Christian rapper reaches new heights with MTV video popularity

Written by: Ken Fallon

Christian rap artist Lecrae climbed to new heights in his nine-year career Friday night, when he released the video for his song, “Fakin’ ” on MTV and MTV2.

MTV's Top Videos Page

A screenshot of the MTV website shows Lecrae’s Fakin’ video in the top spot on the network’s Top Music Videos page.

It promptly became one of the network’s top-viewed, top-commented and top-shared videos currently in the Music Video Picks section.

The video makes no bones about its goal: to make fun of and point out the hypocrisy in the supposed “gangsta ” lifestyle portrayed by contemporary rappers, and to offer a path toward Jesus. A portion of the lyrics reads:

Quit tryna’ act like the trap is cool, ‘cause we tired hearin’ that garbage
Hey, bags of white, pints of lean, I been on dope boys since a teen
But this ain’t what we meant to be, and y’all don’t make no sense to me
You pump fakin’, ain’t shootin’, ain’t killin, ain’t doin’
Half them thangs you say you doin’, but 116 we stay true an’
Ain’t dope dealin’, ain’t Po pimpin’, talkin’ ‘bout my own folk killin’
We on that Jesus soul healin’, so serious, gorillas
Wild ain’t we, can’t tame us, been changed, can’t change us
1:16 – You can’t shame us. Live that truth; you can’t blame us

The number 116 is a reference to 116 Clique (pronounced one-one-six click), a Christian hip hop group with whom Lecrae performs. It is also shorthand for Romans 1:16, a Bible verse that many consider Lecrae’s core message, and which reads, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

The reaction from commenters on MTV’s website was enthusiastic. One commenter named Elisabeth wrote, “finally something real worth hearing and watching. Best rapper in the game right here.” Another commenter named Gabe said, “Props to you MTV, for getting this real word out. These two fellas are legit, and crazy talented. No fakin when it’s for the Lord.” The comment about “two fellas” refers to guest rapper Thi’sl, who performs on “Fakin’ ” with Lecrae.

Some of the commenters on Lecrae’s Facebook page questioned why a Christian artist would submit his work on a secular channel like MTV, but a broad majority of commenters were supportive of the move as a way to “change hearts” among unbelievers.

Christian rapper Lecrae

Christian rapper Lecrae released his new video on MTV Friday, and it quickly became one of the highest-viewed videos on the Network

Lecrae, also known as Lecrae Moore, grew up on the streets of Houston, San Diego, Denver and Dallas, sometimes living with his working mom, sometimes with his grandmother in San Diego; he never met his father (who he later learned was a drug addict). At night after his grandmother went to bed, he secretly turned on the TV to watch videos of rappers such as Tupac, who became his role models. Through those videos, he learned to rap, and he learned to covet the lifestyle he saw.

“My world view at that point in time was what I saw on television,” he told CNN in a 2010 interview. “I just [rapped] about what I esteemed to be, what I wanted to be like. Most of that was gangsterism, false sense of masculinity, money, women.”

By the end of high school, Lecrae was dealing and taking drugs, and drinking alcohol. His name ended up a list of suspected gang members, and he was arrested on drug and theft charges.

He gave up that lifestyle as a 19-year-old, when he attended a conference where he saw people with stories like his, but who were “in love with Jesus.” Combined with an auto accident in which he walked away without a scratch, he pledged to follow God.

Five years later, he founded Reach Records and released his first album, Real Talk. Since then, he has released 10 additional albums, either under his own name or with 116 Clique, each to critical acclaim and increasingly-high sales. His 2012 album, Gravity, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 72,000 copies.

The same day that Lecrae released his videos on MTV, he was one of six performers at the annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, an NFL-sanctioned gospel music performance that happens during Super Bowl Weekend. In addition to Lecrae, this year’s performers included Fantasia, Marvin Winans, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Bishop Paul S. Morton.

Lecrae’s popularity extends beyond rap music circles. As detailed in an October 2012 ESPN article, Lecrae is in popular with athletes around the country, and is in demand as a leader of pre-game prayer sessions. Among the players who have reached out to Lecrae are Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Justin Forsett of the Houston Texans. His reach also extends to teams such as the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA; New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL; and New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks in Major League Baseball.

G-Blakk’s Debut Album, ‘Blakk Planet,’ Revives A Dying Breed of Hip Hop

Mixtape is Coming Soon!!

Unlike the majority of modern-day rappers, whose lyrics normally revolve around drugs, violence, booty, material gains, or a swollen ego of badassness, G-Blakk‘s debut album, Blakk Planet, has a historically hip-hop mission behind it’s composition: fix the broken black people. Tracks like Fool’s Gold, and March may not be propagated by the”blazing hip-hop and R&B” stations (television NOR radio), but they support the success of the black community moreso than most of the music that infiltrates the many minds of the masses.

With lyrics that will tickle the true hip-hop heads that still have early Nas and Common Sense (before he went Common) albums in the player, G-Blakk should expect a heat-felt embrace by those that have been standing out in the cold, waiting for some new hot fire to heat up the rap game.  This album takes a shot at the usual suspects; understandably, the Man (of predominately Caucasian descent), The System, and the self-destructive habits of the Afro-American community.

Perhaps G-Blakk's Album Pays Title Homage to Public Enemy

Some may be disappointed to find that their are no song credits whatsoever, since that makes it hard to find more about who you like. In place of such attributions,  Willie Lynch’s infamous speech that allegedly recommended that slave owners pit their slaves against one another to ensure their complete subservience. And even though this letter has been refuted, it does the listened justice by truly setting the tone of the album’s deep-thought material.

PLUS opens for Snoop Dogg at Hartford’s Webster Theater

Snoop Dogg

PLUS, a 34-year-old rapper/ producer, who began rapping in Connecticut with his hip-hop trio, Nervous System, was at a loss for words when he was invited to open for the legendary Snoop Dogg at Hartford’s Webster Theater this friday.

P.J. Davis, who goes by the title PLUS on stage, was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Gaithersburg, M.D., and made his way through Wilton before settling down with his family in South Salem, N.Y. in 1993. And, since he still plays “Doggystyle,” Snoop’s 1993 record debut, as if it had came out last week, it’s safe to say that 93′ was a great year for him.

Since then, he has traded  Nervous System, which was comprised of himself along with Bridgeport emcees Solstorm and Eclipse, for a solo career where he switched out the digital sampler for a midi keyboard, and managed to go from an introverted individual to a man who pours himself into his records.

Webster Theater in Hartford, CT

After all, PLUS just wants to let people know that he exists; he hopes to assert his solo capabilities as he tears up the state’s blossoming hip-hop scene. And, considering the title of his new self-produced album, “The Turning Point,” this couldn’t have been a better time to take on the challenge.

Jay-Z Is A Master When It Comes To Branding


Smells like Brand Spirit

When Jay-Z first emerged on the scene, he became notorious for his slippery style of staggered raps and liquid delivery; nowadays, he’s the famous name behind the shoes, the drinks, video games and clothing that have propelled him to social icon status. And with his newest album release, The Blueprint 3, Jay-z continues to push marketable singles to those who are looking for the best rapper alive. His formula of building albums around popular hits has enabled him to brand Superbowl ads, fashionable fragrances, and other merchandise that regular lyrical lions can only dream of selling.

As it stands, branding the crowd is much easier with a single and a t-shirt than a message and a melody. The Jay-z from Reasonable Doubt (1996) was the shrewd business man, wearing a talent for rhythm and

Rocawear, a clothing line.

Rocawear, his clothing line

rhyme on his sleeve. But, in 2010, Jay-Z is decked out from head to toe in an all black outfit, which his company manufactures. Almost like a walking commercial, Jay-Z has mastered the technique of branding an audience with the fire of a hot single. He’s left the New York state of mind for an Empire  State Of Mind, where everyone in his fan-base is also a customer of the commercial machine, whose cheapest item is the CD.