OK, I keep running into this dead end.” Just having a grandmother who was rooted in the church it was like, “OK, maybe this is the direction I need to turn.” I really didn’t have a faith or know what that looked like and didn’t explore it.
A girl invited me to come out to a Bible study and I said, “Why not? I don’t have anything to lose.” I went and, to my surprise, I saw people that loved God, but they were not square or rigid. They were just people like me. They read the same books and listened to the same music. Their character was just different. They were loving and that’s really what drew me in. After that, it was just hearing them talk about their faith, hearing them talk about Jesus specifically. That was it for me.
When was that?
Right after high school. Not even a year after high school. So I was 19 and I had done everything from 16 to 19. I had done more than the average adult. And even after me saying, “Ok God I really want to live for you,” it wasn’t overnight. It was a process. And so I spent a lot of time making bad decisions.