Story by Brianna Willis, Assistant Features Editor
The lights went out as the crowd began cheering and screaming. Silhouettes moved across the stage as the stagehands ensured everything was in the right place. Lecrae climbed atop a raised platform and stood totally still. The anticipation began to rise as the crowd’s cheers grew louder until, finally, pulsating lights around the edge of the platform illuminated Lecrae in flashes. He began rapping and the crowd immediately picked up on the song and began rapping in unison with him. As quickly as he began, the stage blacked out again, and in an instant, colors burst from the lights on stage. All at once, the stage came to life and Lecrae, energetic and dynamic, began his set in Lovett Auditorium.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC
Lecrae Devaughn Moore was born October 9, 1979, in Houston. As a Christian rapper, Lecrae has gone from using his musical talent to perform at a juvenile detention center in Texas to now performing on tours and writing a book set to come out May 3. However, Lecrae said it hasn’t always been easy, and his journey as a Christian has not been perfect.
“I don’t want to present you with some sanitized image of a Christian,” he said. “I’m flawed and I don’t have it all figured it out, but I put my trust in the one who does.”
Lecrae talks about his struggles with his faith and the things he has been through in life in a number of his songs. This transparency about his life is something he said he hopes he can use to inspire others.
“College students are leading the world in change,” he said. “If I can inspire that, then I am excited.”
He said his success has not clouded his judgment, though. Rather than being focused on achieving more success and more money, Lecrae said sharing his music and his experiences with people is what he wants. He said he was successful within his community but realized that there were people outside of the faith community who were not receiving the message.
“So we decided to release a free mixtape for people outside the community,” he said.
He released “Church Clothes” in 2012, and it gained national attention, reaching 250,000 downloads on Datpif.com in less than a month, with 100,000 of those downloads achieved in the first 48 hours.
“I share these numbers not to exalt myself,” he said. “But to share the thousands of stories that came pouring in with those numbers.”
He has since released “Church Clothes 2” and “Church Clothes 3,” along with other albums.
At the end of the day, Lecrae said his aim is to inspire others, and to help people along their spiritual journey.
Doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and a steady stream of people filed into their seats right up to the moment the show started. People filled the balcony and the lower level seats.
The audience was diverse in age and race. People crowded the merchandise table, buying hats and shirts while modern pop songs played overhead.
The concert opened with Swoope, another Christian rapper. He engaged the audience and encouraged participation, starting with a call and response song. Throughout his performance, he talked to the crowd in a way that was specific to Murray, from referencing local restaurants to shouting out Murray residents for their participation in his set.
If someone were to pass by, they would hear loud bass and lyrics that seem to be about drinking and “turning up” with friends. However, closer analysis of the content matter shows the lyrics are actually about “turning up” with God and living on the right path. His lyrics suggest he finds his energy and happiness through God instead of from a liquor bottle. This combination of rap beats and lyrics with a message of living a holy life creates a musical experience previously unheard of.
Swoope kept the concert light, including jokes throughout his performance. At some points throughout the show, the bass was so heavy audience members could feel it in their chests as they jumped, danced and rapped along with him. There was even an instance where ceiling debris fell on some audience members, though the original cause of this is unknown.
Swoope also incorporated serious moments into his performance, such as talking about his personal journey with God and the problems we see throughout the world.
Some of the songs from both Swoope and Lecrae contained serious subject matter and social problems along with a message of living a Christian life.
“I identify as a Christian,” Swoope said. “But no matter what faith or background you’re from, we can all acknowledge that there is something wrong with the world; something is broken.”
After Swoope was DJ Promote. He incorporated popular memes, video clips and songs into his set. At one point, he took a selfie of himself and the stage.
He played some old school songs such as “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, but also included modern hits such as “Turn Down For What” by Lil
Jon and “Hotline Bling” by Drake.
His intention to get the party started and keep the energy going was clear.
“Turn to the person next to you and tell them ‘I came to have a good time!’” he said.
At one point he played “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento and a little boy in the audience, around the age of 6, showed his mom how to do the popular dance.
He finished his set and someone yelled “I’m going to need an intermission!” His wish was soon granted as Lecrae played a video discussing a philanthropic organization “Food for the Hungry”.
Byron Chambers took the stage to talk more in depth about the organization. He passed out a few packets to sponsor a child and then performed a song on his “talk box,” which is similar to auto tune. The crowd cheered, and a brief intermission followed.
Finally, Lecrae took to the stage, performing many of his more recent songs.
He talked about his faith journey and even told a brief humorous story about his failed attempt to flirt with a girl while he was in college. He used this story to segue into talking about his wife, followed by a song he dedicated to her titled “All I Need is You.”
Like Swoope, his set focused on his journey with Christ as well as social justice issues.
“I go across the world to Middle East, Africa and Asia and then I come home and there’s Ferguson and Baltimore,” he said. “So who are we? The type who just says ‘prayin’ for you’ or do we reach out and be the light and salt of the Earth?”
This was followed by cheers. At the end of his show, he walked off and the crowd began chanting “Say I Won’t,” which is a popular song of his.
“What more do you want from me?,” he said. “Are you not entertained?”
He laughed and then performed the full song, the crowd rapping along with him. He closed out his show with a “Kentucky, we love you” and walked off stage.