Sunday, 26 May 2013

You Cray, Crae? – My Thoughts on “Round of Applause”

Today we are trying something different. A good friend of ours over at Trans World Radio has written a post on his blog and has asked us to see what our readers think! He is incredibly passionate about the youth, as well as music, AND he has a keen eye for writing. So check out his post below and lets hear what you think! He touches on some important discussion points...enjoy!! 

The Christian community has been in an uproar today, and Christian rapper Lecrae is at the heart of it.
Yesterday, Lecrae released a track for 2013 graduates titled “Round of Applause.” On it, he featured highly acclaimed and very secular rapper B.O.B. aka Bobby Ray Simmons.

Now, initially, I didn’t have a problem with Lecrae’s collaboration. He’s an out-spoken Believer, I am confident in his faith, and he’s collaborated with non-Christian artists in the past. I trust that he knows what he’s doing, and I wouldn’t have given the track a second thought. But a friend and fellow blogger reached out to me, asking for my own thoughts on the matter. She’d seen quite a firestorm of activity surrounding Lecrae on Twitter and wasn’t quite sure what to think about it all herself. So I gladly looked into the matter. Here’s what I determined.
1. This is not the First Time Lecrae has Collaborated with a Secular Artist
The Christian community really shouldn’t be surprised – this isn’t the first time Lecrae has collaborated with “mainstream” or secular artists. In fact, Lecrae was under heavy fire back in early 2012, when he released his free mixtape called “Church Clothes.” The project created quite a stir within the Christian community for several reasons.  First, it was his first effort produced entirely by a “mainstream” producer - DJ Don Cannon. Secondly, Lecrae featured both Christian and non-Christian artists alike on his tracks. And thirdly, it was his most forward project yet, boldly approaching normally hush-hush topics in the church like hypocrisy. “Church Clothes” was met with mixed reviews from his Christian fans, some claiming he was going mainstream himself, while others were pleased to see him collaborating with – and, hopefully, ministering to – many of the secular artists he was working with.
2.1 We Need to Understand the Collaboration of the Song
While, I’m not surprised that Lecrae would feature a secular artist such as B.O.B., I can understand how this particular collaboration would raise some concern amongst Christian listeners. Though B.O.B’s debut album “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” was relatively clean and positive in its messages (I was a big fan of it, myself), the fame and success began to get to his head, I think, and his lyrics become more crude, vulgar, repulsive and worldly.
A big concern with this collaboration is that Lecrae – by choosing to feature B.O.B  on the track – was endorsing a notoriously secular rapper. I guess to say so is a matter of opinion, though I would agree that, yes – by allowing B.O.B to be featured on “Round of Applause,” Lecrae was, in effect, endorsing B.O.B. The question is – was he wrong for doing so? I’ve seen the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 6:14 & 15 thrown around:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
A relevant and appropriate passage for the topic. The commentary in my MacArthur Study Bible says this concerning being “unequally yoked together” “with unbelievers”:
By this analogy, Paul taught that it is not right to join together in common spiritual enterprise with those who are not of the same nature (unbelievers). It is impossible under such an arrangement fo things to be done to God’s glory. Christians are not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian’s testimony within the body of Christ.”
It certainly seems as if Lecrae’s collaboration with B.O.B has been detrimental to the body of Christ, though these two questions come to mind: “(1) Was this song an intentionally spiritual enterprise (remember the occasion for the track), and (2) was Lecrae really bound to B.O.B (oftentimes this passage is brought up in the context of marriage – a lasting relationship)? I’m not attempting to defend Lecrae; they’re just questions I have that I don’t think we can know the answers to.
2.2 We Need to Understand the Collaboration of the Song cont.Lecrae’s “Round of Applause” featuring B.O.B (released yesterday, May 21) is not the only version of the song. Just over one week ago (May 14) Lecrae released this version on Youtube under his own record label Reach Records.

The original track consists of Lecrae’s hook and two verses and lasts 3:50. In the version featuring B.O.B (some versions even say “Remix”), B.O.B adds his own verse for a total length of 4:54. Depending on the website you go to, it seems clear to me that B.O.B’s verse was added well after Lecrae originally released the track. An article from Hip Hop Wired even says,
Lecrae makes a cosmetic change to his congratulatory track “Round of Applause” by adding a verse from Hustle Gang rapper B.o.B.. The religious spitter keeps his lyrics from the original, while Bobby Ray shares his take on achieving his goals despite the naysayers and haters.”
I’m curious to know who reached out to who – did Lecrae invite B.O.B to jump on the track, or did B.O.B ask Lecrae if he could add a verse? Either way, I don’t have a problem.
3. We Need to Understand the Occasion for the Song
Remember, “Round of Applause” is dedicated to 2013 graduates. As far as I know, no other artist – hip hop/rap or otherwise, Christian or secular – produced such a track. It makes sense to me that B.O.B. – after hearing Lecrae’s song – would want to add a verse. Also, this song is a celebration song. It recognizes and congratulates graduates for their dedication, hard work, and achievements. Many have literally just beaten the odds. They’ve done it. And that deserves a “Round of Applause.”
4. We Need to Understand the Lyrics of the Song
Finally, after reading through various twitter feeds I could see that a lot of Christians were disappointed that Lecrae’s track was very self-centered, focusing more on himself and his own abilities to rise above the odds than God’s grace and mercy in his life.  I think people are failing to listen to the lyrics. Though Lecrae identifies his (and our) own responsibilities for our lives – how we use them, what we do with them – it’s actually quite clear that Lecrae gives due credit to God for where he is today:
[Verse 1]See I’m a black man who beat them odds. Supposed to be locked up with no job. Never should of went to college or learned who God is. You add it up it’s all odd….Running from God man turning my back. Never would of made it, Marvin Sapp. But He opened up my eyes and I can’t look back. Why they look surprised, I just took my cap. Yeah he did it, he did it. He changed me and I’m with it. He made me what I’m supposed to be. You get close to me, you might get it
[Hook]We ain’t supposed to be here, never thought we see it. Now we living proof, tell the world to believe it yeah. Congratulations, thank God we made it. They told us we was nothing, now I know they hate it. Round of applause, round of applause. Congratulations, we beat them odds. Round of applause, round of applause Congratulations, we beat them odds.
He did it, he did it, He changed me and I’m with it. He made me what I’m supposed to be, you get close to me, you might get it.” I don’t know what more people want to hear. If you read the rest of the lyrics, you’ll find that Lecrae shares more of his own testimony. He also shares the story of a single mom who overcomes her own life issues and graduates college. His message to high school and college graduates is this: your hard work has paid off, you’ve beaten the odds, you’ve got a promising life ahead of you. But remember that every good thing comes from God (James 1:17).
At the end of the day, people are entitled to their own opinions; I don’t expect to convince anyone of anything. The fact is, Lecrae’s collaboration with B.O.B. is controversial. I think that any final decisions/conclusions will be based on personal convictions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just hope that in the process of sharing convictions and opinions, we don’t cause any further detriment or discord to an already shaken body of Believers.


  1. Hey Guys,

    I think this is a very interesting article. So did Lecrae risk his 'Christian integrity' by featuring B.O.B? I think there needs to be a clear distinction between 'secular and mainstream' music and Christian music. Does the song bring glory to God? Is the praise to God diluted by B.O.B's verse? These are some of the other questions we need to ask ourselves in determining whether or not Lecrae was right to feature B.O.B. Perhaps this can be ascertained when he releases more material, from which we could determine if the song was 'once off' or a trend for the artist.

    It would be sad to see him turn into the next Kanye West or Katy Perry, both of whom began their musical careers singing decidedly Christian music.

    1. Hey Edwin!

      Apologies for the late reply. It's been a crazy couple of weeks for J and myself!
      Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed Adam's post and were honoured when he asked if we'd post it on our blog.

      I guess this issue also relates somewhat to Brian Welch playing with Korn again. Does he risk his Christian integrity by doing this? Or does he see an opportunity for him and his Christian band (Love and Death) to positively influence them?

      After reading the lyrics, I'm still undecided as to whether Lecrae was right in featuring B.O.B....I do agree with you when you say we should wait for more material to be released to see where he is leading his music career.

      I do, however, see the benefits of him reaching out to secular audiences through featuring a famous secular artist.

      It would horrible if he turned from his Christian music roots and followed Kanye/Katy.

      Peace and Love