Lecrae has recently released his new collaborative album with world-class producer Zaytoven entitled “Let The Trap Say Amen.” Lecrae does not only bring the 808 thumping, hi-hat-tapping, synth-running trap sound that we love, he also suffuses the project with hard truths and hope that play on the album’s title with dexterity and nuance.

The Sound

Trap music is usually typified by double or even triple-timed hi-hats, heavily-layered 808 drums, and dark synthesizers. While people can debate who is responsible for its creation (T.I. or Gucci Mane?), one cannot deny its Southern birth and inception. It was birthed—just like the genre of Hip-Hop itself— out of the struggle. “The medium is the message” is a well-known communication principle and Lecrae obviously adheres to it as he carefully chose the style and content of his new album.

The Drug Spot

When I was a kid growing up on the south side of St. Petersburg, Florida, I remember walking into the house of Mike —my brother’s friend and a local drug dealer— to ask him for his basketball. Mike knew one of my friends had problems with the older boys at the local rec center. To keep us all from trouble, he bought a brand-new basketball hoop and set it up in the back of his house just for us. Anytime we wanted to shoot, we would knock on his door and ask for the ball. As I went into the room, I saw stacks of cash on the top of his TV near the window where he used to serve fiends.

I never looked at Mike’s crib as a trap house (even though it was). To us, this was just Mike’s house, yet guns, drugs, and music were all a part of the program. These types of homes were simply a part of everyday life.

The Hood

When you grow up in a poor and under-resourced neighborhood where economic opportunity is all but non-existent, people (like my friend Mike) begin to feel trapped. So they make their own economy. Neighborhoods with failing public schools that lack funding, resources, and teachers to help students succeed can trap parents and children. Some students drop out; others get pushed out.

Growing up in a neighborhood where the police harass you and patrol your streets leaves you feeling cornered. And when people perceive or find themselves trapped, not only do they feel forgotten, devalued, and marginalized but they also do everything they can to survive.

Deeper Than Rap

One of Lecrae’s strengths is contextualizing biblical truth for his audience and the trap needs this. As I think of all the people I know who are trappin’, I know they can benefit from the truths of a song like “Plugged In,” which shows how God can not only transform hearts but also help hustlers take their natural business acumen from the streets to the boardroom.

This project is not just for the drug dealers, but for everyone who was raised or still lives in the trap. Lecrae’s project is bigger than music and represents the nuanced multi-layered nature of the trap and the players of it.

These aren’t just neighborhoods filled with gangsters, thugs, and troublemakers. The trap can’t just be dwindled down and relegated to a home of commerce in drugs. It extends to all people who find themselves trapped in areas where they are marginalized and forgotten about. But God is redeeming people everywhere and that includes people in these neighborhoods. God’s people reside there and he is there as well, giving hope to the hopeless and meeting people where they’re at. In fact, God met me there 12 years ago and is still transforming lives till this very day.

Let The Trap Say Amen

As I was coming home from work one evening, I stopped by a local park. While leaving, I ran into a group of five guys huddled in the parking lot. I engaged them and one dude (“The Leader”) was adamant about talking to me. His friends left and we spent two hours standing in the freezing cold talking about his life on the streets hustling and Jesus.

The Leader told me his whole life story. He was able to move his mother and sister out the ‘hood due to the money he was making in the streets. He knew he could die, but he had too many people depending on him to live. I gave him a ride home and as we approached the end, he had tears in his eyes. We both realized we would never see each other again. I dapped him up and asked him to take heed to all I said. I also gave him an unopened Lecrae album. With tears in his eyes, he promised he would listen.

I don’t know what became of that brother but I do know this: God loves the trap and has died for its inhabitants. Despite the hardships, struggles, and injustice of the trap, the blood of the Savior runs like an ever-flowing stream, touching and bringing redemption to traps all across the nation. God is redeeming his children—yes, even his children in the trap.

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