Christian rapper Lecrae has been dominating the US iTunes hip-hop/rap chart since the September 4 release of his new album Gravity, Time reports. Lecrae occupies three of the top 10 spots, with the deluxe edition of his album sitting pretty at No. 1, and the regular version coming in at No. 2. His first mixtape, Church Clothes, is No. 4.
Lecrae’s album is expected to sell 60,000 copies in its first week, a major achievement for a Christian rapper. Considering the No. 3 and 5 spots belong to Flo-Rida and Kendrick Lamar respectively, Lecrae is definitely an anomaly on the chart. But the success isn’t new to the Houston-born rapper; his album Rebel was the first Christian rap album to top Billboard’s Top Gospel chart, spending 78 weeks at No. 1.
The 32-year-old co-founded Reach records, the independent label that released Gravity, in 2004, five years after he converted to Christianity. Before his conversion, the rapper — whose full name is Lecrae Moore — led a life of crime, selling and taking drugs and being involved in gangs. At 19 he attended a conference at a friend’s insistence and heard James G. White, a former hip-hop recording artist and president of the Johnson Institute, deliver a message that showed him his need for a savior. He was later involved in a car accident, and was convinced to commit his life to Christ.
His first album, Real Talk, was released in 2004 and reached No. 29 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. A year later, he co-founded ReachLife Ministries, which helps “bridge the gap between biblical truth and the urban context.” His 2010 album Rehab reached No. 3 on iTunes albums chart and earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Rock/Rap Gospel album. He lost to Hello Hurricane by Switchfoot.
Lecrae told the Christian Post that even though his music isn’t being played on the radio, it doesn’t excuse him or other Christian rappers from “being proactive and starting radio shows and doing internet stuff and finding new creative ways to do stuff instead of depending on the established things that are already there.”