The 116 Life Ep. 9: Lecrae, the end of an era!
Reach Records co-founder Lecrae is kicking off 2023 strong. After a college tour with Hulvey, and filming a movie in Spain, Lecrae returns home to gear up for his Church Clothes 4 tour.
Unsure of what exactly the future holds, Lecrae says God is preparing him, “I feel like God is doing something and there’s a unique change on the rise. We’re in this era right now where artists are curating via social media a lot. That’s where voices are being heard. But at the same time, you have to figure out where you fit into that.”
Partnering with artists outside of rap, not only to collaborate on a record, but the veteran emcee is also adamant about inviting those artists on tour with him. “I think it’s important because I have a variety of listeners. I’m like a Drake or Kanye. They’re rappers. But they’re more than rappers. So, you’re not shocked when they are on the road with someone who’s not a rapper. That’s a little bit of what I bring to the table.”
Lecrae, who in his own words, has dabbled in pop, gospel, afro beats; pretty much every subgenre of hip hop. “I just like putting people on. There was a young artist named Ambre who I took out on the road. I seen her at the Roc Nation Brunch.”
Lecrae’s Church Clothes 4 Tour
With a 20-year catalog under his belt, how does Lecrae choose what songs to include in his set list? “The upside is you’ve been on the road for so long that you know the ones that you have to play. So that’s what we start with. You don’t touch them; you just reimagine them. I’m personally tired of performing it. So, let’s reimagine it so that it’s exciting to me which will then make it exciting to the viewer,” he explains.
This Church Clothes tour finds Lecrae at a crossroads. “There’s a finality to it. You’re not going to this level of curation from me on my tour. I may do shows in the future. I don’t know if I’ll create another tour again. If you don’t catch it, you missed it!” Touring he explains takes a lot of energy and is not conducive to family life.
Although access to music distribution has never been easier, the downside of social media is that appearances are often times deceiving. “A lot of young artists have curated themselves via social media to look bigger than they are. So, there’s a hesitancy to look small when you’re on the road,” says Lecrae.
Recalling his early days on tour with the Cross Movement, he didn’t care. “I’m pulling for 10 people in Oklahoma and I’m giving them the show of their life. And guess what happens the next time I come to Oklahoma? It’s 50 people! The next time I come it’s 200 people. I wasn’t worried about looking a certain way for social media or whatever. You can’t be too proud to pull up grimy! You can’t be too big for your britches.”
His advice for upcoming Christian Hip Hop artists is, “Stop chasing the soft money! When you’re selling a ticket, that’s hard ticket sales. A soft ticket is when you go to a club or a church. People start taking all of those gigs because sometimes they pay better.” The danger in that is that the audience is coming for the event, not necessarily the artist. “Get the hard ticket sales even if it means only 60 people showed up! You’re building. And then over time, it will grow.”
Admittedly there is a financial risk when you are investing in yourself. “I went to see Kanye’s Yeezy tour. This man spent $4 million dollars every night and it gave some simulation of God. If he can spend $4 million dollars, I can spend the bag to really give them Jesus! Anomaly was doing well. Overall, I spent a million dollars on that tour. I knew every night the word of God was going forth. People were going to hear Jesus. And lives would be impacted. I did not make a million dollars back. It was an L financially. For me, it was an investment, in people, the brand, the music, and the experience,” asserts Lecrae.
The 40-something-year-old rapper, as we heard on Deconstruction is still growing. “What I’m learning is that there’s still room to be excited. I think God is reminding me of that. After Restoration, I thought; after everything went through with All Things Work Together and the sociopolitical climate, I really thought I was done! Don’t nobody want to hear music from me no more. I’m almost shocked that people are still engaged and interested in hearing from me.”
Don’t worry, the emcee who introduced the mainstream to Christian Hip Hop insists he will not be retiring. He’ll be directing his focus elsewhere. He’s interest will now shift to helping and investing in new artists.
Related Radio Show: 116 Life