A film about the Unashamed Movement may soon be coming to a theater near you.
Art Hooker — director of the Unashamed World and, previously, President Barack Obama’s “This Is Fatherhood” campaign featuring Lecrae and Dwayne Wade — told Rapzilla that his long-awaited documentary will finally release in January 2016. He started the project in 2010 and planned to put it out in 2012. However, the career trajectory of the main character, Lecrae, kept changing.
“Had the story come out in 2012,” Hooker said, “it would’ve been incomplete based on what we’re doing now.”
In 1998, Hooker watched Lecrae freestyle in a cypher at the University of North Texas, where they both were students. Hooker introduced himself afterward and told Lecrae that he should rap for Jesus. Lecrae looked at him like he was crazy.
Weeks later, though, Lecrae accepted Hooker’s invitation to a Christian conference in Atlanta because he was promised that girls would be in attendance. There, Lecrae became a Christian, and he soon began to rap for Jesus.
Lecrae and Hooker lost touch after the rapper’s label, Reach Records, moved from Texas to Tennessee in 2006. But they reconnected in 2010 as Lecrae recorded his fourth studio album, Rehab, and Hooker was finishing another project about creativity and passion-driven movements. Inspired by the movement that had blossomed around his friend who was living unashamed of the gospel as an artist, Hooker aimed to release two films — one on the 116 Clique’s 2010/2011 calendar years and another on its tour of Africa.
In 2011, though, doors in mainstream hip hop that had previously been closed to Lecrae began to open. From the BET Cypher to Church Clothes, events continued to occur that Hooker considered valuable to the story. Two Grammy Awards and appearances on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon later, and Hooker is glad that he waited to finish.
While Lecrae is the main character of Unashamed World, the documentary centers on the entire 116 Clique — Tedashii, Sho Baraka, Trip Lee, Derek Minor, Andy Mineo and KB — who Hooker called the subjects of a film about what it means to live out your faith for the greater good.
“When I became a Christian, my primary journey was, ‘How does the gospel connect to everyday life — not just morally, but also work, play and everything?” Hooker said. “That was always a passion and is still the driver for everything that I do.”
Christian hip hop’s value within global culture will also be detailed, Hooker said, as artists from Africa, Norway, Germany and Egypt will be featured. Hooker interviewed hundreds of people in addition to the 116 Clique for the project, including Propaganda, Thi’sl, Json, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., The Ambassador, Flame and other rappers. Pastors John Piper, Louie Giglio, Matt Chandler and Eric Mason are in the film as well.
“There’s a lot of content that we’re looking at other ways to utilize,” Hooker said, “particularly around the idea of creating some sort of learning program to teach people some of the principles that we’ll be outlining in the film.”
Hooker amassed over a thousand hours of footage for the 90-minute documentary, which he said theaters will show in several cities across America. Unashamed World features film that Hooker shot from as far back as 1998, as well as film that others shot — from an 11-year-old Lecrae saying what he wants to be when he grows up to Trip Lee’s first studio session with Lecrae.
Hooker emphasized that Unashamed World is a film “for the fans, by the fans,” who contributed to its funding. Crowdsourcing has played a major role since its start, as fans designed its first T-shirt and poster. More opportunities for fans to participate in its release will be announced soon.