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Lecrae (@lecrae) is a two-time Grammy winning hip hop artist and author of Unashamed, the autobiography about his rocky path to becoming a chart-topping industry anomaly.
We’ve all been in situations where we don’t feel like we quite fit in with the people around us. And if we’re introverts on a path that deviates from what’s accepted as mainstream, the struggle is all the more real.
In this episode of The Art of Charm, we talk to award-winning hip hop artist Lecrae about what it’s like to navigate the music industry as an introvert, and staying true to oneself even when surrounded by doubters and would-be defamers. Unashamed, Lecrae’s autobiography, is available now.
When you ask hip hop artist and author Lecrae what he does, he’ll give you a pretty vague — albeit humble — answer. “I inspire through art,” he’ll say. But he’s the first hip hop artist to win a Grammy in the gospel category, which puts him in pretty good company. Elvis Presley, the universally anointed King of Rock and Roll, won just three Grammy awards over the course of his hit-blessed career — and they were all in the gospel category.
Lecrae has been nominated in the “regular” hip hop category as well (Best Rap Performance, 2012) — which may come as a surprise to those who don’t subscribe to Lecrae’s outlook. “I think art’s supposed to transcend culture and faith and genre,” he says. “So for me, to be nominated in a category with people who I consider peers in music and art, it said the music was being looked at as broader than just the faith that Lecrae subscribes to.”
What might also come as a surprise to many is that Lecrae considers himself an introvert. But the way he sees it, most entertainers are probably introverted. “I think it’s easier to be on a stage and give off this big burst of personality and energy…as long as you have an opportunity to retreat back into yourself and have some down time,” he says. “We’re weird people. We need to come back and have our own time, and then we can come give you some of what we’ve been doing in our mind by ourselves.”
Lecrae doesn’t really embrace the awkward exchange of conversation between strangers at parties and generally prefers to sit them out — either to work on new material or recharge his introvert batteries. “I’m the worst networker ever,” he says. “I don’t know how to do the little song and dance small talk stuff.” (That being said, he does have a Beyoncé party story to share with us in this episode.)
Because Lecrae wears his faith on his sleeve, people who aren’t a part of the world of artists who get nominated for gospel category Grammy awards don’t always know how to act around him. They approach him with a certain level of restraint because they’re not sure if he’s going to judge them for drinking, smoking, cussing, or carrying on with their usual routines.
“It’s almost like I’m an alien who just walked in the room,” he says. In describing his first experience attending the Grammy Awards, he continues: “It’s like going from high school to college. You can be The Man in high school or just the person who everyone knows…but as soon as you get to college, you have to make new friends, find a different social circle…just start all the way over. That’s kind of how it felt.”
Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about how Lecrae navigates initially uninviting Hollywood cliques, how he maintains confidence to remain the best version of himself even when powerful forces are trying to pull him in every other direction, what his theory about Kanye entails, how he deals with the dreaded pangs of Imposter Syndrome, how Lecrae strives to be a voice that helps influence culture for the better (and stay on track with that goal), how Lecrae’s perspective was affected by growing up without a father (and the role models in his community who filled that gap), how his mother helped him keep his life on track (in spite of what the aforementioned role models had to say about it), why he’s no longer down with O.P.P., why he’s not offended when people tell him that religion is a crutch, how he respects those of other faiths (but chose to settle on his current path), what happened at the Beyoncé party, and lots more.
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