Hip-hop music in the 90s was never a genre that Christians embraced. There were few Christians that did hip-hop music to begin with. The few that existed could not merge hip-hop and faith in an appealing way. In 2004, a new hip-hop artist by the name of Lecrae entered the scene with his debut album Real Talk. He took faith and hip-hop to a whole new level that was never done before.
Fast forward 12 years later. At several albums, mix-tapes, and award shows, Lecrae is one of the most recognizable Christians in the hip-hop community. He sold over two millions copies of his work. He also became a two-time Grammy Award-winning artist. Lecraes unprecedented success has transcended hip-hop music. He had a special ability to bridge faith within an urban context. So how did Lecrae redefine this space to begin with? Well his success on the mic did not come without its challenges. Lecrae writes about the incomprehensible pain and difficult upbringing he faced growing up. This led to his published biography titled, Unashamed.
Unashamed is not to be confused with Christine Caines book with the exact title. It is not uncommon for two different books to have the same exact title. It is uncommon that they are both released on the same year, the same month, and only a few days apart. Lecraes book was released May 3, 2016, while Caines book was released as early as May 8, 2016. I like the font style and colours used in its title, but I do not like the extreme close-up of Lecraes face as the design. It feels uninspired to have a zoomed in face take up the whole cover. A more creative cover art could have been designed than this.
There are two central themes that Lecrae speaks about that become recurring challenges in his life. The first and most important central issue was Lecrae never seeing, knowing, or growing up with his father. This caused immense pain to not only Lecraes self-esteem, but to his identity as a man. Readers will learn very fast how much damage is caused when a father is not present in a childs life. Their idea of worth, value, and love is perverted and twisted. What made things worse was that Lecrae was a victim of sexual abuse by his babysitter and physically abused by his stepdad. Lecrae also had a deteriorating relationship with his mother.
The second major theme was Lecrae not being able to fit in. Everywhere he went, he seemed to have an identity crisis. Lecrae almost got into gang culture. He got into fights at school. Lecrae would continue to go through a vicious cycle of loneliness. He would drink and smoke weed to help cope. But it led to more dangerous substances such as cocaine and ecstasy. Lecrae was never athletic enough to do well in sports. He would then turn to girls and became sexually promiscuous. Some weeks Lecrae would sleep with a different girl every night of the week. From receiving an STD, to getting a girl pregnant and forcing her to abort it, Lecraes life was spiralling out of control. Even spirituality was an area Lecrae was searching fulfilment in. He went to a library to research books on different religions such as Buddhism, Mormonism, Judaism, and Hinduism. He Almost followed Islam, but walked away due to his uncertainty that his works would be enough for Allah to accept him. He did not want Christianity and even ripped apart his own Bible.
Substances, sports, sex, and soul-searching was all never enough to find fulfillment. Lecrae had the same loneliness of not having a father and led to his final option: Suicide. He drank as much alcohol and popped as many pills as possible, but it was not enough to take his own life. In a drunken rage, a third voice in his head told him to check into a hospital. From then on, he spent one week in rehab reading the Bible in solitude. It was that week spent with God that Lecrae realized he did not need to fit in to any expectation and that he did not need to do life alone even without a father. Lecrae found freedom in Jesus and was unashamed of his weaknesses and problems surrendering his life to God.
Unashamed was a page turner for me. The ups and downs Lecrae shares of his life and how he found his identity in Jesus is remarkable to say the least. When a situation appears hopeless and a person appears too far from God or beyond redemption, Lecraes life is a story filled with hope. This book is yet another example of how nobody is ever too far away from the love of God. Not only did God restore Lecraes broken life, He molded it into a strong recognizable voice in the world of hip-hop. Lecraes rise to stardom is now on display as he continues to make music that shares truth and Gods glory.
"At night, my roommates would converse about God and wrestle with the tough questions until the early hours of the morning. They talked about Adam and Eve, dinosaurs, Noah's Ark, who Jesus was, and why we were all on this earth to begin with. I'd listened quietly and would occasionally comment. These were all the questions I'd been asking too, but they actually had answers and explanations that made sense. I was encountering undiluted truth for the first time in my life, and truth has a way of breaking down a hardened skeptic like me." - page 80
"Following Jesus doesn't mean you'll start living perfectly overnight. It certainly doesn't mean that your problems will disappear. Rather than ridding you of problems or temptations, following Jesus just means that you have a placeno, a personto run to when they come. And the power to overcome them." - page 117
"Being a Christian is not just about being saved from something but also being saved to something. Following Jesus doesn't just save us from a less fulfilling life or eternal separation from God. It also saves us to a life that can radically transform the world around us through the power of God." - page 156
"My desire for acceptance is one of the crosses that I carry. Each morning I have to attend a funeral. My own. I have to wake up and once again die to my desires for people's approval. - page 183
Lecrae is the first to admit his mistakes, and he creates a proper self-examination of himself. He does not shy away from the controversy and mistakes he made in his music that would upset many Christians. He explains how he wants to navigate away from the stereotypical Christian hip-hop artist. He instead wants to be a hip-hop artist that is Christian. Is he in fact ashamed of his faith for thinking this way? Not at all. He wants to write with a language that speaks truth to the masses rather to only Christians. He wants his music to reach the same lost and broken individuals that Lecrae once was.
Unashamed with have readers wrestling with all sorts of emotions and tears. With intimate photos and writings, it encompasses the vulnerability and transparency of Lecraes life. This was a raw real inspirational book that underlies the importance of having a father. Lecrae shares how God is the one true father that never left him. God's transformative power is on full display as he guides a young troubled man from an identity crisis, to knowing his identity in Christ. From a destructive life to a redemptive purpose. Lecrae has become not only a voice of truth in the hip-hop community, but a voice of compassion to the fatherless.
DISCLAIMER: This review contains affiliate links that allow you to find items in relation to this article at no cost to you. This means that if you click on one of the product links, this site receives a small commission. While this helps us make more reviews, the reader is in NO WAY obligated to use these links. Thank You for the support!