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Music
November 1, 2023

Reasons To Believe

Written by: Waymaker Journal Team

We all need cheerleaders to spur us on, says hitmaker Lecrae

HIP HOP STAR AND ENTREPRENEUR LECRAE will tell you that you’ve got to believe in yourself if you’re going to make any kind of difference in the world. But, he will add from personal experience, sometimes you need someone else to believe in you first, before you can do so for yourself.

The artist and author began his career on a gamble when he was working at a cable company, where he had pretended to have a degree to get an internship. With that foot in the door, he had hustled his way up into a marketing position and things were going well. “My family was like, ‘You made it!’” he remembers. “‘You’re not in jail and you’ve got a corporate job!’”

But a crossroads was looming. Lecrae had started working on music on the side, finishing an album and getting some offers to do shows. Then he was told the company he worked for was closing his department and he could either relocate to Philadelphia for a new position, with a bit of a raise, or take a severance package.

“I knew that I wanted to do music more than anything,” Lecrae says, so he decided to accept the severance package. It covered his rent for six months, during which time he had to try to make the music thing work. It was a defining moment: “Like this choice was before me: Here is the bread and butter, or there is the milk and honey. It was all faith. I had to follow what I knew was the best opportunity for me at that time.”

Lecrae's Photo

Photo Caption – A young Lecrae with his mother, who taught him he was “more than a statistic.”

AN EARLY CHAMPION

Lecrae acknowledges that he couldn’t have taken that leap without the investment of people who had believed in him. People like his fourth-grade teacher. She was the first person outside his mother and his grandmother who really made a point of investing in him, he says.

“She could have just dismissed me as a disruptive, rambunctious child,” Lecrae recognizes, “but she figured out I was bored and she said, ‘Oh, you might have some gifting, and if we put you in a special class that challenges you in some different ways, then maybe we’ll get the most out of you.’”

That is how he came to find he had a gift in the arts. “She would always be behind me, pushing me to get involved in the creative processes of things,” he says. “And I would have never explored those things were it not for her.”

He keeps that in mind when creating new music. “I want to connect with the least of these, the average—the single mom who’s got to go to work every day, the brother who’s riding the train, trying to make ends meet and busting his tail to get the little bit he can get,” he says. “I never want to get to a place where I’m sitting in an ivory tower, disconnected from people.”

Lecrae aims to “to talk about real life, real issues, real pain, real suffering in my music—but also real hope. Because society said that this little boy who came from a single-parent home in an inner city area, this kid with a drug-addicted father who was kicked out of schools and brought home by the police, wasn’t going to amount to much.

“I needed people who believed in me, who could believe there was a future for me.” People like his grandmother. She taught him “to consider the poor, to be selfless, to be a giver and not a taker.” Now 93 years old, she still goes to the food bank to pick up things to give to people who don’t have anything, Lecrae says admiringly.

Lecrae's Photo

“Even if they can’t see my face, I want them to know that I believe it’s possible for them.”

AN EMPHASIS ON CHARACTER

Having needed people like his teacher and family members who believed that there was more in him, Lecrae is persuaded there are others out there right now who need to know that somebody believes in them, too. “Even if they can’t see my face, I want them to know that I believe, I believe it’s possible for them. I believe it’s possible for you,” he says.

“And so I’m writing for you. I’m writing to give you a hope that a way will be made for you.”

It’s not just enough to believe, though. Lecrae asserts that you have to apply yourself, too. When COVID-19 hit last year, all his plans for 2020, including a tour, went on hold. “When I realized none of that was going to happen, I had to hit the pause button. I reminded myself that even if I couldn’t change the situation, I could be changed by the situation.”

He started to look internally at ways he could grow, taking some time to learn about new things, including real estate. “I didn’t try to overdo it,” he says. “I didn’t want to be like those people who were all, ‘If you haven’t gotten a second degree during quarantine then you’ve been wasting your time.’ I was just taking it as an opportunity to say, ‘Okay, what can I adjust?’ ‘What can I tweak?’”

Lecrae also kept in mind something he was told years ago. “I can’t remember who it was, but they said, ‘Don’t worry about your name, worry about your character. That’ll take care of your name.’ And that really stuck with me because it is so true. We can always worry about our name. ‘What did they say about me?’ ‘What do they think about me?’ ‘How am I being perceived?’”

However, if you are more focused on your character, then you won’t have to worry about how other people think about you, “because that’s just who you are. So I’m always more concerned about my own personal character; I want people to experience the authentic, real me. I hope that’s something I can continue to pass on down to others.”

Lecrae's Photo

KEEPING IT REAL

In his second book, Lecrae recounts the struggle to overcome his difficult past. The message has connected with many, including one reader for whom it gave hope “that if God can restore Lecrae, he can restore me as well.”