Can a Christian truly embrace hip-hop culture? The disparity between faith and rap music has sparked an ongoing debate in hip-hop over the years, and at the intersection of this debate is Lecrae, the faith-based rapper who unabashedly wears Christianity on his sleeve all while delivering uplifting messages over booming, trap-style beats.
Lecrae’s not one to be pigeonholed into the label “Christian rapper” -- as his 2014 album title suggests, he's an "anomaly." On his newest album All Things Work Together, the rapper says he “finally felt the freedom to say everything," addressing a range of topics from his experience as a Christian in the rap sphere, to battling depression and his “Blessings.”
Recruiting the likes of Ty Dolla Sign, Tori Kelly, Verse Simmonds and Kierra Sheard for features on the 14-track effort, as well as production from Metro Boomin, Boi-1da and Mike WiLL Made-It’s EarDrummers, the Houston native set out to create one of his most vulnerable and raw albums to date, and is no longer concerned with public perception.
“Before, I kind of sugarcoated stuff, but I don’t care anymore,” he tells Billboard. “I’m going to be me fully, and if [my fans] really love me, they gotta ride with me – this is who I really am.”
Billboard sat down with Lecrae to discuss his new album All Things Work Together, being understood by the hip-hop world and which song nearly brought him to tears. Stream Lecrae's new album here.
For the album’s title, you seemed to quote the scripture Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Was that intentional?
Yeah, it was intentional. It was personal, but then I was like, 'How do I make it general, too?' Because everybody may not know that scripture or understand the deeper meaning. I think everyone can relate to all things working together because it’s like going to military training and you come out on the other side better, stronger. For me, it’s the idea that God has a purpose and a bigger plan for everything that I’m going through so I just gotta get to the end of this and hopefully it’ll reveal itself.
What’s the story behind that title?
I went through hell -- no pun intended -- in 2015-2016, and it was just a tough time. The music I was putting out sounded really dark and emotional, but then I got to the other side and the light, the sun came out between the clouds in 2017 and I saw how everything kind of worked together. The pain and the suffering that I went through made me an activist, it made me stronger, it made me more compassionate.