Lecrae Found Restoration After an Identity Crisis Left Him Feeling Like a Failure [INTERVIEW]
“When you get to the end, there’s nothing left to hide and you can be honest.” Sometimes the voices we hear the loudest are the ones in our own heads. Lecrae spent years battling these voices that were also warring with the ones raining down on his conscience from outside. Each outside voice was like an arrow with his name on it saying things like: “Sold his soul,” “of the world,” “manipulative,” “wolf,” and so on. They started piecing through the armor and damaging what was left of an already weakened defense.
“You almost believe it, or you do believe it,” Lecrae admitted.
These insecurities have been eating at Lecrae for years. Much of the groundwork had been laid growing up in an unstable environment. It was a product of his childhood trauma. Many of these feelings and emotions had been left unresolved for so long.
Lecrae was suffering from an identity crisis. One of the key traits of any hip-hop artist is their confidence. It’s what exudes the power in their verses and lyrics. How could he have confidence if he didn’t even know who he was?
“If your identity is built around having to accomplish something that you didn’t accomplish or having never done something you haven’t done, then your identity is torn down,” he said. “That’s my issue. I had these ideals in my head that I would never tarnish. I had these pictures of myself that would never crumble. And I had this idea that God was like my ideological father that if I messed up he would abandon me.”
He admits that the worst part of it was having Christians tell him how terrible he was, or “how not about the kingdom I was or seduced by the world.”
Lecrae continued, “That was the hardest season in my life. Hearing so many voices at one time saying all these negative things about me. That was a failure in my life. Anything else I did in my life exasperated that. My identity was never built on what anybody said about me. This is some childhood trauma stuff because I didn’t grow up in a place where my worth and value was solidified. God gave me my worth and identity.”
He was giving his failure too much weight in his life. The weight was crushing him.
“I had to come to grips with my own issues. You have to get to the end of yourself. That’s when you can be honest,” shared the rapper. “There’s a part of me that’s a hurt little boy because my dad wasn’t here. There’s a part that’s a selfish insecure person that wants people to see me as awesome. You have to be honest about those things. Sometimes you need counseling to get to those; I certainly did.”
Along with counseling, forgiveness played a huge role in healing. The focus is often on a person seeking forgiveness and getting a burden off their chest. For Lecrae, he needed to be the one forgiving. He had historical trauma with his father and people in the family that had created trauma. He never realized how much they hurt him and how it affected him.
“I had to make amends with my brothers and I have been public with some of them,” he added. “Had to make amends with my wife and kids for being gone all the time. [I was] thinking since I was better than my dad that I was a good dad.”
The irony for Lecrae is despite the constant ducking and dodging of stones thrown at him by Believers, it was non-Christians that offered him support and encouragement to know that he was moving in the right direction.
He recalled a moment in particular when after an awards show, he attended a party thrown by DJ Khaled. Lecrae was chatting with Avengers star Anthony Mackie when a woman approached him.
“Yo, it is so dope to see you in this environment. I respect you more now because you are not afraid to be in here because other Christians might be scared to be judged for being around this,” she said.
“I’m thinking she’s going to come up and say, ‘I can’t believe you’re in here’,” with Lecrae meaning it in a condescending way. “Ironically they played ‘Blessings’ that night too. I just want to celebrate doing these things but you don’t want to say it for fear of being criticized. I’m out here trying to be a light in these spaces but I’m hearing all these voices.”
It’s back to these “voices” for Lecrae. All throughout this time, we see All Things Work Together and Let the Trap Say Amen, but how do we get to Restoration?
Last year a group of Christian artists went on an Israel trip. In addition to Lecrae – Andy Mineo, FLAME, Derek Minor, Canon, and Spechouse were there amongst others. The trip was put on by the Israel Collective for a documentary.
Lecrae put his sandals on Holy Ground and didn’t return the same person.
“It was a gradual build-up,” he said of the impact the experience had on him. “I’ll never forget. The first memorable moment was being in a building that they were sure [Jesus] sat and taught in. This is as close to the physical being of Jesus that I will ever be. I’m close to the spiritual person but the physical person that walked around.”
An archeologist walked the group through King David’s quarters and explained everything to them. Then he explained that it got “realer” in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“Oh my gosh, You [Jesus] were contemplating Your final hours here.”
From their Lecrae and company were baptized in the Jordan River. The artist took heat for this move as well. [For further explanation click here]
“Woah, it’s just water but it’s the water that my savior was baptized in.”
“Then the capstone was the Garden tour,” he shared. “I left in tears, I was undone. When I walked out and it was empty; whether it was the tomb or not, it was empty. It was a symbol for me to leave my past in the tomb and come out restored, healed, and different.”
This sentiment is celebrated in his latest single “Set Me Free.” The second verse says:
All the bitterness and anger, had to let it go
People talking down on me
I guess that’s how it go
Let ’em know
That’s on me, yeah
Shackles on my feet
You broke the hold and now I’m free, yeah
Even in the darkest times
You kept Your light on me, yeah
Got the memo, read the message
Found my purpose, found my method
Only L I took was lessons, tell ‘em
Lecrae was restored after that trip to Israel. He came home a new man. It was a refresh and a restart for him. He quieted his voices, pulled the arrows out, and left them dead and buried in the grave. Just as Jesus resurrected from that tomb, Lecrae did as well. And in this stillness, one voice rang through and that was God’s, saying, “Keep going Lecrae.”