DiM | “All I Need is You” by Lecrae

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

November 5, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “All I Need is You” by Lecrae. This song held the top spot on the Top Billboard Gospel Songs for the week of September 6, 2014. The Billboard chart really loves Lecrae, who held 4 of the 15 spots on the chart that week. Why are we reviewing this song today? Because I was driving my car this past Tuesday…

I’ve mentioned it before, but there are 2 main Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) stations in my area (Augusta, GA), WAFJ 88.3FM and Air1. I generally have my radio set to WAFJ, but I frequently have to switch to Air1 to dodge Beth Moore or some advertisement for a heretic coming to the area to speak at a local conference/church. Sometimes I just have to turn off the radio altogether. I don’t always remember to flip back to WAFJ, since while I’m driving that’s my priority… driving. This past Tuesday, while I was grabbing some fast food on my way back from errands, this song played on the radio. I was completely confused by it. Since I was in my car, waiting in the drive-thru line, I didn’t take the time to look up the back-story of the song… so I took to twitter with my first reaction after the song finished and the lyrics still tumbled in my mind…

confusedtweets

The first tweet went out just before I was handed my food. Once I got to my desk I finalized the DiM post for Tuesday and then started researching this Lecrae song to find some backstory. While this song does stay firmly in the “disapprove” category, I want to clearly state its intended context up-front. It was not properly setup by Air1 either in an intro or outro, so just hearing these lyrics in the mix of other vaguely “Christian” songs immediately tripped by “Jesus is my bearded girlfriend” brand of false-worship alarm. The lyrics themselves don’t clear it up, unfortunately, but I found an MTV interview that clarified Lecrae’s intent with the song. Not stellar, but at least it clears up the focus of the song… it’s to/for/about his wife, not God.

Let’s be honest — for all the great things that hip-hop has achieved culturally, shining a positive light on monogamous relationships certainly isn’t one of them. The genre has faced plenty of criticism for being misogynistic, and while we have to accept that a sizable portion of that is purely for entertainment, there are still very few artists waving the flag for healthy relationships. Lecrae hopes to change that, beginning with a song like “A I Need is You.”

“When you see Jay Z and Beyonce, [you think], okay, marriage is cool now. They set a trend and I think that’s healthy,” he explained. “It’s just continuing with that trend of — what if we’re monogamous? What if we’re consistent in our relationships? What if we tell the truth? What if we don’t lie? What if we don’t cheat? What if we love somebody and we’re not afraid to say it in a hip-hop song? You’ve gotta continue to set trends and be different.” Read More

Lecrae also did an interview with Billboard Music where this track was discussed a bit:

“I just want to be able to die saying I gave it my all in terms of being a voice,” says Lecrae. “All this stuff is nice to me — being seen and heard and all that stuff — and I’m sure that’s the dream for a lot of people. But for me, they’re hammers and nails. So it’s like, the Grammy is a hammer, but what am I going to build with it?”

Lecrae is well aware that the fans who have carried him this far — from the Christian music community to the stadium locker rooms — may worry that he will leave the inspirational message behind as he eyes the mainstream. “Some people assume that you’re now going to be talking about whatever appeals to culture,” says Lecrae. “Like, ‘Now you’re going to be talking about drugs and sex.’ I’m not going to do that. But I will be talking about things that both people in the church and out of the church are concerned with and think about. Love. This whole video shoot is about love and being in love, and everybody can relate to that.”

As if on cue, Darragh enters the kitchen carrying their son, who has just been woken up from his afternoon nap. The little boy is not happy about this, aggressively rubbing his eyes and fighting consciousness.

“Hey, champ!” whispers Lecrae. “I love you!” Darragh hands the toddler to Lecrae, and the child nuzzles his head into his father’s chest and seems to relax. “Consistency, man; integrity, character — [I’m just] representing those aspects that are not, for whatever reason, within hip-hop culture,” he continues. “It’s almost like people can’t even believe that they can coexist. That’s a win for me, for people to be able to say, ‘Faith, fatherhood, monogamy exists in hip-hop.’ Yes, we’re here.” Read More

While these interviews give enough clarity for me to back down from my first tweet regarding this song, it doesn’t tip me in favor of this song being played on Christian Radio. Why? Because I struggle to find any Christian message in either of these interviews. Sure, the label “Christian” pops up here and there, but not pointing to Christ. The word “gospel” gets mentioned, but the Gospel isn’t being proclaimed. There was even mention of a cross… the one that Lecrae bears (a stigma of being a bible-thumping Christian), not the Cross of Jesus Christ. With all of this in place, let’s now look at today’s song.

Lecrae Reach Records Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

All I Need is You

By my side, thick and thin
Highs and lows, don’t let go
We gone ride, we gone win
Don’t know how, all I know
(All I need is you)

Keep me in my timezone when my mind’s gone
When I’m flying home
And I’m stressed out and I’m tempted to get that styrofoam
And go pour it up, but you know what’s up
And you know that ain’t gone solve nothing
I mean Lord forbid I might fall or something
And I’m all or nothing cause (all I need is you)
To hold me down like bed straps to the psych ward
It’s killing me but you still with me when I fight hard
And (all I need is you)
You diggin’ me when I’m iggin’ you
Get with me when my card’s pulled
Coulda dealt with me but you fell for me ‘for I fell for you
To keep me on that right path and the right math
Cause you plus nothin’s everything
You my everything, saying
(All I need is)
You, ain’t gotta question my allegiance
Cause the way you love me I could never leave ya, I need ya

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

How did I fall in this?
No condition that get a mention but you offer this
Unconditional love, I swear I sell it all for this
I’m tryna keep it together, forgive my awkwardness
But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this
Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this
But all I need is you
It’s funny just how off I get when I ain’t riding with you
No adjectives for yo’ awesomeness
They burning one for that burn out
This life done got ‘em all turnt out
Took time out to put time in so I turn to you when I’m worn out
All I need is you
You slow me down cause you know me now with my phony smile
And I’m acting like it’s all copacetic
It’s so pathetic, so juvenile
Know what you do
You keep me cool in the summer
When they be dressing less and I be wantin’ to show off and stunt
There ain’t nothing to want, you give me all that I need
All I need is you to keep that fire burning for me
All I need is you

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

Ain’t nobody gone get in the way
Put that on my money in the bank
Cause you do what them others can’t
And I love that, yea
We gone ride till the wheels fall off
Above it all, we can never fall, yea
Hold my hand, we can have it all
Hold my hand, we can have it all

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You always pick me up when I’m feelin’ down
You always make it better for me some how
All I need is you, cause all I need is you
(All I need is you)

Publishing: Fellowship of The Unashamed (BMI) A Man Broke Free (ASCAP) Dramatic Pen Publishing/Almo Music Corp (ASCAP) Unashamed Music/Joseph Prielozny Music (ASCAP) Before I Die Publishing (BMI)
Writer(s): Lecrae Moore, Dustin Bowie, Latasha Williams, Joseph Prielozny, Chris Mackey

Discussion

God doesn’t even get an honorable mention in this song. There is a “Lord forbid I might fall or something”, but that’s just a turn of phrase like “heaven forbid” or “goodness knows”. The hook is “All I Need is You” with a backup track that echos “you’re all I ever needed”… when played on a CCM Radio station, I’m thinking the “you” is intended to be God the Father, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our LORD and Savior. But I’m thankful that is not the case, considering how many of the lines would fall into works-based self-righteousness in that setup. However, since this is a song sung to his wife, we have a different set of problems. The song has several lines of praise to his wife that leave Jesus out of the picture:

To keep me on that right path and the right math, Cause you plus nothin’s everything, You my everything, saying (All I need is)

You, you’re all I ever needed

But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this But all I need is you

There is no context given to frame this praise that could leave any room for a Christ-honoring relationship. I get the desire to promote monogamy, but God created marriage and He did so to point us to Him. The Apostle Paul anchored his admonishment for married couples in Christ, and we should do the same…

Ephesians 5:15-33 (ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is fully articulated in Paul’s teaching on the marriage relationship. So how can a Christian artist get through an entire love song to his wife without even mentioning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? By focusing on appealing to MTV and Billboard while “bearing the cross” of them assuming certain things about his Christianity… like that he would talk them through the Bible. Well, there’s no bible in this song. Sure, the Valley of Shadows gets a mention, but it’s okay… Lecrae only needs his wife… no one else. Never mind that when David wrote Psalm 23, the “You” is the LORD, not one of David’s wives.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Conclusion

I find myself quite angry once again, only this time my anger is pointed more at Air1 for playing the song than for Lecrae for producing it. It’s our job to be discerning. Read through the MTV and Billboard interviews… Lecrae is aiming for secular relevance… his profession of Christianity is what he relies on to make him look unique in a sea of hip-hop.

“I always liked the content of a Common, but the commercial viability of a Lil Jon,” says Lecrae, who along with Washer (the two had no formal business background) launched Reach Records in Dallas in 2004. “And I would say, ‘Why don’t those worlds ever come together?’ So for me it was like, ‘Let’s do that.'” Read More

There is a need for Christian Music to preach Law to expose sin in all areas, including sexual purity, marriage, and fidelity… but CCM is seriously lacking in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead it is awash in legalism, man-made law, and mysticism and idolatry. Your marriage is a gift from God intended to point you to Him. Our sinful flesh will always strive to worship the created rather than the Creator (Romans 1). Humble yourselves in repentance, and know that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, so that by His Grace we are saved through Faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

4 thoughts on “DiM | “All I Need is You” by Lecrae

  1. When I was reading your post, I wondered over and over again, What is wrong with saying ‘you’ instead of ‘God’ in your lyrics? I’m not saying that I disagree with your points, but if we know that Lecrae is acknowledging God when he says ‘you’, how does it show that this song is not focused on God?

    • Did you read the back story on this song at the top of the post? This song is written to his wife. I’ll try to answer that first question of “what is wrong with saying ‘you’ instead of ‘God’?” If the song lyric uses the pronoun “you” for God, I think it should be made clear. This exercise in examining lyric is just that, examining the lyric. Whenever a song with romantic tones gets played on “Christian Radio” it becomes unclear if the “you” is supposed to be God or a person. Our depiction of love toward God and His love toward us needs to stay in the Agape/Philos arena and not slip into the Eros arena. I’m not suggesting we should never use pronouns for God, I’m saying it should always be clear where our pronouns point.

  2. I would say it’s best to learn what Lecrae is doing from him in a more comprehensive format instead of soundbites from interviews. He is not just out there aiming for “secular relevance.” He’s out there to be salt and light. I’d suggest reading his new book, Unashamed. There he lays it all out and makes clear what his intent is so people can stop assuming and speculating about him “selling out” or leaving the faith. There’s nothing wrong with the man saying he needs his wife, which is a Biblical thing to say. Every song doesn’t have to use the noun God, nor does it have to have the proper name “Jesus.” Even in the Bible, there is a sexually explicit book that speaks of a love of a man for his wife (Song of Solomon), and a book in which the name of God is never mentioned (Esther). Yet these books are God-breathed just like the other 64, and you can see God all throughout them regardless. So if the Bible can give us books with meaning and purpose but that don’t have the name of God in them, the same can be said for music produced by Christians that may not directly use nouns or proper names for God.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. The focus of this DiM work is examination of each song, not an examination of the artist. In this review, I shared my overreaction to the song due to it’s poor (lacking) setup on by the radio station. I looked for information concerning the song and found interview material, which was helpful.

      I understand the desire to justify the artist himself and the call to read his books to understand him, the man, better. This work isn’t about the person, it’s about the lyric of each song. One shouldn’t have to read an artist’s books in order to appreciate and understand the lyric of a song played on the radio.

      This work is also not about saying what is permissible for artists, like writing songs without naming or mentioning God. This work is about whether or not these songs being played on “Christian Radio Stations” actually proclaim the Gospel in any meaningful way. A Christian is free to pursue his/her vocation in music, that doesn’t mean that every song produced actually points others to Christ or His Gospel.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s