Reach Records artist/co-owner Lecrae recently wrote a response to the "Christian rapper" controversy and more. Here's what he had to say:
The truth is God is still at work!
Thanks to everyone who is downloading and spreading the "Church Clothes" mixtape.
I'm blown away at the response. Itâ€™s humbling and pushes me to keep going.
Back at the beginning of my music, my intention then and now was to enrich and give hope to the listener. I was volunteering at a halfway house and the young men embraced hip hop music that encouraged their low ideals and detrimental perspective. Over the years some, due to their new found faith in God, had their ideals changed and now had few musical offerings.
There were always Christians doing hip hop but the music was usually inaccessible or unpopular. I would listen to the radio and wonder where was the Christians perspective being heard in Hip Hop culture? Not the radio. "Contemporary Christian music" had developed, "Gospel" had its lane but where was hip-hop that articulated faith in Jesus? Hard to find.
Interestingly enough those genres are the only one's categorized based off the content and not the style of music. Though it gives people identifying marks for their music it can also in many ways limit their reach. Many people take these titles to mean this is for an exclusively Christian audience. If indeed the true Gospel is what transforms people outside the faith why should the term Gospel seem exclusively for those in the faith? Of course that's not the intention, it's just a reality that any missionary should consider.
As far as hip hop done well by Christians, there were always a few groups & artists each year that helped ease my woes but I was not at all content. The general market was flooded with Hip Hop artists but I rarely heardanything that embodied a worldview that God would endorse.
Trying to be a part of the solution, I took to the studio and recorded an Album. It captured my southern roots, love for lyricism, and I tried to make it as current in production as I could. (I produced most of it.) The result was a tool for my fellas at the half way house and other areas with similar struggles.
That project opened doors for me to travel a bit, mostly prisons, churches, and inner city outreaches, and perform my songs. I found that I had a gift for catalyzing people toward truth and creating anthems for Christians to live sacrificially and unashamedly for their faith.
Personally I couldnâ€™t simply talk about change I had to be apart of it so I spent my life living in the inner city, doing foreign missions, and serving in the local church. All was ammunition for my Rebel album. My life bled out in that project and the result was God showing tremendous fruit and people's lives being transformed by His power.
One problem I faced was that in my hood, only the kids in after school programs and the Christians were feeling it. Sure some were rejecting the Gospel but others didn't give it a spin at all due to the labels placed on it.
I was respected by my non-religious friends, but my music to them was very limited and didn't speak to any areas of life other than salvation and living right. I sought advice and was led to books by people like Francis
Shaffer, CS Lewis, and others. I was challenged in more ways than you can imagine. (There are links below.)
Desperate to help the lost, broken, and hurting, I tried building relationships with my newfound understanding. It was difficult and awkward but, God showed me plenty of grace.
People came to Jesus and grew deeply, and I found I was liberated and matured in ways I could not articulate.
I'm starting to get it. God hasn't changed my vision, He's expanded it.
Only 4% of all Americans have a biblical worldview and only 10% of Christians see the world with a biblical lens. (There's a test link below to check ya self!)
We tend to have bifocals half seeing things as spiritual and half seeing things as secular or non spiritual.
We limit spirituality to salvation and sanctification. As long as we are well versed in personal piety and individual salvation, we think we're good. But most Christians have no clue how to engage culture in politics, science, economics, TV, music, or art. We tend to leave people to their own devices there.
We subscribe to views like "politics, and movies are evil or of the devil" and we donâ€™t touch them. Which actually leaves them to be dominated by non-biblical worldviews. Or since we donâ€™t have a philosophy or filter we do it the way culture says to, chasing vain ambition.
Most professing Christians have no idea how to direct their careers with biblical lenses but, instead of praying for and offering solutions we usually just shake our head and dismiss these â€śsellouts & compromisersâ€ť.
We are missing out on the gospels power of redemption and glorification in all things.
The whole idea of a secular/sacred divide was born because ancient Greeks (specifically Plato) thought matter (or things) was preexisting and eternal. They thought matter contained the ability to resist the Gods or just God. making it evil. But as Christians we defeat that claim with the doctrine that only God is preexisting and eternal. He is the source of ALL creation.
PSALM 24:1 â€śThe Earth is the Lords and all it containsâ€ť
In Genesis 1 God repeats his creation is good, meaning no part of creation is inherently bad or evil.
Paul in 1 Tim 4:4 says, â€śEverything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
I can already hear people saying, so pornography and crack is good if embraced with thanksgiving!? Obviously no. The origin of objects and God's intended function are what's good, it's man's direction that distorts them. So the origin and function of sex is good but the depravity of man to direct and distort it into pornography is a manifestation of man's darkened heart.
Is there such a thing as evil music? Well the artistâ€™s heart may be evil and because of that you are hearing their heart. Matt 12:34 says out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The heart is the problem not the music. Changed hearts produce changed music.
When Adam and Eve rebelled, they sinned. The trees didnâ€™t sin, the ground didnâ€™t sin, humanity sinned. The natural world was however, affected by human sin. Humans were the housekeepers of Gods creation their sin had a ripple affect into the natural world.
Humanity had authority and there is a consequence for authority. If the owner of a house is lazy the house is going to catch the effect of his laziness. Itâ€™s going to look ragged and filthy. Itâ€™s not that the house wants to look ugly or creepy but the peopleâ€™s sin has affected it. Even if good things fall to the depravity of people.
Evil and disorder are not intrinsic, built in or inherent in material things like art, or dance, or alcohol. The heart is wicked the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9. We take those things and distort them. The human will and volition are rebellious and wrong.
So Paul writes in Romans 14:14 nothing is unclean itself. It becomes unclean when sinners use it to express their rebellion towards God. Then line between good and bad is not in the thing, the music, the movie, the politics, but in the heart.
A butcher knife is usually depicted as an evil murderous tool. But God made the ore and wood and man can use it to make a knife that cuts food and feeds people.
A skull is typically viewed as evil and demonic because humanity has directed there, but God made skulls. We all have them and they are VERY good. They protect our brains! So wearing a skull on your shirt and it doesnâ€™t make you less a Christian even though society has given it negative associations.
All this to say the "secularizing" of things or music would be more the hearts intention on not painting a picture that God would endorse. After all food, music, school buildings are just things. They donâ€™t have a soul or mind and canâ€™t have intentions. The people who are involved in them do.
Worldliness does not mean engaging culture, its when the culture shapes your thoughts over God. Jesus prayed we would remain in the world but protected. He also tells us the gates of Hell will not prevail against us. Gates were established to protect cities and for the gates not to prevail would mean we are trying to storm them. We are here to engage culture not run from it.
Wrestling with worldly ideas challenges us and gives us new ways todepend on God. Is this my new direction? No, itâ€™s just an expansion on what Iâ€™ve already been doing.
Will I continue to write songs like Don't Waste Your Life, or Go Hard? ABSOLUTELY! But after seeing how powerfully God is using my latest efforts I will also write songs to engage culture and speak to things that humanity in general will wrestle with and think on.
So thank you for supporting me and helping the success of the mission and vision. Iâ€™m not concerned at all with being a "star", I got in this to bring hope and thats how I'm going out.