Lecrae Performs in a BET Cypher

I know I wrote extensively on Christian Hip-Hop for a week or two, and perhaps some of you are tired of it already. But if you found any legitimacy in the genre, here’s some great news. Earlier this week, BET had their annual awards ceremony. In fact, ever since 2001 the show has been a coveted award, giving only to the best in hip-hop. While there is a Gospel category, most Christian rappers don’t get invited or nominated for anything involving the BET awards. In fact, none of the artists I’ve linked to in the previous posts have performed there or been nominated, to the best of my knowledge.

But now, the good news. Lecrae, perhaps the biggest Christian rapper right now, got to perform in one of the famous BET cyphers. The cyphers are well known in the hip-hop community, and each one will take a few rappers and put them on the same beat (this year the beat was done by DJ Premier). Lecrae was invited to perform, and he wisely took the opportunity. This received some backlash (people were suggesting that Lecrae would ‘sell out’ and not present the Gospel, or that he already had done so, since his lyrics are not as ‘exegetical’ as rappers like Flame or Shai Linne), but I think the backlash was entirely undeserved. I thought this before hearing Lecrae’s performance, but after hearing it, I was absolutely convinced.

Check out Lecrae’s performance here.

Lecrae performs the second verse, in case you couldn’t tell. It should be absolutely apparent, though. The other two rappers primarily talk about themselves, and Lecrae spends the majority of his time talking about Christ. In fact, he even makes it a point to say Jesus’ name directly and slower than the rest of his verse. This is outright discussion of the most important issue he could have addressed, and there were no punches pulled. Stylistically, I think he also held his own around some of the best in the game.

I’m always glad to see what Lecrae and other Christian rappers are doing, but seeing mainstream success is a powerful thing.

In addition to the BET cypher, secular producer Statik Selektah put out a track featuring Lecrae. This is probably the first time a truly gospel-oriented rapper has had this sort of mainstream attention, and people responded comparably to the BET cypher. Of course, Lecrae also responded in-kind, with a straightforward message and a solid delivery. But you can judge that for yourself here.

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J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).