Personal stories are, indeed, powerful, and that’s why I was so captivated by another black memoir that releases this year – Unashamed, the first book from hip-hop artist and rapper Lecrae.
I’ve followed the trajectory of Lecrae’s career over the years – noting his success in Christian circles and his rise to the top of the Billboard chart. But I’ve been only an interested outsider, someone whose foray into rap or hip hop goes about as far as dcTalk during my teenage years. (Which is to say, not at all.) Rap is one of the few kinds of music largely absent from my otherwise eclectic playlists. My wife, Corina, is originally from the Eastern European country of Romania, where the dominant musical style is techno and the cultural backdrop of hip-hop doesn’t exist.
So, needless to say, neither of us comes from a background or experience that would draw us to Lecrae’s story. But there we were on a plane together, reading an advance copy of Lecrae’s memoir, turning pages like it was an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Unashamed is a story of redemption, yes, but the redemptive struggle is cast in terms of being the “outsider” – a motif that appears at the beginning of the book and carries all the way through to the end. Lecrae’s journey is not merely from sin to righteousness, or from lostness to salvation. It’s the journey of a man who comes to recognize his status as an outsider and embrace it as the paradigm of Christian faithfulness.