Gospel-focused rapper Lecrae makes music with a purpose pulled straight from his real life. While that helps give people a realistic blueprint on how to get out of their darkest times, it also means he must pull from his own to truly connect with people beyond their ears.

“For ‘Cry For You,’ I was in the studio, and I was low, man. I had this manager who managed a lot of major rap artists pressuring me a little bit, saying, ‘You might need to lay off of the faith talk,’” Lecrae told REVOLT. “While writing ‘Cry For You,’ it started to come out. That’s when my friends said, ‘My man ain't good.’”

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy-winning, barrier-breaking rapper explains the three-hour conversations he had with Waka Flocka Flame, what fans can expect from his upcoming album, and the surprising people who end up in his sessions. Check out the exclusive interview below.

You’ve been making music for over 20 years. What do you remember about your first recording session?

The earliest sessions I remember were making a lot of the scratch records for my project in my apartment at the time. I made all the beats on this MP7 drum machine and would record by going into my closet, honestly. I’d be recording those lyrics, hoping that somebody would appreciate them. Back then, when we used to go to the studio, we had to pay for the sessions in two-hour blocks. We didn't have that much money back then. I had to hurry up. I made sure I had my verse ready when I hit the booth, so it would take me no time to knock it out. I knew I was on the clock. Even to this day, I still feel like I'm on the clock. I'm in and out. They tell me, “You’re One Take Jake” because I've already worked on it in my head.

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of your Gravity project becoming the first LP by a rapper to win the Grammy for Best Gospel Album. What were the memorable sessions from that time?

The whole album was memorable. We rented a house with a studio in Atlanta. We did the whole album in there. In the house, we’d go from room to room to work. There would be a producer in this room working on a track. Another producer is working on a track in another room. I loved what I heard and started writing in my head. The song “Tell The World” was the last song on the project. I was excited to knock that out. That was the first time I did a whole project in one setting and space. I felt like it was done in two weeks.

You deal with some heavy topics in your music. Did any of those songs make you cry while making them?

The whole All Things Work Together album is tough for me to listen to because the album was made in the darkest season of my life. There were some moments in the beginning when we cooked up songs like “Blessings” with Ty Dolla Sign and “Whatchu Mean” with Aha Gazelle that were positive. But, there were some very low songs like “Cry For You” and “I'll Find You.” For “Cry For You,” I was in the studio, and I was low, man. I had this manager who managed a lot of major rap artists pressuring me a little bit, saying, “You might need to lay off of the faith talk.”

I was wrestling with that thought process. On top of that, we had writers there in the studio who had done hooks for Beyonce, Rihanna, and everybody. We also had big producers like Mike WiLL Made-It in there. But I was in the darkest season of my life. I couldn’t even appreciate it because I was crushed. While writing “Cry For You,” it started to come out. That’s when my friends said, “My man ain't good.”

What does a typical Lecrae session look like?

A bottle of Henny, a bag of green, and a couple of strippers… are NOT what’s in the studio (laughs). It’s a couple of green teas, my engineer and I, and I may have a couple of people I trust. I love having people who have good ears because I like critical people around me. I want people who can say, “No, that's weak. You can do better than that. You can beat that.” I don't really have rules in the studio. The energy just has to be right. Don't come in there with some negative or distractive energy. This is not a party for me. It's a party for other people, but I'm at work.

How did you come up with your newest single, “Still Here”?

I was in the studio with my guy [Lasanna “Ace” Harris] and my girl [Alexandria Dollar]. We were playing around with the sample. We started building on that and we thought, “Let’s have kids sing it” because we just had some kids on “Spread The Opps” (from Church Clothes 4). I brought the same kids back and let them try that. That’s how the song was birthed. We wanted to talk about how God is still here despite all the adversity and pain.

What’s coming on the new album?

The album gives people hope because it tells the whole story. A lot of times, we hide our scars because we don't want people to know we have flaws. But if I show off my scars, people can know healing is possible. This is the album of healing. People can see I’ve been through some serious stuff, but I’m healing. I want people to see that healing process.

You’ve attracted some huge celebrity fans. Which ones have been in the studio with you watching you create?

I’ve had professional golfer Bubba Watson in the studio. We had Waka Flocka in the studio, hanging out and having long, deep conversations. There’s been tons of folk to come to the studio. I’ve even had the owners of Chick-Fil-A in there (laughs).

What were the conversations you had with Waka?

We talked for three hours about faith, God, and purpose. Waka can get deep, man. He asked me questions about what I believe and why I believe it, and I gave him some clarity. He told me what he thinks and believes, and it was a great conversation all around.

Who are the people you have the best chemistry with in the lab?

Honestly, I felt Ty Dolla Sign and I had good chemistry. We understood the assignment. He’s a hybrid artist, and I'm a hybrid artist. He respected where I came from and vice versa.

What do you have coming for the rest of 2024?

I’ll be doing the podcast “The Deep End.” Outside of that, the album is coming at the end of the year.