Last night at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards Lecrae Moore won “Best Gospel Album” for “Gravity” released on September 4, 2012.
While many other artists earned awards last night, Lecrae’s win is a departure from the norm. Few other Christian Hip Hop (CHH) artists have been honored with a Grammy, and never has such an artist gained so much widespread recognition in both Christian and secular arenas.
Lest we move too quickly past this moment, here are few implications of Lecrae winning his first Grammy award.
1. Lecrae’s Grammy Recognizes Him as an Artist
Any Grammy award is first a recognition of the artist. And that’s the right term “artist.” Music is an artform and Lecrae is one of the best in his field. Anyone who has followed Lecrae–who doesn’t always use the CHH label–has known about his lyrical agility for some time. But many other mainstream music listeners have been increasingly exposed to his talents. His appearance on the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher as well as the crossover success of his mixtape, Church Clothes, were each milestones for him as an artist. But this Grammy represents a new level of acclaim. A Grammy puts Lecrae in the most elite echelons of musicians, Christian or otherwise.
Thousands of fans joined collaborator and fellow artist, Sho Baraka, in congratulating Lecrae with tweets like these, “Congrats to Lecrae & The Reach staff for the Grammy win. The Lords Grace and hard work.”
2. Lecrae’s Grammy Recognizes Christian Hip Hop as an Artform
When Lecrae won the Grammy last night Christian Hip Hop won, too. CHH has often been ridiculed and derided as a genre. In the early days of the movement many artists seemed less polished than their secular peers. Some listeners wrote off the entire style as illegitimate. But artists like Lecrae and many others have elevated the quality and respectability of the genre through intricate, thoughtful lyrics and bangin’ beats. Now after winning music’s most coveted award, Lecrae has raised the status of Christian Hip Hop in the music industry. With his success, other Christian Hip Hop artists may find secular awards shows like the Grammys more open to their “music with a message.” As Lecrae says in an interview after the ceremony, “I think this award definitely gives some credibility to the craft.”
3. Lecrae’s Grammy Demonstrates That Excellence and a Faithful Gospel Witness Can Coexist
Lecrae frequently cites Romans 1:16 (or 116 for short) as the motivation behind his music and life. He is “unashamed” to talk about Jesus Christ as his Savior and announce the Good News to those who are perishing. In a recent interview with PBS he explains, “I’d be crazy to not talk about the thing that is most passionate to me and that is my faith. How can I leave that out? It’s all that I am. It defines me. So you’re going to get that in my music as well.”
At the same time he displays mastery of his craft. His award is a demonstration to all Christians that they do not have to choose between the faithful proclamation of the Gospel and excellence in their vocation. In fact, the Bible teaches believers to do everything for the glory of God. ”So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
“Dear Hip-Hop, this didn’t happen because of swag, drug references, or stripper anthems. #Godisgood”–Lecrae after “Gravity” Hit #1 on iTunes
In this era of the 24-hour news cycle, this year’s Grammy’s may quickly be overshadowed by other events. But the significance of Lecrae as an artist, Christian Hip Hop as an artform, and the witness of blending artistry and the Gospel are the indelible implications of Lecrae’s win.
Most of all, award shows like the Grammys should be a reminder to all Christians about real glory. As Lecrae has often stated in songs and interviews, he doesn’t make music to bring glory to himself. He raps to bring glory to God. Lecrae’s Grammy award prompts all Christians to use their gifts, talents, and resources to point people to Jesus. Perhaps Lecrae again said it best in a tweet after last night’s win…
“Just Won a Grammy. I dedicate it to all the Unashamed fam all over the planet. 1.1.Six -To God be the Glory.”
Other Helpful Resources on Lecrae and Christian Hip Hop