After Reach Records cut professional ties earlier this week with Dove Award-winning rap and hip-hop artist GAWVI, label co-founder Lecrae is speaking out about the “painful” situation and the road forward. The label announced the decision Monday, citing “behavior that is inconsistent with our core values.”
GAWVI (Gabriel Alberto Azucena) had recently shared that his marriage ended in 2020, adding there was “no scandal to gossip about.” Then Cataphant, a designer who’s made album artwork for GAWVI, accused him of sexual harassment—adding that “everyone” knew about “his actions for at least a year.” The allegations against GAWVI include sending unsolicited explicit photos to women.
GAWVI, and Lecrae’s Year of Processing
In a video posted to YouTube, Lecrae admits it’s “really difficult for me to talk about” this. It’s not just a circumstance or news item to him, he says, but “real people that I know.” So it “grieves” him and has “rocked our community.”
On the Relevant Magazine podcast this week, Lecrae and artist Trip Lee respond to questions about what Lee calls “a heartbreaking situation.” Lecrae says “all we knew” was that GAWVI was dealing with marital struggles, and they tried to “get him to just be transparent with us.” Label staff had been “trying to process the character deficiencies” they’d “seen over the last year” in GAWVI, Lecrae notes. He adds, “We had already stopped putting out his music and stopped doing stuff…but this was the hammer that drove the nail in.”
GAWVI appears on one of the new singles released last month for 116 Day (referencing Romans 1:16). And he was scheduled to appear on the upcoming “We Are Unashamed” tour this spring. But Reach Record senior vice president of marketing, Marcus Hollinger, explains that the single and tour promo had already been in the works.
GAWVI’s statement on Saturday, January 29, made label staff realize “there wasn’t a commitment to truth,” Hollinger tells ChurchLeaders, so Reach Records decided on the next business day, February 1, to cut ties. The label worked quickly, he says, to discover as much information as it could, seek legal counsel, and care for staff members. Hollinger declined to address how GAWVI reacted to the label’s decision.
Reach Records says the upcoming tour, which will take place mostly in churches, is being realigned and “turned into a unifier for the label and its artists.”
In a video posted to Instagram Friday, Amanda “Butta P” Smalls, GAWVI’s former manager, assures listeners that the people involved went through a biblical process privately, trying to walk people they loved through a tough situation. “The label did what the label could do,” she says of Reach Records. “But accountability and community is only as good as your vulnerability,” and if someone continues to “blame shift” and doesn’t “take responsibility,” then “you can’t blame community for not walking alongside you.”
Lecrae, Trip Lee Speak of Restoration, Protecting Women
On the Relevant podcast, Lecrae and Lee emphasize they’re not “throwing GAWVI away” but want “restoration” in his life and relationships. “Restoration is only as powerful as you’re transparent and humble to allow it to have its effect on you, to allow the Lord to work on you and transform you in repentance and in humility,” says Lecrae. “[God] uses broken people to paint a picture of his goodness and his grace, so that’s all I can hope for.”