We Just Lost One: Bye Lecrae

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. After all, as he once said, “If I was a plumber, I wouldn’t say ‘I’m a Christian plumber’”. Touché! I can totally respect that perspective.

But here’s the thing: 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. So what does he really mean by, “I’m not a Gospel rapper” and “My music isn’t Christian” when he, himself, once told the Church AND the world:

That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes
That’s why it’s Christ all the time
See my whole world is built around Him
He’s the life in my lines

— Lecrae, "Don't Wast Your Life" (2008)

That’s how he introduced himself to us. So, as I prepare to fall back on the kid and officially bid the new Lecrae adieu, I wanted to at least express where many of his original fans are coming from that he might understand why it’s taken us so long to accept his new direction - a direction he might call "growth" yet so many of us discern is regression (S.A.T. word for "falling away"). 

Now, I understand he's been positioning his movement away from the “Christian” label as merely a departure from a specific music genre.  Yet, it is evident he's also departing from the Christian mission - a mission that HE originally told us he was on. And while he still professes to be a Christian by faith, I’d posit that he's also departing from that as well.

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. As a result, we were rooting for him! We were ALL rooting for him!!! (*Tyra Banks voice*)  We only expected him do what HE told us he would, and we only held him to a standard HE professed he’d uphold. We didn’t expect perfection; only honesty and clarity. And our concerns, corrections and critiques mostly came when it became increasingly unclear to us what he was doing.  Lecrae and his die hards are quick to paint those of us genuinely concerned for him as old, prudish judgmental church folk who just don’t "get it". But nah, son. That ain’t it. Speaking for myself, I’m actually younger than Lecrae - like by a whole 9 months! I also didn’t grow up in the church. And I just "got back right" with God about two years ago. This isn’t a generational disconnect. This isn't a battle between old time 'ligion pharisaical legalism and new school grace. This is a communication breakdown. Something or someone, somewhere was misrepresented. Intentions were either misread or someone was misled.

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". I'm writing from the perspective of a fan and a concerned sister in Christ, so this piece is long, and it contains a blend of frustration, admiration, encouragement and rebuke. But, ultimately, this is me outlining some of the key areas in which Lecrae has compromised over the years and why these compromises have led me to believe it's time to bid him farewell as his fan and as his sister in Christ.