Nobody ever said reclaiming the culture for Christendom was going to be easy. It takes a lot of hard work and gritty forbearance to convince yourself that your sixth-rate Daily Show knockoff podcast is the ontological equal of the Chronicles of Narnia. And let me tell you something, Christians: if you are blessed to have within your sheepcote a near-celebrity willing to associate with the church via the most tenuous of threads, you had best do everything in your power to pamper him, to make him feel loved and needed, and to not bruise his tender self-esteem, lest you lose him to the demonic realm! Otherwise, whose image are you going to project on your high-definition pulpit screen come Sunday morn? Your own? Don’t make me laugh.
Thus the mindset of Christian sycophants who have come to accept Mammon as a benevolent publicist. And thus their continued embracing and whitewashing of the vainglorious cretin Lecrae, the churchy hip-hop artiste for whom the white Reformed community has bent over backward to provide accolades and a comfortable living. The fact that he routinely bites the hand that feeds him is one to which this community is willingly oblivious.
So you can well imagine the falsetto chorus of ‘Oh noooo!’ the Bland Bunch vocalized upon learning that they were about to receive a giant kiss-off from the Judas who once was their protege. (A black Judas? Well, there is a precedent for that.) Promoting his upcoming album, Lecrae sat down with that legit ‘zine of all things street cred Forbes and declared that, while his whole Christian demeanor is very nice and all, it was still preventing him from spreading his musical wings and soaring like a raven and that, basically, he is getting ready to dump the entire charade:
Lecrae: The history of me making music… because I came independently and did it with my friends. We were bastardized from every genre of music. No one was gospel or Christian. It was like, “What is this?” We are all rapping, hip-hop and just doing it outside of the industry for so long. The only people who initially said “We’ll touch them,” was the contemporary Christian market who’d already been through the Switchfoot and Relient K type of stuff, so it wasn’t a big deal for them. We were like, “Alright, cool. If you guys want to take this on tour, we’ll go.” I think that’s what allowed people to be introduced to us, from that vantage point.
McIntyre: You’ve obviously done well for yourself, but do you think that label eventually turned from beneficial to detrimental?
Lecrae: As far as it identifying my genre, absolutely. As far as identifying my faith, no. I mean that’s just who you are. But, genre, yes. I think every artist reaches a place where they want to transcend genre. Beyoncé’s gone through that. Prince and Michael Jackson, too. It’s like “Hey, I’m more than R&B. I’m more than this category that you’ve put me in.”
I’m not a country music fan, so if you slide me some music and say, “You gotta check this out, it’s country,” I’m going to be a little hesitant to listen and I think if someone says, “Hey, you gotta listen to this guy rap, he’s Christian,” you’re like, “I don’t identify as Christian so not really sure I want to listen to that.”
But it’s more about my worldview than about what the songs… It’s more about my personal faith than it is about how the songs are being rolled out.
So thank you very much, Christian Whitey, for providing Lecrae with a venue to express his ‘faith’ and to acquire monetary gain in doing so, but as he doesn’t need you anymore, and you always were kinda lame-ass, it’s time for him to dump you ignominiously in the ditch and move on. See yuh, wouldn’t wanna be yuh. You would think this would leave just the slightest tang of resentment in the mouths of his white fan base, but their tolerance of masochism is limitless. Regarding this much-anticipated album, a white fan wrote on Lecrae’s Facebook page, a mere two hours prior to the time of this writing:
Lecrae: first off, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your music has influenced my life in a major way for the past year…I had an encounter last summer and was saved, thanks be to God, and am now a baptized member of my local church with an ever growing faith. I have also re united with my six year old son and my family, and the blessings keep piling up. I have always been a hip hop head, but after finding your music, (the first C.D I heard was real talk) I instantly fell in love with it and it has had a major impact in the nourishing of my faith. I have been able to go through your whole catalogue, and heard your growth from real talk through anomaly (rebel is utterly amazing) and I can say that you are my favorite rapper by far (not to take away from Andy, trip, and tedashii etc…) I have also purchased and read your book unashamed, and it was amazing to read your journey and relate to it in many ways. I hope that you do a show in Vancouver soon, I will definitely be there. Thank you for helping me live unashamed of the gospel. 116 forever, God Bless! P.S – a response or even a like on this would mean a lot to me!
The cringing servility documented in the closing sentence of this hosannah is particularly galling, isn’t it?
This is not to suggest that our very own Tupac is getting an entirely free pass, however. His blatant opportunism is being denounced from the one group allowed to deal with him on a non-congratulatory level – his own kind. One of the few critical Lecrae pieces you are likely to stumble across is a multi-part analysis of his superfluous character and worldview entitled “We Just Lost One: Bye Lecrae”, written by a black Christian woman. Her opening words admirably expose him for the phony testator he is and always has been:
Lecrae is not a Christian rapper. He’s said this time and time again since about 2012. For many in the Church, however, this has been a tough proclamation to grasp. But it’s high time we finally accept it. It’s time for those of us who have been clinging to him to let him go and instead embrace the fact that Lecrae is free to do and be called whatever he wishes. If removing the “Christian” label from his identity is what he really wants to do, I say we fall all the way back and let him do it…
… Lecrae previously indicated his music wasn’t merely his vocation. He presented it as his ministry. On numerous occasions he claimed his ultimate goal was to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His favorite Bible verse, Romans 1:16, and his music told us he was unashamed of the Gospel. He said he would tell the world about Jesus EVERYWHERE he’d go…
It’s been disappointing and frustrating to watch Lecrae defiantly tell the Church that WE put him in a box; that WE are expecting too much of him; that WE are overly critical of him and that WE just “don’t get him”. But, from where I sit, HE is equally (if not fully) culpable for this ongoing contention. We didn’t box him in. We embraced him because he said, and originally bore fruit which suggested, that he was 100% one of us and with us…
Those of us who aren’t really buying what the “new Lecrae” is selling aren’t judgmental old fogies who just can’t process the mystery of Lecrae’s renegade genius. We’re discerning, sober-minded men and women of God who are paying attention to everything he’s been saying and doing, and we have noted mixed messages. Lecrae is not that “complex and nuanced”. Lecrae is simply one who compromises – a lot! One might even say he’s “lukewarm” or “double-minded”. But I’ll let you guys be the judge of that as you review this very detailed, multi-part “goodbye”.
Good stuff, and necessary for him to hear. Tis a pity, then, that this is far and away the high point of her analysis. The rest of her spiel is the same old tired cliches about how Lecrae doesn’t speak for Christian rap muzak, how that genre is such a powerful witnessing tool, perhaps the greatest that fallen man could ever have concocted, etc. One can only ponder how it was that our forebears ever came to a realization of their debased nature and their need for a Savior without the aid of a rhythmic Congolese chant emanating from a boombox, or the current year’s technological variation thereof.
By its very structure, rap is irreconcilable with Christianity. The African, in conjunction with his ordained role as the servant of servants, glorifies God in his gift of physicality. Conversely, though, he has also always been especially susceptible to violent passions of covetousness – passions intensified by a rather limited sense of self-control, or even self-preservation. A black man naturally engorges his lust by rhythmic preparation of his flesh – thus the necessarily ferocious gyrations of the Zulu war chant, to cite just one example. Ergo, his preferences in popular culture have always radiated that feral driving pulsation, and hip-hop represents the acme of that mindset, geared as it is towards ghetto youths determined to YOLO as much as possible in between their short stints outside of an otherwise lifelong prison term. The entire genre is predicated on the celebration of ‘getting while the getting’s good’. Thus the lyrical braggadocio of the number of ‘bitches and hos’ with whom the minstrel has fornicated, the imagery of muscle cars, gaudy bling, and dollar bills falling from the heavens that have become rap video cliches, the puerile yet vicious ‘gangsta creed’ girding all this avarice together in an attempt to cloak it in some sort of rough-hewn honor, etc.
How can Christianity be reconciled to this witches’ brew of voodoo ritual and Crowleyan ‘do what thou wilt’ occult hedonism? It can’t. Christian rap is every bit of an oxymoron as Christian pornography. The only logical conclusion to be drawn is that if Lecrae felt compelled to become a rapper, he was never a Christian to begin with. Oh sure, he made some feeble attempts to present himself as a critic of mainstream secular rap, but he quickly discovered that in today’s Motown equivalent (MoFoTown?), where ‘keepin’ it real’ counts for so much, if you don’t present yourself as a full-bore thug you’re taken about as seriously as Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff. This is unacceptable to Our Hero, who fancies himself the next Kanye after having a few Grammys bestowed upon his rather pallid shoulders. One thing I’ll say: he definitely has the ego required of all A-list hip hoppers. He has mastered the lackadaisical attitude and look of bored ennui favoured among the more effeminate of that worthy caste. To the uninitiated, his sad half-closed eyes resemble those of a terrier tenderly pushing a meatball with his nose towards his cocker spaniel love. Of course, such a look actually signifies his belief that the Man should pay him handsomely for stealing all of the Man’s daughters and impregnating them, because of slav’ry n’ blackface n’ separate drinking fountains n’ s**t. Think that’s racist? Let us not forget the now-infamous tweet Lecrae raised all our consciences with last July Fourth:
My family on July 4th 1776. pic.twitter.com/R9DzWkqDWc
— Lecrae (@lecrae) July 4, 2016
If Lecrae gets to work representin’ on the nearest street corner that a talent scout just happens to be driving past so that he can be discovered, there’s no reason such pretentious asshattery should not be amply rewarded.
Further casting doubts on Lecrae’s much-heralded faith is his career-long tendency to participate in a type of individual modalism, with his repeated insistence that he is not involved in the Christian rap genre, but is a Christian who happens to rap. He believes such sophistry allows him to break free of the confinement in the CCM box in which his fan base has placed him, but in reality it merely serves to announce that his services are for sale to the highest bidder. Congrats on refusing to be compartmentalized, Lecrae! You are a member of an eclectic freemasonry there, by gum: Simon Magus, Voltaire, Aleister Crowley, and Hunter S. Thompson are only a handful of the illustrious names you can proudly call brethren. He has attempted to reassure his Christian base that, if you listen really really hard you can ‘hear evidence of my faith in my music’, but anybody who doesn’t recognize that as a cop-out is probably the type that listens to rap in the first place. Lecrae, m’man, Milton, Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, Taylor Caldwell, and so on were not ashamed about penning outspokenly Christian works, and those works have stood the test of time. How come you’re playing coy? Are you more sophisticated than they are? And partake of a little humble pie: I hardly think your magnum opus “All I Need Is You” is ever likely to be listed alongside Paradise Lost as one of the epochal Christian cultural landmarks, so you might do well reading up on the Peter Principle and how it increasingly applies to your career, mmkay?
All of this compelling evidence pointing towards Lecrae’s total apostasy, of course, will make little difference to his most rabid of all devotees. I speak here not of his original fanclub of millennials – a group notorious as much for their fickleness as for their awesomely poor taste in music and who probably ditched him five years ago anyway and embraced something nifty like Christian vaporwave. No, I speak here of old Reformed fools like John Piper and John MacArthur, eager to jump on any and every ‘youth’ bandwagon they can, and probably under the impression there is little differentiation between Lecrae’s juvenile nursery rhymes and Stalinist Paul Robeson’s baritone rendition of ‘Ol’ Man River’. Theirs is a purely visceral attachment – the heartburning do-gooderism of those too old to adopt a Somalian orphan to put on display like a new hat during the Easter parade. They will continue their disgusting petting and purring over his unworthy hide – doubtless punctuated with teary affirmations of ‘You’re like a son to me!’ – at least until his sullenness and ingratitude ultimately saddens them beyond all hope of return and they start begging Voddie Baucham to start bustin’ a wack lyric or two so they can fawn over his newfound creative virtuosity.
And if Lecrae insists on calling his Christianity into question, through what lens should we be viewing his checkered past? Two years ago, he went public with Piper and another credulous ninny about the great remorse he felt over pressuring his girlfriend into getting an abortion in 2002. After his emulsion of all the right talking points – ‘broke down over the guilt and remorse’, ‘the liberation of public confession’, ‘it takes a strong man to admit weakness’, ‘by God’s grace, I am here’, etc. – Piper was reduced to tears, a task admittedly somewhat easier than, say, teaching newly-hatched ants how to crawl. Fortuitously, this raw bearing of soul happened to coincide with the release of his album Animosity, which debuted at #1 on Billboard and contained a track called ‘Good Bad Ugly’ that dealt with this same incident. Now, far be it from me to make light of any man’s genuine confession of his sin. However, if Lecrae insists on putting careerism before his supposed Savior by the likes of hobnobbing with hip-hop practitioners of the occult arts like Jay-Z, then raising a few questions as to the sincerity of his past very public repentance is not out of line. Bill Clinton proved that the ‘I’m only human’ bit could be funnelled into a very lucrative career in the public eye, and with Lecrae pushing the periphery of middle age, perhaps he’s thinking similar thoughts. So much for glorifying God in the calling He has (supposedly) placed you in. Go your way unto carnality, sir, and let us hear from you no more.
A word of warning before you go, though. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul, expounding on his liberation from legalism in Christ, declares, ‘All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.’ If you still fancy yourself a follower of Christ, you had better start realizing what an ass your insouciance makes you look like, and that the (((moguls))) to whom you are about to harness yourself irrevocably are far harsher taskmasters than our God. Peace out.