Lecrae finished his opening songs and then began to talk. “It’s not about me,” he said. “I’m like the moon: the moon doesn’t have any light in itself, it just reflects the Sun.” And that’s when I totally freaked out because I realized he was going to perform Background, my favorite of his songs, and one that I have completely memorized. I may have gotten a press pass to attend the concert as a journalist but, well, when Lecrae is rapping songs you love, you rap along and feel like a rebel.
If you ask anyone who attended the Lecrae concert on March 11 what they thought, you’ll likely hear words like “awesome” and “lit.” Actually, I heard all that and more from my friends. One such friend was so energetic that he bounced up and down faster than Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh at the concert; after the concert, he flew up the hill to Guffin and raced around the hallway. But as lit as much of the concert was, it wasn’t enough for Lecrae, who told us that we needed a “lesson in litness” before proceeding to get everyone waving their hands ecstatically in the air. “Guilt is knowing you made a mistake. Shame is feeling you are a mistake. But grace is knowing God has forgiven your mistakes,” Lecrae said. And then he added, “Some of you can’t dance. You don’t have rhythm. Your arms are flailing. But you don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed because we forgive you.” And then we danced, and dare I say we danced as unto the Lord.
The thing I respect about Lecrae is that he’s not just a good performer, but he is also a leader. Part of being a good leader is sharing about the lessons you’ve had to learn. At one point, Lecrae shared about his college years when he was conceited and didn’t know how to talk to women with respect. One such time, Lecrae had tried to win a girl’s number, but she got his number instead and said maybe she’d call. He ended up waiting for hours for her call; his phone rang and he answered, “Hello, baby…wait, Mom?!”
Lecrae is a master at comedic timing, and he emphasized the humor in the interest of keeping the concert light. Underlying that story is a sense of gravity; learning what it means to be a godly man is serious. After telling his story he addressed the audience saying, “You think you are the man. But you’re not the man. You live in a dorm…with a stranger…and you’re still sleeping in bunk beds as adults. You’re still dependent on that package from mom.” The audience clapped and laughed: a comedic zinger was also an important rebuke of our narcissism.
Christian hip-hop is like mainstream hip-hop, in that the artists boast about what they love. Whereas mainstream artists often rap about money, fancy cars, and beautiful women, Christian artists like Lecrae are something of an anomaly because they boast of their own weaknesses and the loving strength of Jesus. Hip-hop is often an inherently aggressive art form both musically and lyrically, and that means that Lecrae’s songs often serve as a strong kick in the pants.
It’s fun to feel the bass reverberating through my chest, but that’s not ultimately why the concert was so great. It was great because Jesus’ name was proclaimed and we were reminded that the solar system does not revolve around us. Lecrae’s concert was excellent because in the end, it wasn’t about me, but it also wasn’t even about him. We are the moon: it is the Son’s light that makes us truly lit.