Christian rapper Lecrae, whose latest album famously topped the Billboard top 200 in September, recently revealed why he believes Christians sometimes "prostitute" art to give answers--and why he shies away from the Christian music stereotype.
In an interview with the Atlantic, the 34 year old rapper, whose lyrics often include the issues of slavery, adultery, and abortion, said that he is not a "Christian rapper," but a rapper who happens to be a Christian.
"My music is not Christian-Lecrae is," he said. "And you hear evidence of my faith in my music."
The message behind the rapper's lyrics emphasize human brokenness and insufficiency while also warning about the dangers of immorality--issues rarely discussed by Christian artists.
"We've limited Christianity to salvation and sanctification," he explained.
"Christianity is the truth about everything. If you say you have a Christian worldview, that means you see the world through that lens-not just how people get saved and what to stay away from."
And Lecrae's unapologetic frankness resounds with fans; he also has sold 1.4 million albums and 2.9 million track downloads. "Anomaly" recently Billboard's No. 1-- a first for a gospel album and only the fifth for a Christian album.
Because Lecrae firmly believes believers must truly engage with culture, he intentionally addresses matters other than heaven and the glory of God in his songs.
While that kind of music is necessary, he said, "Christians need to embrace that there need to be believers talking about love and social issues and all other aspects of life."
However, many in the Christian music industry disagree with Lecrae's mentality--which, he argues, is why most Christian music is placed in an isolated, separate category.
"Many times, that's how people see Christian art, or Christians making art: They see the art as having an agenda," Lecrae said. "Christians have really used and almost in some senses prostituted art in order to give answers instead of telling great stories and raising great questions."
While Lecrae's music is not explicitly Christian, the way he lives his life certainly is.
Lecrae calls himself a "family oriented" man who attends a weekly men's Bible-study meeting. He's married and has three children, and makes sure he's home twice a week while on tour.
Reach Records, the label he co-founded and co-owns with his childhood friend Ben Washer is explicitly evangelical; as the company's website says, "the heartbeat of Reach is Romans 1:16, 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.'"
He also landed a role in the recently released movie Believe Me, about four students who try to exploit church-goers to raise money.
"Everyone's job, everyone's vocation, is an extension of their faith and how they see the world. Every job is an act of service," Lecrae explains. "If I was working at a call center collecting debts from people who have credits calls, I would call and try to help them, and try to serve them."