Last night, leading up to and during the 55th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, most hip-hop fans were probably paying attention to categories like Rap Album of the Year (won by Drake for Take Care), Best Rap Song (taken by “N**gas in Paris”) or how Frank Ocean would fare (he performed towards the end of the show and won for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Those paying attention, though, might have caught another rap victory: Lecrae’s Gravity, which took home Best Gospel Album. As he’s done consistently over the last half-decade, the Reach Record rhymer continues to break down barriers, as he became the first rapper to take home the award. Waiting at the airport for his flight to take off as his exciting Grammy weekend came to a close, Lecrae checked in with XXL to reflect on the honor, discussing the “Amen” controversy with Meek Mill, and plans to work with TDE. —Adam Fleischer
What’s happening man? Congrats.
Hey, bro, thank you.
What’s been going on?
Same old, same old. Just a different day.
Extra different, though, after last night.
[Laughs]. You know, that’s yet to be seen.
In terms of your win, how did everything go down? I know that’s one of the awards that they give away before the main broadcast.
It’s a whole separate ceremony. I was actually on the Red Carpet, talking to Baron Davis, who was telling me how much he was a fan. He was saying, ‘I’d love to get an interview with 2 Chainz and Nas and yourself, so you can kind of interject your perspective.’ So I was kind of waiting around for that interview to happen; I was like, that’s a good look for hip-hop as a whole. And then at that moment, I got a text message that said, “You won, bro.” After that, my phone started blowing up. We took off running down the Red Carpet to the auditorium to see for ourselves.
So you leave the Red Carpet, and where do you go?
It’s another auditorium in the Nokia Center. It’s literally across the street from the Staples Center. I ran in there, my man Street Symphony had already run down there; my manager and them had already run down there to accept the award. I just tried to figure out where to go. We got escorted backstage, and then they took us through this maze of photos and interviews that lasted a good hour. It was dope, man. It was a crazy, wild experience. I really didn’t have much time to revel in the moment, because it was go, go, go.
After that, were you sitting in the Staples Center for the main show?
Yeah, I was actually sitting right in front of Meek Mill and Wale. We had a little dialogue while we were sitting there. Jay walked right past me. It was crazy.
Had you met Wale and Meek before?
I met Meek at the BET Cypher the first time I did the Cypher. I actually talked to Meek last night about the whole “Amen” controversy, and just tried to let him know that the way the pastor approached him is not really the way that I think Christians should be represented. Whether or not I agree with the song, I still don’t think that was the correct approach. And he was appreciative and it was good, man.
I know you’ve been nominated before. Obviously you won last night, but overall, how did this experience compare to the last one?
The first time around, you’re a little more like a deer in headlights, just trying to figure out what’s going on. The whole L.A. vibe, the whole Grammy vibe, and just taking it all in. You don’t know where you need to go, what you need to do. This time around, I was a little more calm and trying to take it for what it is—meeting people, making connections, and a lot more confidence in who I am as an artist and what I’m there for. So winning was like, Wow, the cherry on top of everything else. It was already a dope time, a dope experience, connecting with producers like S1 and DJ Khalil. We started talking. Gonna do some stuff with TDE (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock & Ab Soul). I was already excited about moving forward with those relationships, and then to win a Grammy, that was real crazy.
We’ve talked before about the Grammys, and this particular category of Best Gospel Album, and how it’s separated by content and not by style. And you’ve kind of taken issue with that in the past. But now you’ve won. How are you reconciling all of that?
I look at it like, at the end of the day, I think it’s the content that is the bigger issue for people, and why they’re separating the category. We all know I’m not a Gospel singer. I’m not Marvin Sapp, I’m not James Fortune—guys who were in my category. I’m sure there’s some people that do traditional Gospel music that have an issue with me being in the category, let alone winning. But I think it’s always been an issue that people have with the Grammys, in terms of, What’s Song of the Year versus Best Record of the Year? More than anything, I’m confident that the music was good and I think it stands up there with a lot of the hip-hop albums. I’ll take it.
Do you know where you’re gonna put the award?
I’m gonna put it at Reach Records, in our office studio, just so that the whole team can see it and be inspired to keep building and keep working. Because we’re not done. We’re just getting started.