Billboard caught up with Lecrae to speak about the new project, Let the Trap Say Amen, how he connected with Zaytoven, and what the trap means to him.
How did you and Zaytoven first meet?
Me and Zay met through some mutual friends. He knew Shawn Holiday, Senior VP at Sony, who helped A&R my last album All Things Work Together. He also knew 1K Phew, a young artist that he was grooming and who I later signed to my label Reach Records.
You and Zaytoven both reside in Atlanta, and the project feels very closely tied to the city. Did you set out wanting to go a certain direction sonically and in your content?
Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of Zay for many years. I just never imagined we’d be working together on an album. But we just had this chemistry from the jump. He actually works a lot like I do. We tend to make song after song. But neither of us like to follow any kind of a script; it’s more of a feeling. That’s how the south moves as a whole, and we wanted to bring that into the music in every way.
So it’s more intuitive than formulaic.
Yeah, it’s like the blues, man. Blues and gospel. You just feel it and do it. I think of people like Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes. They all came out of the south, and they followed a certain tradition and energy. That’s no knock to groups like The Temptations or The Supremes, not at all, but they were way more polished in how they did things. But the heart of the south is based more off of instinct and feeling, and following wherever that feeling takes you. It’s natural, and visceral.
What was the process of writing and recording the album?
We were together a lot while creating all of the songs. It was a really easy process, actually. We would just trade ideas in the studio; he would tell me what he thought a track needed and I would catch a vibe right there and jump in the booth. Or sometimes I would record separately and show him when he came into the studio, and he’d be like “wow!”
Why was it important to you to show a different side of the trap? You seem very intentional about offering people a different angle from what they might be used to.
I think a lot of people don’t realize the diversity of the trap. Especially people that don’t understand what goes on in some of these communities. They don’t see the nuance. They only see the dope pushers, the money, the crime, and all that.
They don’t see the circumstances that might lead to people embracing a particular lifestyle.
Right, and these are real people we’re talking about. People with real emotions and thoughts, hopes and dreams. A lot of the time, the stories that get told are the ones that folks want to hear. They want to hear a story that sounds like an action movie. They don’t want to hear about growth, intelligence, and development. But all of that is there. I’ve seen it. My man T.I. has seen it. Killer Mike has seen it. 2 Chainz has seen it. And we still do. We’re all intelligent entrepreneurs. So yeah, we can tell you horror stories all day. But we also want to tell hero stories. The question is, what do the people gravitate toward the most?
You’ve spoken a lot in the past about the struggle of having to grow and mature in the public eye. The scrutiny that comes with it. How do you deal with people’s expectations of you these days?
Truthfully, I’m at a point now where I’m not even worried about what people think I should be saying or doing. They don’t tuck my kids in at night. They can’t answer to God for me. I’ve got to be who God created Lecrae to be. That’s all I can do. Anything else just makes me a slave. A slave to the opinions of people who don’t know me; a slave to their money; a slave to their desires for me. But I don’t have time to focus on that. I’m free. So, every time you hear me, just know that I’m speaking as a liberated person.
Adopted from Bilboard