At a recent Hope Event, hip-hop artists Lecrae and Jeff Walker answered questions from prisoners.
Prison Fellowship hosted a Hope Event™ Easter 2021 weekend in Columbia, South Carolina. Grammy-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae and Jeff Walker, also known as SWAAG, headlined as our special guests. Lecrae, a frequent partner with Prison Fellowship, performed at the Prison Fellowship Second Chance® Month Gala held on April 29. Jeff, a Prison Fellowship Academy® graduate and a former prisoner at the same South Carolina facility, has been out of prison since 2019.
During the Hope Event, Jeff and Lecrae answered questions from the incarcerated men. Prison Fellowship field director James Murray facilitated the Q&A session. Answers have been edited for clarity.
James Murray: This question is for both of you: What do you desire to inspire with the way you live and your music?
Jeff Walker: I want people back here to know that there's hope. It's possible for you to actually [get] out … and stay out of prison and work and grind and do something positive.
Start a business. Be a family man. Stay loyal to your wife. These things are possible.
A lot of times in prison, we reach these dark points where we forget truth because our judgment is clouded by our circumstances. [When] we can't get a call through [from home, or] nobody put money on the books [for us, or when] ain't nobody sending letters or pictures.
When we're in those moments, we forget that this is not my life forever. If I don't die back here, this is not my life forever. So, I still have to grind and perfect what I'm doing back here so I can do that same thing on the street. That's what I want y'all to know.
Lecrae: Yeah. I got to echo that, man. For me, it's to be an example of what God can do—of restoration, of hope, of a different aspect of life. I think when you look at Jeff, you've seen it. You know what I mean? You've seen what you can be.
And so, that's my hope—that y'all can imagine and envision more for yourself than what you currently see.
James: The first time I met Lecrae, my wife and I introduced ourselves to him and told him his song "Background" ministered to us and kept us grounded about selfishness and who's in charge or who should make the decision. Whenever we get into tension, we talk about that, but then we were play the song and dance together and say, "You know what? I can play the background." Could you share with us, Lecrae, how that song was created and why it's so important as Christians to understand what that means?
Lecrae: The whole idea of it is that the Bible says God opposes the proud but exalts the humble (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). There's a story of an individual in the Bible, Uzziah, who started off as a man who dug his hands in the soil. He was low to the earth; he was helpful to people.
But then [when] he became king, he got more and more prideful, more and more full of himself, more and more filled with selfish ambition. And he ended up stepping outside of the boundaries that God had given him, and he [was] cursed with leprosy (2 Kings 15:1-7, 2 Chronicles 26).
I'm always reminded of [how] it's so easy to get full of yourself. It's so easy to just get self-consumed and not remember that you're part of a bigger story. You know what I mean? You're part of God's story. So, like Jeff was just saying, you [can] get so focused on your own little stuff [that] you forget this ain't your story.
James: This question is also for both of you. The person asks, "What is the hardest thing for you living as a Christian?”
Jeff: [There's] a certain part of us as men that's like, Man, you're not going to play me. You feel me? That is very hard for us to tame. That little alpha part of us that's like, Man, even if I'm a Christian, I will still do something to you.
I think, for me, that's the hardest thing because of my background, how I was raised, and just me and my personality. I'm very bull-headed. I have to tame that, though, man.
I've gotten way better over the years. I was a wild child when I was little. I [would] just fight and do all kinds of crazy stuff. But over the years, I've learned to tame that aggressive energy into more talking, into more trying to at least explain the situation before I go out. I'm still working on that, y'all.
Lecrae: Everybody's different, and everybody has different struggles, so what may be hard for me may not be hard for you. But the thing about it is [there’s] something that we all got—what I will call blind spots. [An] area of your life that you don't really recognize is hindering you and holding you back.
Like Jeff was just saying, he needs people to tell him [that he's] got to calm [his] attitude down and learn how to talk. Sometimes we got blind spots. Your blind spot may be anger, or your blind spot may be [that] you bend too much, or you lie too much, or you care about stuff you shouldn't care about.
For me to the struggle—the hardest thing for me—is remembering I'm already accepted. Right? Remembering I'm already accepted by God. Because if you live for other people's acceptance, you're going to die from their rejection. You know what I'm saying? When you realize you're already accepted, you don't really have to get extra bent out of shape over somebody disrespecting you. Because it's like, Man, I'm already somebody. You can't really disrespect me because I'm already somebody. So, what you're saying to me, really, it don't really matter. That's your problem, really, not mine.
But I understand there's politics at play all the time. We're always worrying [that] If they see [we] went out soft, then everybody going to try [us]. It's the politics at play.
But at the end of the day, I'm already accepted. I'm already respected. I don't have to prove nothing to you. But that's the hard part that, I think, for me, I struggle with. All right, 'Crae, you're already accepted. You ain't got to prove nothing. And just live in that reality.
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