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Lecrae Debuts ‘Church Clothes, Vol. 2,’ Explains Friendship With Tech N9ne [Exclusive Interview]

Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

On Sat. evening (Nov. 2), Lecrae stood on the porch of a house in East Atlanta overlooking a lawn scattered with red cups usually reserved for alcoholic beverages. This is a scene from the video for his lead single ‘I’m Turnt,’ off his new project, ‘Church Clothes, Vol. 2.’ It’s an unlikely scenario for an artist whose albums are filed neatly away under the Christian rap category.

“You know, it’s a party,” he tells The Boombox, referring to the storyboard for the video. “People are out having a good time. Some of ‘em are doing the most and overindulging and some of them are just enjoying themselves.”

“I think it’s all about moderation,” he continues. “People enjoying themselves in moderation without taking things to detrimental levels.”

Clearly, Lecrae isn’t your average rapper, beyond the fact that he doesn’t curse or spit lyrics of straight-up debauchery; he’s just skilled at what he does. The Houston native was recognized for his talents earlier this year when he was awarded the Grammy statue for Best Gospel Album for his ‘Gravity’ LP. This is a fact that he had to be reminded of by his attentive publicist standing nearby.

“To me, I don’t ever wanna live in the moment too much because I don’t want it to define me,” he says matter-of-factly. “It’s like the person that makes the classic album but doesn’t make any more good music after that. They’re defined by that moment and I don’t wanna be that person.”

While winning a Grammy is a monumental occasion, Lecrae isn’t dwelling on it. “It happened,” the 34-year-old states. “And I’m grateful but I’m hoping that that won’t be it for me. Like when I did the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher [in 2011], people were like, ‘Who is this guy? He killed it!’ But I’m like, I’ve already forgotten about that. I’m on to the next thing because I don’t wanna be defined as that one dude, that one time that did that one thing.”

The rapper sets his own standard and follows his own rules while honoring a greater power, whether onstage with Rakim at Rock the Bells or in the studio knocking out the last details of ‘Church Clothes, Vol. 2.’ “The whole premise of [‘I’m Turnt’] and of my music period, is being progressive,” he shares. “A lot of music is regressive and it doesn’t value the fact that, man, we’re people capable of doing some incredible things.”

“We started off in chariots now we flying in planes,” he adds. “My thing is, let’s make muisc that pushes us to be more than what media says that we are. Be all that we can be.”

The fact that he’s been placed in a box strictly for Christian rappers doesn’t equate to isolation from his fellow MCs. In fact, a couple weeks ago when Kansas City legend Tech N9ne came to Atlanta, a flick of the two surfaced online, polarizing all 984,000-plus of his Facebook followers, although it’s a pretty well-known actuality that Tech was raised “in the church.”

“That’s my dude,” Lecrae says with a shrug. “That’s really how we connected was on [having church in common]. And a lot of times… People don’t talk politics and people don’t talk religion. You know, when you’re already outspoken about what you believe politically or religiously it’s easier to have a conversation. So it’s easy for Tech to talk to me because he knows where I stand. So yeah, that’s my dude, man.”

Lecrae likes to believe individuals are multifaceted; that’s been his lyrical message pretty much since the beginning of his rap career nearly a decade ago when he dropped his first album, ‘Real Talk’ — that project was recorded in a friend’s closet.

He adds to the notion on the second installment of ‘Church Clothes,’ on which the rhymer recruits the likes of David Banner and Boi-1da behind the boards and fellow Houston native Paul Wall as one of the featured artists. There isn’t much in the way of Lecrae realizing that he’s a trendsetter, though he doesn’t give the thought too much light, but it’s particularly because he doesn’t fit any one mold.

“I don’t know,” he starts slowly. “I don’t know that people have necessarily figured out what I’m doing. Or what I’m about to really follow suit. Because I’m not Kirk Franklin and I’m not J. Cole… You know what I’m saying. I’m neither one of them and I think people are like, ‘Oh, what is that?’ But I’m me. I’m the first ‘me.’”

Lecrae’s ‘Church Clothes, Vol. 2′ is available on iTunes now.

Listen to Lecrae’s ‘Church Clothes, Vol. 2′

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