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Pardon The Introduction: Lecrae Talks Being Nominated For A Grammy, Getting Into Christian Rap, And More

Lecrae came onto the hip-hop scene over five years ago with a fresh flow and hard hitting beats. The thing that sets him apart is a different perspective, one based on his faith, rather than the typical subject matter of hip-hop. This year he was nominated for a Grammy for his album Rehab and also received two Dove nominations. Lecrae, now five albums deep, has combined social media and hip-hop music to spread God's message across the globe along with his team of artists on Reach Records. Make no mistake though, he is rooted in hip-hop culture and not a gimmick. VIBE got a chance to chop it up with him to find out more about this MC. --Storm

 


 

Vibe: Talk about how you decided to get into music and was it always a conscious decision to stray from the mainstream topics of hip-hop?

Lecrae: I always loved authentic communicators and rappers. When I was growing up, I loved 2Pac because I felt like everything he said was just real and what he was dealing with. Whether it was positive or negative, he just communicated it from a real place. If it was “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” or “Keep Your Head Up,” or “Dear Mama,” we just got a whole big picture from his heart and soul. As I started rhyming, what I wanted to do [was] just speak from the heart on the things that were real. As the understanding of my faith increased and my lifestyle changed because of my faith, I just wanted to shoot from the hip from a real place and just speak on the things I had seen and dealt with--whether it was positive or negative. Just speak on it in a way that people would understand how I saw the world.

Can you explain if there was one instance or moment that really sparked your decision not to go the path of a traditional MC?  Obviously, you are trailblazer with your decision.

Back in the late 90’s /early 2000’s, my perspective [was] I didn’t grow up in the church. So my thoughts on church were just the little snapshots I had seen, like suits and ties and grandmothers with big hats. So I didn’t really think that somebody like me and Christianity had anything to do with each other. I was in Atlanta and got invited to this conference event and there were young urban Christians. I didn’t know these people existed. Seeing Christians in baggy jeans and Timbs; fitted caps, tattoos and cornrows. I didn’t even know this world existed.That was a defining moment for me and I just learned that there weren’t any rules and regulations; it was just a heart issue. My values changed because my heart changed, so my music changed. It was a process, it wasn’t just like overnight, like all of a sudden everything I wrote was coming from the Bible, and still that’s not the way I tend to do it. But it was a moment then in seeing these guys that I said I don‘t have to do this, I can do something different. So that was the route I took, and I didn’t look back.

Was there ever a point where you had doubts or were thinking about doing something else?

Not really. Yeah , you face a lot of opposition like the church and the people in the church are like, 'nah we don’t accept this as worldly, this is not ok.' And people in the hip-hop community are like 'nah man this seems kind of weird. This is like corny, we don’t do this type of stuff.' I think when people really started checking it out, they were like 'this is real; I really do appreciate this perspective.' So it just motivated me and inspired me to keep going. It would almost be like denying my race or ethnicity, by denying my faith. So I couldn’t just talk about stuff that wasn’t true to who I was. It would be like every song I was to write is about being a white rapper and I’m not a white rapper [laughs] It just wouldn’t make sense! I couldn’t do anything different.

Talk about how you developed your flow and style.

I always appreciated different types of hip-hop. I lived everywhere because we moved around a lot. I’ve lived in California, Denver, Dallas, and now I’m in Atlanta. I’ve just gained an appreciation for so many types of hip-hop, so it was just like my world was mashed up. I grew up with Nas on my playlist, then I would flip the script and you would hear 3 6 Mafia, then you would hear Biggie, then you would hear Sugarfree. It was just this weird hodge podge of music. I think it’s what made my music into what it was. It’s really not having a particular home so it was like hip-hop became my home, and all the different styles and so forth just became how I patterned my music and it is what it is today.

How important is a positive outlook and message needed, especially in 2011?

I think it’s crucial. I think anytime you open your mouth, you’re teaching somebody. You’re teaching them something. Even when you don’t open your mouth, just by the things you do, you‘re teaching somebody. So I learned to do a lot of things without somebody having to tell me how to do something; I just watched. We have a responsibility as humans, especially as young men; we have a responsibility to be a role model and to lead people in a particular direction. We need balance. We need some war stories and pain and struggle but we don’t necessarily need to glorify that. We need to talk about how you overcome those hard circumstances.

How do you feel about being the blueprint to an up-and-coming younger artist who wants to rap but want to do Christian rap?

I think there are a lot of trailblazers, and most of the people that have trail blazed have been looked upon as 'what are you doing?' or were frowned upon. Even when Kanye was first trying to come out and they were like 'nah, polos and good guy and college dropout stuff that’s not what’s prevalent in hip-hop at the time.' And then you have a guy like Drake who comes out and he’s straight from the suburbs and he’s all emotional, and then you have B.O.B who goes left field and does a little rock and pop. I think there is always room for diversity within hip-hop and diverse perspectives as well; I think it’s just some perspectives are frowned upon for whatever reason, but if that’s you and that’s really who you are then you have to be authentic and you have to keep pushing.


Explain the experience performing at some of the faith-based events, which sometimes garner larger crowds than typical rap shows.

We hit the road and have done tours; we’ve done our own tour and you’ve got 5,000 people in the crowd who know every word to every song from California to New York. These aren’t necessarily churches either. We’re at some small stadiums, colleges, House of Blues, so on and so forth. There’s a following and a demand. The demographic looks like if you were at a B.O.B show or a Lupe Fiasco show in terms of people in the crowd. The content obviously is aimed differently; the motivation and the values is different, the world view is different. Some people don’t see things from that perspective; they just enjoy the music so they come. What we’re about isn’t bashing people or condemning people or putting anyone down; that‘s not our goal. We’re about painting a picture of a different reality and hoping people see that and walk away transformed and changed by it.

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Oprah And Jason Momoa Have Apple TV Projects On The Way

Yesterday (March 25) was a big moment in the tech and entertainment worlds. Apple hosted their "It's Showtime" event to share their newest streaming service AppleTV+ and the new slate of programming that will live on it. In addition to digital editions of print magazines, the platform will include content from a host of different providers, two of whom include Oprah Winfrey and Jason Momoa.

While she already hosts a various successful shows on her OWN channel, why not continue to do so with AppleTV+? During her moments on stage in Cupertino, Calif., Oprah unveiled two new documentaries on poignant topics of right now. One centers around sexual harassment and assault within the workplace, tentatively titled Toxic Labor. The second project (which is still untitled) is a multipart series more geared towards mental health and how depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, addiction, trauma and loss affects lives on a global scale. Additionally, the entertainment behemoth will reportedly also reintroduce her infamous Book Club on the streaming service in a fresh way, including with original author interviews.

Actor Jason Momoa, who starred in Aquaman, also has some fun offerings for AppleTV+. His new show See, where he co-stars with Alfre Woodard, is slated to appear on the service. The scripted series was described by attendees of the Apple event as "a futuristic fantasy saga about a world in which people are blind and where sight is so long gone that it's questioned if it even existed."

 

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APPLE TV+. It’s an honour to be on this show. Greatest work I’ve ever done. Truly blessed can’t wait for the world to SEE. Aloha j.

A post shared by Jason Momoa (@prideofgypsies) on Mar 25, 2019 at 1:44pm PDT

Stay tuned for programming developments and announcements as they come.

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Buju Banton performs at the Benefit Party after the NY Benefit Premiere of 'The Agronomist' on April 13, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Eells/Getty Images)

Buju Banton Explains Why He Removed Controversial Song "Boom Bye Bye" From Catalog

Reggae icon Buju Banton is urging fans to lead with love by permanently banning the breakout hit "Boom Bye Bye" from his catalog.

News of the move recirculated after his Long Walk To Freedom comeback concert earlier this month when fans noticed the artist didn't perform his 1992 classic. Banton was released from prison earlier this year after serving a seven-year sentence related to drug charges.

The song, which includes a sample of Cobra's "Flex," includes anti-gay lyrics like "Boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head/Rude bwoy nah promote no nasty man, dem haffi dead," which in patios means shooting a gay man in the head. In the past, Banton has pointed out that he was 15-years-old when he wrote the song, which was originally about a pedophile who was caught molesting young boys in Banton's neighborhood in Jamaica.

“In recent days there has been a great deal of press coverage about the song "Boom Bye Bye" from my past which I long ago stopped performing and removed from any platform that I control or have influence over,” Banton told Urban Islandz. Banton hasn't performed the song since 2007 but decided to speak out once again about the track.

“I recognize that the song has caused much pain to listeners, as well as to my fans, my family and myself. After all the adversity we’ve been through I am determined to put this song in the past and continue moving forward as an artist and as a man. I affirm once and for all that everyone has the right to live as they so choose. In the words of the great Dennis Brown, ‘Love and hate can never be friends.’ I welcome everyone to my shows in a spirit of peace and love. Please come join me in that same spirit.”

In the past week, the song has been removed from streaming services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music. The video, which reached nearly 30 million views on YouTube, was also removed from his account.

Banton's move to mute the song in 2007 was in solidarity with the Reggae Compassionate Act under the Stop Murder Music Campaign. The legislation introduced by the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group was also supported by other reggae icons like Beanie Man, Bounty Killer and Capleton in an effort to bring an end to homophobic lyrics and attacks against the LGBTQ community in Carribean islands. At the time, artists faced backlash for not performing the songs since other tracks like "Boom Bye Bye" became crossover hits.

Jamrock Sound principal Hugh ‘Redman’ James also defended Banton's decision to axe the song from his catalog. "I go to all the rehearsals and he don’t do that song, he don’t rehearse that song,” James said. “That is the song that kinda shoot him a bit, so him bury up that.”

The track may have brought Banton public fanfare in the 90s, but other tracks like "Action," "Wanna Be Loved" and "Untold Stories" have solidified his legacy and growth.

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Rico Nasty attends John Elliott in Front Row at February 2019 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Yuchen Liao/Getty Images)

Rico Nasty To Release 'Anger Management' LP In April

Rico Nasty allowed much time to go by without new music. Since the release of her debut album Nasty last year, the rapper has released a steady amount of singles and slayed guest spots on tracks with Doja Cat and Amine. Now the 21-year-old is ready to drop another LP perfectly titled, Anger Management. 

On Sunday (March 24), Rico hopped on Instagram Live to share the news. A date hasn't been put in place but she assured that the project will "probably come out in April." Like many of her projects, Rico will team up with producer extraordinaire Kenny Beats. Rico revealed how she wants fans "to really enjoy it" as she will jump into different sounds and styles.

From what Rico disclosed in her Instagram Live, Anger Management will feature guest spots from Earthgang and "Intro part 2" rapper Splurge.

The "Countin' Up'" artist has always been unique in her style and comfortable in her own skin. Nasty, which was featured on our EOY lists last year, showed how successful Rico is at mixing trap and pop. Seems like fans can expect the same magic this time around.

Rico was most recently at SXSW and will perform at Coachella in April.

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NEW COLLAB PROJECT WITH @kennybeats (THE WHITE MAN) Called ANGER MANAGEMENT Coming Soon COMMENT an ANGRY EMOJI IF YOU ARE READY TO RELIEVE SOME STRESS 👺👹😡🤬

A post shared by TACOBELLA (@riconasty) on Mar 25, 2019 at 9:08am PDT

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