The ‘Christian Rapper’ argument has been settled…for now
Not since the wild card New York Giants beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl have we seen an “upset” like we saw at the Grammy’s. Lecrae won the Grammy for “Best Gospel Album” by beating out Israel Houghton, James Fortune, Anita WIlson and the man who EVERYONE thought was a shoe in for the award – gospel legend Marvin Sapp. It was an upset according to many industry insiders such as Bebe WInans and more.
For me, when they eliminated the “Rap/Rock Gospel album” category, I never thought a straight hip-hop act would EVER win a Grammy in that field. Yet to the surprise of us ALL Lecrae and everyone involved with making our “Album of the Year” took home the Grammy. And that’s interesting…
Interesting because Lecrae went to the airwaves skillfully and purposefully distancing himself from the title of “gospel rapper.” Not because he wanted to disassociate himself from the GOSPEL. If you listen to the album you clearly see he didn’t do that. But to distance himself from the connotations of inferior music that comes with the title. He said regularly that he makes “honest hip-hop” and he’s honest about his spirituality. Of course that caused a stir about the title of “Christian Rap” or “Gospel hip-hop” being used by Christians who engage the world through their art.
So seeing an artist who openly wants to distance himself from the “Gospel artist” title win a Grammy for “Best Gospel Album” (less than 12 months removed from being nominated for Artist of the Year at the Stellar Awards) may confuse some. It definitely causes some interesting questions to arise. But one thing is for sure, it answers ONE question in the “Christian Rapper/rapper that’s a Christian” debate. And the answer is this:
It really doesn’t matter. Just do you.
Obviously, they are going to call you what they’re going to call you. Just do you. In addition, recently Sho Baraka – after stating that his album isn’t catered to the Gospel/CCM market – he charted at or near the top of BOTH of those charts. It doesn’t matter what they call you, just do you.
I love what Cash Hollistah once said, “call it whatever you want, just don’t call it wack.” The Reach Records staff worked really hard to put out a dope album. Due to its content, many in the music industry called it a “Gospel Album” and in a wild turn of events the RIAA said its not wack. In fact, for music with that content its the BEST there is.
Is it “fair” that they put him in that category? Is it “right” that they call him that despite his own confession about the title? Who knows? Who cares? It shows us it doesn’t really matter what we call it. He just did him. Same goes for anyone else, just do you. They’re gonna call it what they want to call it. I mean, why wasn’t Frank Ocean considered R&B instead of the “Urban Contemporary” category he won for? I bet he didn’t say “I’m not R&B, I’m Urban Contemporary.” But he just did him. They gave it title. And that’s what’s going to happen. Just do you.
Just do what God has called and positioned you to do. If you are fulfilling the call of what you deeply feel called to do, does it matter what an outsider calls it? No? I didn’t think so. It doesn’t really matter. Just do you.