Lecrae: I put faith in hip-hop
Hip-hop music and messages of faith and Jesus do not typically go hand-in-hand. But one artist has been able to top both the hip-hop and gospel charts with songs like "Jesus Muzik" and "Gravity."
Dubbed the "Christian rapper," Lecrae has set out to prove themes of faith do belong in hip-hop through his music.
"Faith, family and monogamy do exist in hip-hop because I am a part of hip-hop," he told FOX411. "You want to know where hip-hip is going? Ask yourself where you're going because you are hip-hop."
The Grammy Award-winning artist released his latest album "Anomaly" Sept. 9, topping the iTunes and Amazon charts, and stars in the new film "Believe Me." While he's proud of being known for his Christian faith, the Texas native has grown tired of people's tendency to label him.
"I'm not ashamed of my faith but I think it really does kind of capsize my art," he said. "I think people just like to make everything nice and neat [with labels]."
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The singer, whose full name is Lecrae Moore, explained that while themes of misogyny and violence are popular in hip-hop music, there are singers who are bringing more to the genre-- they just aren't being heard.
"[Things like faith] are not the things that are promoted [in hip-hop], and part of it is the corporate infrastructure of promoting what sells," said the rapper who starts his tour Oct. 2. "I had to have an independent label for my voice to be heard."
While the 34-year-old's music has been successful so far, he does feel the pressure to uphold his Christian label while still finding ways to evolve his sound.
"I understand [why I was labeled], and it's not a selfish motive of, 'Let me be me,'" he said of wanting to branch out creatively. "I want to serve my fans and some artists say, 'I make music for myself,' and that's fine. But I definitely make music to be a voice in culture. I make music to push back on things and challenge perspectives."
The singer says he still struggles with temptations every day and he is in no way perfect. But after a friend invited him to attend a Christian conference at age 19 that he decided to live every day for God; a message he tries to instill in his children today.
"I want [my children] to be thinkers...and I would never say, 'You're going to go to this Christian deal with me' when they're of age or what not because I don't want them to feel like they have to because I say so," he said of his parenting. "But I want them to really challenge why they don't want to do it and what does that mean. I want their world view to be transformed or all we'd gain is children who have a disdain and distaste for the God that I truly love."
Aside from music, Lecrae has dabbled in acting, most recently as Dr. Malmquist in the faith-based film "Believe Me."
"I got involved for a lot of sentimental reasons," he said. "One, it's an independent film company so I respected the independence. Two, it's not the stereotypical faith-based film.
"I think Christians are trying to get answers in their art instead of telling great stories. If I already know the premise and the answer you're trying to give me it almost defeats it. For me, I have to love the story and to be taken down all the paths so I think that's part of the issue a lot of the times. Also, c'mon, Nick Offerman's in it."
Faith & Fame is a regular column exploring how a strong belief system helps some performers navigate the pitfalls of the entertainment industry.
Follow Sasha Bogursky on Twitter @SashaFB.