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EXCLUSIVE: Lecrae and Andy Mineo Talk Deconstruction, Being Labeled Christian, Swearing in Music, and More With ChurchLeaders

For example, people think that all things that are labeled Christian [are] equal—acceptable for all ages. That’s just not true. When you look at the Bible, you couldn’t read Song of Solomon until you were 13-years-old—until you became a man. David chopped Goliath’s head off. So then when it comes to what’s labeled “Christian”—Is chopping someone’s head off Christian? You know, David did it; it’s in the Bible. Right? Those are things that parents don’t want their kids to play on video games, because they’re violent. So I think we have a weird definition of what we consider Christian art anyways, or what you label as Christian.

What I understand is people like to label things so they can understand it quicker in their brain. I have an understanding for artists that hate being labeled Christian and those who like it.

The title can be useful when you’re trying to find something—for example—is there any good Christian Rap out there? Oh, I found it, because it was labeled that. But then it can also work against you when you’re trying to reach outside of that niche. Then people like, “Oh, that’s not for me.”

I think that’s always been the conflict, because I don’t want my music to only be enjoyed by Christians, and sometimes that label can stop that.

For example, we were in the airport the other day and an NBA player came up to Lecrae and he’s like, “Oh, my God, I love you, bro.” While other players recognized he was a rapper, Lecrae told them that he was doing a show that night. All the NBA players were like, “Yo, what? Who was he?” The NBA player who recognized Lecrae told the others, “Yeah, man. He’s Christian rapper!” And you just watched everybody just be like, “Oh, I’m good. I’m good. Yeah, like, oh, never mind.”

Now, if you just would have said, “Oh, he’s a rapper. Yeah, he’s dope,” they would have been like, “I gotta check out your music.” Then they may have given it a chance. And then they might have experienced something dope or heard something that’s impacting.

So that’s what it is. Sometimes the title is helpful, and sometimes it really works against you. And that’s why there’s a nuanced conversation to be had. I think when I tell people [that] I don’t want to be called a Christian rapper, they think I don’t want to be a Christian. So there’s just a lot of confusion, and I get why there’s confusion. Because it’s a nuanced conversation and people don’t like nuance. They like simple, fast, boxed up, easy to package.

ChurchLeaders: Andy, elaborating on “some people think you don’t want to be a Christian,” did you get pushback when you used a mild swear word in your song “Family Photo,” on “I: The Arrow—EP“?

Andy: Yeah, from certain places. But it’s funny, because like when I say the word “damn,” I was using it in the most like, emotionally present way. I was talking about my dad not showing up at my wedding and how emotionally hurt I was.

So it is sad to see that we can’t understand swear words in context, or even like emotionally, jolting words in context.

The Apostle Paul uses very strong language in Scripture to describe a very strong situation—when he talks about filthy rags and literal “curse words” of the day. I just think we got a lot of growth to do in how we define, consume, and label Christians who make art. It’s got to be a bigger conversation, a bigger understanding than just, “This is good for my four-year-old.” It might not be. You might need some parental advisory to consume.

ChurchLeaders: Because of who you are as successful artists, people all over the world look up to you and listen to what you have to say, especially regarding today’s cultural topics. Although many put you on the level of a pastor/teacher, even though you aren’t and you don’t see yourselves as such, how do you handle the influence you have on people?