Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:26:49
"I'm feeling alright," smiles Lecrae.
He's got every reason to feel good too. Hot off a successful headline tour and number one album, Anomaly, Lecrae is, to put it simply, on fire. He deserves it though. Not only has he put in the work over the past years, he's delivered a timeless album in the form of Anomaly that elevates hip-hop with a message in its own way. It's as inspiring as it is infectious, and that's what makes it one of the year's best.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Lecrae talks Anomaly and so much more.
Did you approach Anomaly with one overarching vision?
I definitely wanted to do that. There was picture I wanted painted. I created a lot of music to paint certain pieces of the picture. We just took the songs that made the most sense and were the strongest in that piece of the story and used them. Every song is a bit like footage, and we chose the best footage and put them in those slots.
What was the picture you wanted to paint?
I wanted people to see that all of us, at some point in time, struggle with a sense of significance, identity, and where we fit in. That’s a wrestle we either admit to or we don’t admit to. Most of the actions we say on a day-to-day basis are based on fear or insecurity. I think once you embrace who you are—not in a narcissistic way, but more in a realistic way—you realize, “I am different. God made me unique”. You walk in that. There’s a confidence in that. You realize maybe you’re different for a specific purpose, “Let me live in that purpose and flesh it out”. That’s the story I wanted to tell for people.
How do you strike the balance between what’s going on musically and what you’re saying lyrically? There’s a cohesion.
One aspect is, I want to tell a story, but I want the music to be a good backdrop for the story like scenery. It sets up the scene, paints the picture well, and serves as the soundtrack. That soundtrack brings out that inspiration. I try to start by finding the inspiration for the story before I start telling. When I do it that way, it doesn’t feel forced, and I’m not trying to match a production to a story I already have told.
What’s the story behind “Broken” [featuring Kari Jobe]?
Once you realize you are broken, that you’re not perfect, and you do need grace, love, community, and forgiveness, then you’re in a healthy place. When you’re self-righteous and you think you’ve got it all together and figured out, there’s no way you can really be useful. You’re the source of all your significance. When you realize, “It’s not just about me. The world doesn’t revolve around me, and I have pains and hurts”, then you come to a healthy place. Healed people can heal people. Hurt people hurt people. Once you come to that place of healthy, now you can be a messenger of hope and healing because you’ve been through the pain and the agony of brokennesss, and you’ve reached a place where you embrace healing and now you can go forward and do that for other people.
Where did “Messengers” [featuring For King & Country] come from?
“Messengers” is the evidence of healing. “Messengers” is the evidence that we’re not just arbitrarily on this planet. We’re not just here for no reason. There are people who need to experience and taste the healing and the love we’ve tasted. There are people who need to taste the grace and forgiveness we’ve been given. We see the evidence of that every day from what happens around the world every day. You see it in servicemen to what’s happened in Iraq, Israel, and Palestine. People need to experience love, forgiveness, and healing.
You don’t hold back at all here.
It’s definitely my most personal album I’ve ever done. I think leaders lead in vulnerability. Everyone’s got skeletons in the closet that they’re scared they won’t be accepted anymore if those are revealed. So, when you play all of your cards, it makes everyone a little more comfortable dealing with their own things.
What about “Say I Won’t” [featuring Andy Mineo]?
It’s the fun of saying, “Listen, man”. I think a lot of times entertainers try to carry themselves in this impenetrable picture of perfection. I’m going to break the status quo. Say I won’t. I don’t care. I’m a dad. I don’t mind being a dad, “Look at all of these shoes I’ve got. I’ve got an incredible shoe collection. I’ll sell them all and take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese. I don’t care. It’s not that serious. Let’s enjoy life”. That’s what it’s about.
Was it important for you to make the album diverse and include all of the ups and downs of life?
I think so. That’s what life is. Life is not just a dark mood day, nor is it bright and sunshine with birds chirping all the time. You have both kinds of days and all those kinds of emotions. I wanted to give people the soundtrack for whatever day they were having. I wanted you to be able to have whatever time you’re experiencing sonically.
When did the title Anomaly hit you?
Anomaly came about when we were wrestling with what it means to be an outsider. It’s almost like this intentionality in being an outsider. It’s not like you’re an outcast and you go, “Oh well”. It’s like, “Listen, man. I’m actually going to embrace being an outcast and deviate from what’s normal on purpose”. An outcast feels more like people pushed you out. It does happen, but Anomaly is more like, “Whether they push me out or not, I’m going to be me. I’m going to be different. That’s the way it’s going to be”.
It’s a statement encouraging everybody to embrace their own individuality.
Exactly! That’s the point. I want people to embrace their uniqueness and individuality and realize you are uniquely crafted and to walk in that sense of uniqueness instead of feeling like you have to conform.
If Anomaly were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I think I would mix in The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings (Film Series). I say The Matrix because Neo had to learn and understand who he was and how he’s unique. Then, he could walk firmly in The Matrix without fear or hesitation. The Lord of the Rings has a mission, but it’s not a superhero getting the mission accomplished. It’s actually an unlikely small hobbit who has an affinity for a ring that’s getting the job done. That’s a lot like myself—this unlikely person used in unique ways.
What are you most excited about with Reach Records?
I’m really excited. We’re just in a great season. We’re all maturing. We’re all a lot more confident. We know the world is watching more than they used to. That added pressure is healthy for us. It’s not in the “We have to perform” kind of way, it’s more like, “This isn’t frivolous and trivial” so we want to put our best foot forward. There’s a lot of great energy inside the Reach camp right now.
It seems like you really are a family…
It’s difficult at times to maintain a family atmosphere as you get bigger and things move faster, but whenever we get the opportunity, we fight really hard to foster that environment and give ways to talk through issues and not just gossip amongst each other or about each other. We’ll do retreats. We’ll do little gatherings. We’ll bring lots of things to bring that camaraderie and unity together.
Have you been reading anything that’s inspired you lately?
I read a book called Culture Making by a guy named Andy Crouch. It was pretty profound. It was really helpful for me in terms of wanting to impact the culture. Especially me being a Christian, there’s a hesitation or bias against me because of a preconceived idea of what I’m about or I may say. He walks through a lot of people’s perceptions and how to use your gifts to be of aid to society and culture without coming across as this judgmental, biased, and prude individual people may think you are.
Because of that, the mainstream has come to you.
I’m very appreciative. I think people respect authenticity. When you’re just being yourself and it’s not a gimmick, that resonates. That’s part of it. It’s also something I wanted to remain true to as well.
What's your favorite song from Anomaly?