I know what you’re thinking after reading the title: “Oh great, another Christian fanboy who thinks he’s trendy because he listens to rap.” I couldn’t blame you either. Over the past decade, Lecrae and his lineup of artists at Reach Records (Andy Mineo, Trip Lee, Tedashii, KB, & GAWVI) have appealed to a Christian audience due in part to their intense lyricism, smooth production, and explicit Christian themes.
Thus, the Christian subculture is a steady market for Lecrae. As his career and record label has risen, it’s become vogue to be a Christian and listen to Lecrae. You know how it goes…
I discovered Lecrae’s music back in middle school on a recommendation from a YWAM (Youth with a Mission) volunteer. My first thought was, “How do you even spell Lecrae?” But when I checked him out, I was drawn to his authentic lyricism and deep well of poetic expression.
Lecrae’s songs contained lines about love, death, depression, heartbreaks, and every emotion in between. He combined fluid lines with engaging storytelling ability in his songs, and before long, I was a fan. The themes in his music appealed not only to me as a Christian, but to any listener, regardless of values or beliefs.
I’ve kept up with Lecrae and the rest of the Reach Records artists since then, and listening to their albums has given me a few unintended literary lessons.
First, the wordplay packed into Lecrae’s tracks taught me the importance of experimenting with language in my own writing— seeing how I could incorporate irony, figurative language, and wordplay as a way to set the mood and tone. Here’s an example…
You dream of bein’ a king but you watchin’ the wrong Martin, Bruh Man
This ain’t the fifth floor, it’s the penthouse
Either you change your outlook or get out
And life ain’t never been a dream, you just oversleepin’
If it wasn’t hard work, they probably cheatin’
Give that arrogance some rest
This ain’t happen overnight, that’s why I do this thing to death
I might do this ’till I’m deaf, dumb and blind
You know I don’t need my eyes to see my faith working fine
-Lecrae, “Sidelines” Church Clothes Vol. 3
Second, in these few lines, Lecrae uses vivid imagery as well to indicate the deeper truth he intends for the track. Sometimes, I’ll listen to his songs so I can get my mind flowing. I’ll have a topic, and after listening to a song, I’ve got my mind in a state where I can churn out ideas for images or scenes.
Third, another rapper signed to Reach Records, Andy Mineo, showed me the power of compact storytelling. He and the other artists at Reach Records have the ability to communicate powerful messages in 2-4 minute track. With a short story, I have a similar constraint, and by listening to tracks, it reinforces the need for brevity in my writing, especially at a story’s end.
When we feel like we don’t need God, then we forget Him
We tell ’em that, if you don’t make me money or make me happy
Then I ain’t makin’ time for ya’, so make it snappy
And I think lately you mistake me for a cabby
‘Cause this drive that I got put everybody in the backseat
So if you wanna live a comfortable life
Make sure you never love nobody, be selfish and never sacrifice
Andy Mineo “Uncomfortable,” Uncomfortable
So thanks, Lecrae and Reach Records. I never thought rappers could be unintentional English professors.
Author’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of articles that will chart the progress I’m making on writing a short story. The story will be part of a larger Geneva College project in which students from Dr. Williams’s ENG 344 Publishing compile their short stories into a published collection for the campus. Check us out on Facebook under “Geneva Inklings.”
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.