Christian rapper Lecrae, who recently nabbed three Grammy nominations after seeing his latest album "Anomoly" top the Billboard 200 chart, has had a big year.
And the popular performer is taking advantage of the massive platform he's amassed, using it to spread the gospel, while also addressing some of the divisive issues unfolding in America.
There's no doubt that Lecrae, who is never shy to share his faith, has crossed over into the mainstream. Just consider the fact that he's competing against rappers like Eminem and Drake in the "Best Rap Performance" category at the Grammys — a fact that has left him both grateful and reflective.
It's also a dynamic that's allowing his views on contentious social matters to permeate through to a wider audience.
Lecrae performs at The Tabernacle on November 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
"The 'Best Rap Song Performance' is like a milestone for me," he told TheBlaze this week. "It's more about the mission than it is kind of the award for me and what it is is the mission of just saying that a voice that is not for the degradation of humanity is in the same pipeline with everybody else."
Lecrae said that the nomination is evidence that he can be a man of faith, a father and a husband, while still existing and experiencing success in the mainstream hip hop world. And while the results of that nomination are still nearly two-months away, it's clear Lecrae's influence is being felt.
[sharequote align="center"]"I think we fail to realize that we all see life through a paradigm, through a particular bias."[/sharequote]
Consider that he's been vocal about some of the racial tensions that have emerged in recent weeks surrounding the unrelated deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black man; he's been vocally calling for peace and collective discussion in an effort to temper frustrations.
"I think thre's just a huge, huge lack of civil conversations," Lecrae told TheBlaze. "I think that everyone loves to jump on their soapbox and blast out their analysis of everything, but I think we fail to realize that we all see life through a paradigm, through a particular bias."
Reconciliation and unity are possible when people realize that individuals' diverse life experiences shape the lenses through which they see the world, he said, adding that acknowledging these unique perspectives can help people find common ground and a sense of unity.
Lecrae also said that it's essential to give everyone the chance to voice his or her feelings and thoughts, charging the faith community with taking a lead in the quest for reconciliation, though he said that there's still a lot of work to be done even among people of faith.
He highlighted the fact that Sundays — the traditional day of Christian worship — are generally the most segregated day of the week. Regardless, he believes that the faithful hold the key to helping bridge divides.
In the end, Lecrae said that finding common ground boils down to positive communication.
"When people feel like they're not heard or attacked and indicted it just creates more division," the rapper said, condemning the act of "assuming peoples' motives."
[sharequote align="center"]"When people feel like they're not heard or attacked and indicted it just creates more division."[/sharequote]
As for former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo — the men responsible for the deaths of Brown and Garner — Lecrae said that it's not possible to definitively say what the motivating factors were.
"I always struggle when people say, 'This is a hate crime' … no one knows the hearts of men. We don't know what's going on in the hearts of individuals and [what] leads them to do something," he said. "I'm not in a position to say."
Lecrae did note, though, that he believes America has seen "systematic oppression" and "systematic racism" that is, many times, unintentional due to the nation's history and setup, but he believes that the problem goes even deeper.
[sharequote align="center"]"I always struggle when people say, 'This is a hate crime' … no one knows the hearts of men."[/sharequote]
"At the end of the day … it's never one sided. There's no knight in shining armor who did everything right and one side is the side that has it all together — that doesn't exist," he said. "I think everyone has to take responsibility and look at all the different issues instead of shifting the blame. We can say it's the system's fault, but what about the individual responsibility? I think it's both."
Lecrae performing in his first feature film role in "Believe Me" (Believe Me Movie)
The rapper knows that race is a tender topic and believes that there are many unresolved issues, noting that legislation hasn't healed long-felt wounds.
He encouraged people on all sides to take the time to listen to one another and to have civil dialogue. In Ferguson, for instance, Lecrae said that the community could have done more to care for peoples' emotional needs.
[sharequote align="center"]"We can say it's the system's fault, but what about the individual responsibility...it's both."[/sharequote]
"In the same way that there were riot gear and barricades put up, because of the fear of what could happen, how much thought or care or rollout for something that dealt with the emotional needs of the community was setup?" he asked. "On the other end of it, I don't think that rioting and looting was productive. It was counterproductive. I just think it takes both sides trying to figure out what does it look like to work together."
Among his other pieces of advice, Lecrae said that it's important for people to expose themselves to individuals with different life circumstances and viewpoints.
"In light of all of the civil and social unrest, there's a lot of conversations that need to be had where a lot of emotional intelligence is used and not just people jumping to conclusions," the rapper said. "There's a lot of friendships that need to be developed … once you start to develop friendships out of your social [and] economic circles, you begin to see the world through different lenses."
Lecrae previously stopped by TheBlaze newsroom this fall to discuss his career. Watch that interview below:
In addition to his "Best Rap Performance" nomination, Lecrae is also up for "Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song" and "Best Gospel Performance/Song at the Grammys, which will be held February 8, 2015.